Tag Archives: side dish

Wild Rice Pilaf

I find it useful to browse through my fridge and pantry occasionally to see what random items are lurking there. I often find ingredients I bought for one specific recipe then forgot to use the rest. Happen to anyone else?

Well, in case anyone is hesitant to try the delicious Chicken and Wild Rice Soup I posted recently for fear that the rest of their package of wild rice will go to waste, today’s recipe is the solution. This recipe was easy and delicious and cleared out the wild rice left in my package from the last batch of soup I made. Enjoy!

Wild Rice Pilaf (Serves 4-6)

Wild Rice Pilaf

½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
2 to 3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 to 2 strips lemon zest
¼ -½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup wild rice, preferably whole not broken
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons feta cheese crumbles

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, garlic, strips of lemon zest, and thyme. Swirl and cook until the nuts and garlic are beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the wild rice and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute tops. Stir in the chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check the texture of the rice and, if needed, continue simmering until tender. Add more ¼ cup water as needed, if liquid runs out in the pan.

3. Remove from the heat. Remove the lemon zest before serving. Fluff with a fork. Stir in black pepper, remains lemon zest, and lemon juice. Top with green onions and feta cheese before serving.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 187
Protein: 9 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 95 mg

Recipe notes: Make the lemon zest strips by running a vegetable peeler around a lemon. If that is too weird for you, you could just use the zest of ½ a lemon.

Source: slightly adapted from Tyler Florence, food network.com


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Peanut Butter Quinoa

Shortly after my husband and I got married, we put together a picnic dinner. I was so excited to make a delicious quinoa salad. We started eating, and I noticed my husband wasn’t eating any of my salad. I asked him, and he said he doesn’t care for salads like that. I had just bought a big package of quinoa, and I needed a new way to fix it. I found lots of recipes for casseroles or soups, but not many regular side dishes.

So, I finally took a salad recipe to make this side dish. And it turned out great. This is great with fish or chicken. Or stir in some chicken and make a meal out of it. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Quinoa (Serves 6-8)

Peanut Butter Quinoa

1 cup uncooked quinoa or 2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 rib celery, sliced thin
2 carrots, sliced thin
½ medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
¼ cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
dash sriracha
½ teaspoon ground ginger

1. If not already cooked, cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or saute pan. Add celery, carrots, onion, and bell pepper. Saute 5-7 minutes, until vegetables begin to be tender.

3. Mix together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. It is not essential that they combine perfectly. You can heat it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds and they will combine better.

4. Add quinoa and peanut butter mixture to vegetables. Stir and cook until well combined and all is heated through. Serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 172
Protein: 6 gm
Fat: 8 gm
Saturated Fat: 1 gm
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Sodium: 253 mg

Recipe notes: You could substitute any vegetables you like. The “sauce” is pretty thick. You could add in some water or more soy sauce to thin it out more, if you like a saucier side. I liked mine fairly thick, almost like a fried rice.

Source: adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

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Fall Vegetable Bake

Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away! November is just flying. I’ve got several more recipes I think should grace your table for the holiday weekend.

This vegetable bake is definitely different from your standard Thanksgiving starch. It definitely wouldn’t replace potatoes on your table, if that is what you are looking for. But it deserves some attention and consideration. A great balance of sweet, tangy, and savory is achieved with all of the different flavors. It even tastes great doused in gravy!


Fall Vegetable Bake (Serves 6-8)

Fall Vegetable Bake

3 cups cubed peeled turnips (about 1 ¼ pounds)
3 cups cubed peeled sweet potatoes (about 1 ¼ pounds)
2 ½ cups cubed peeled Granny Smith apples (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
Juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 orange

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Combine all the ingredients, tossing to coat all the produce. Spread evenly in baking dish.

3. Bake for 1 ½ hours, stirring after 45 minutes, or until desired tenderness.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 219
Protein: 2 g
Fat: less than 1 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 56 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 74 mg

Recipe Notes: I actually didn’t LOVE this dish the first time I made it. I liked it better as leftovers, especially if eaten with some gravy. It sounds odd putting gravy on this mix, but it worked. Promise!

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Low Iodine: shouldn’t need any adjustment, if you are allowed brown sugar. I found mixed answers on this. You could try subbing honey instead.

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Curry Rice

Shortly after I got married, I was looking around for a rice pilaf recipe with some pizzaz. I didn’t want to always have to buy mixes at the store. However, a good recipe was somewhat hard to find. I finally stumbled upon this recipe in a cookbook, and it quickly became a staple at our table. It has some strong flavors, but not so strong that it overpowers the other parts of your meal. Enjoy!

Curry Rice (Serves 4-6)

Curry Rice

1 tablespoon canola oil
½ medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1 ½ cups brown rice
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons garam masala
½ – 1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cardamom pod, smashed open
3 cups water
Cilantro, optional

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until onion begins to soften.

2. Add rice, cumin, garam masala, curry, and cardamom. Saute for 1-2 minutes, until spices are fragrant but be careful not to burn them.

3. Stir in water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook for 30-40 minutes, until rice is cooked through and water is absorbed. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 205
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 39 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 18 mg

Source: adapted from Joy of Cooking

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Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

Do you remember the first real meal you tried to cook all alone? I mean something homemade, a full dinner. I do. It was the summer after my freshman year of college. My parents had left me home alone for several days and were returning on Sunday afternoon. I decided I would make a nice, Sunday dinner. As I was preparing it, my aunt called that she and her husband happened to be in town and would be coming by, too. Thankfully, I had bought a lot of food.

At the time, I loved Rachael Ray, so I found some recipes from one of her cookbooks – chicken breasts with goodness rolled up inside and pasta with zucchini. My mom ended up helping a bit when she came home, mostly because I didn’t pound the chicken thin enough, so it took about 5 years to cook. But the food was good, and everyone was impressed at what I had accomplished on my own.

Since that day, I’ve obviously tackled a lot of recipes. I’ve honestly never tried that chicken again, but the pasta has stuck with me all these years. I love how simple it is but still has great flavors. It was also one of the first times I enjoyed zucchini. It is great for a quick summer dinner, and also works well as a side dish along some grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta (Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side)

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

12-16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (see notes)
2 zucchini
½ tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of water. Cook pasta according to package directions, without adding salt or oil.

2. While pasta cooks, grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater onto a pile of paper towels. Squeeze out excess water with paper towels.

3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add garlic and grated zucchini. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until zucchini begins to soften and is heated completely through.

4. Drain pasta (reserving some cooking liquid) and add to skillet with zucchini. Toss together. If pasta is dry, add pasta cooking water ¼ cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Toss with parmesan cheese and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving as a main dish):

Calories: 401
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 77 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 134 mg

Recipe Notes: I always find whole wheat pasta in 13.25 ounce packages. Use whatever size package you can find. Any type of long, thin pasta works. I’ve done spaghetti, linguine, and fettucine. This isn’t a “saucy” pasta dish. But since we don’t have a lot of cooking oil, there isn’t much to coat the pasta, especially if you are ambitious at wringing out your zucchini. Just add a little water if some of the noodles look too dry.

Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray

Low Iodine Adjustment: Omit parmesan.

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Sesame Noodles

Have you ever made a dish you thought was really delicious but no one else could remember it?  It has happened to me a few times, including the first time I made these noodles.  I remember making them for a picnic dinner date we went on.  I even remember my husband saying he liked it.  But anytime I asked him about them, he couldn’t remember what I was talking about.  Partly because the only way I could describe them was as “peanut butter noodles” which would usually remind him of the Thai Style Chicken and Noodles I shared before.   That is one of his favorites, so the discussion would end.  So, these gradually drifted off my radar for about two years.

Wow, those two years were really missing something.  When I rediscovered this to take lunch to a friend, I was reminded of how easy, quick, delicious, and versatile this dish is.  And the fact that it is cold makes it perfect for summer.  It can be a main dish or a side dish that is easy to transport wherever you need it.  I recently made a big batch right before we went hiking, and it made an awesome dinner after a long day of hiking and lugging around a toddler.


Sesame Noodles (Serves 4-6)

Sesame Noodles

1 small eggplant, cubed
½ teaspoon salt
1 (13.25 ounce) box whole wheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon sesame oil (optional)
½ tablespoon canola oil
1 chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces
1 clove of garlic
1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger
½ cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
¼ cup hot water (as hot as your tap will go)
½ cucumber, sliced (peeled if it isn’t a hothouse cucumber)
¼ green cabbage, shredded
6 green onions, sliced into 2 inch chunks

1. Sprinkle eggplant with salt. Let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. OR Place eggplant on several layers of coffee filters or paper towels. Microwave for 10 minutes, or until beginning to look slightly shriveled.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting oil and salt. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place in a large bowl and toss with sesame oil (if using).

3. Heat canola oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Saute eggplant until browned, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add to pasta. Saute chicken in same pan until cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Add to pasta.

4. In a blender or food processor, process garlic and ginger until well chopped. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, red pepper, and hot. Process until smooth. (The sauce may be a little thick. If it is overly thick, add more water).

5. Toss the pasta, eggplant, chicken, cucumber, cabbage, and green onions with the peanut butter sauce. Chill until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 473
Protein: 23 g
Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 21 mg
Carbohydrates: 66 g
Fiber: 11 g
Sodium: 713 mg

Recipe Notes: Feel free to mix it up on this dish. I’ve made it without the chicken and without the eggplant. All the combinations have been good. I like the crunch the cabbage gives to this, but I have also omitted that. A hothouse cucumber works really, really well in this. But I’m usually too cheap to buy one, so I just half peel a regular cucumber with good results. Also, you could substitute garlic powder and ginger powder and mix the sauce by hand. It takes a fair amount of muscle, but can be done.

Source: Adapted from Food Network Kitchens’ Making It Easy Cookbook

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Greek Rice

You know those packaged rice and pasta side dishes, like Rice-a-Roni or the RiceSides? My family ate a fair amount of those growing up, and I remember loving them.  My favorite was a rice pilaf that my mom would always serve with fish. It was very simple, but still seasoned and flavorful. I’ve always wanted to recreate it on my own, but never found a recipe that I loved.

Enter this Greek rice. It is the perfect cross between that packaged rice pilaf and the rice side they serve at my favorite Greek restaurant. It is the perfect side dish for fish (like tilapia with tomatoes), gyros, or even just some grilled chicken or veggies. Enjoy!

Greek Rice (Serves 4)


1 teaspoon olive oil (omit if using rice cooker)
½ cup thinly sliced or chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water (you may need more)
1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, or dill
half of a lemon

Stovetop directions:
1. Heat olive oil in medium to large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for 2-3 minutes, until beginning to soften. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Add rice, water, herbs, juice of the lemon. Toss the lemon rind into the pot as well.

2. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, until rice is done and water is evaporated. Stir occasionally to make sure rice isn’t burning. You may need to add more water to prevent burning. Add it ¼ cup at a time. Remove lemon rind before serving.

Rice cooker directions:

1. Add all ingredients to rice cooker (omit olive oil). Set to cook. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until rice is done and water is evaporated. Stir occasionally to make sure rice isn’t burning. You may need to add more water to prevent burning. Add it ¼ cup at a time. Remove lemon rind before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 193
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 39 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 4 mg

Recipe Notes: I have used both sliced and chopped onions. I preferred the chopped since they blended into the rice better. Sliced are more visually apparent, if you have people who want to know there are onions in the rice. My favorite combo was thyme and rosemary. But you can adapt this with any herbs you like or have on hand. If you are using dried herbs – which is fine – decrease it to 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons total herbs.

Source: adapted from online

Low iodine adjustment: No adjustment needed. Enjoy!

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