Category Archives: Vegetarian Side Dishes

Pesto & Garden Veggie Couscous Salad, with BBQ’d Tofu or Chicken

A slight bbq tang, plus the crisp crunch of fresh veggies means this summer salad is delish!

I was looking at Instagram the other day, and came across a mention of Pesto Couscous. My mind was instantly intrigued. Could a recipe be that simple? Take some couscous and add in some pesto? The answer, my friends, is yes! Heated, it makes a great side dish. Add in some protein and a colourful veggie, and you’ve got yourself dinner! Or…turn it into a salad! That’s this week’s recipe: Pesto & Garden Veggie Couscous Salad!

With the summer heat upon us, I’ve been feeling particularly like serving cold salads as a main course. Adding in garden fresh veggies and some chunks of BBQ’d protein, and you’ve got yourself a hearty main dish that won’t keep you in a hot kitchen, and can easily be packed up for picnics or lunches.

I used corn, tomato, and cucumber in this dish, but you can add in whatever veggies you have growing in your garden or can purchase fresh at a local store. For the protein, I added in chunks of tofu marinated in BBQ sauce and then baked and cooled. You could use chicken — in fact, I’m sure my darling meat-a-tarian husband would have preferred it, but hey, she who holds the ladle rules the world! Or menu, at least.

Want to make this easy dish yourself? Let’s get to it!

 

PESTO & GARDEN VEGGIE COUSCOUS SALAD

This easy yet hearty summer salad uses pearl couscous tossed with pesto and garden fresh veggies, topped with chunks of bbq'd protein, to make a refreshing but hearty summer dish. 

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 c. pearl couscous (uncooked)
  • 1 1/4 c. water
  • 2 heaping tbsp. pesto
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 pickling cucumber, chopped
  • 1 ear corn
  • 1/2 c. bbq'd protein (I used bbq'd tofu)

Instructions

  1. Boil pearl couscous in water for 10 minutes or until cooked to your taste (it's just like boiling pasta). Drain.

  2. Cook ear of corn (I cooked it for a few minutes in the microwave), and remove the niblets. 

  3. Add pesto to drained couscous and let cool. 

  4. When cool, add together pesto couscous, chopped tomato and cucumber, and corn niblets. 

  5. Stir, then top with chunks of bbq'd protein. 

  6. Chill to let flavours meld, and then serve. 

 

I strongly prefer to use pearl couscous in this salad, both for mouth feel and for presentation, but if regular couscous is all you have, you do you, boo. As with the veggies, it’s all about using what you’ve got! And what you’ve got with this dish, is a hands down hit for a potluck, work lunches, or dinner on a hot night. Even better is if you’re able to use pre-cooked protein, leftover from another meal, or even from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Less cooking means less time in a hot kitchen and more time eating and socializing! And I’m all about the eating!

Next Post: Any requests? I’d give you my own version of fried green tomatoes, but I know many people have strong feelings on the subject. Maybe something with seasonal fruit? Mmm…fruit! I’m pretty sure fruit is my spirit animal. 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, Happiness is Homemade, and Clever Chicks Bloghop! As well as Full Plate Thursday!

Syrian-Style Chopped Salad: An Easy Beat-the-Heat Dish!

 

Deliciously fresh and cool and perfect for a summer lunch or dinner!

Inspired by some Syrian-Canadian friends, I made a Syrian-Style Chopped Salad this weekend! This is the perfect dish to make with all the fresh produce available in summer. The primary ingredients are cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, and it’s so refreshing to eat chilled for dinner on a hot summer’s day!

There is one less common ingredient: zaatar. Zaatar is an Arabic spice, and used in Middle Eastern cooking. I’ve used it before, as I grew up with it, and while I didn’t have it in my pantry, I asked my dad to borrow (er, have) a few tablespoons worth. You can probably find it at a local bulk store in a large city, or at a speciality food store. I believe my father buys it from a Middle Eastern grocery store, but even the local discount grocery stores have ‘exotic’ spices in their aisles these days, so I’d suggest looking there first.

My backyard tomatoes aren’t red yet, so I did have to use store-bought, but as any good foodie knows, home-grown tomatoes are THE. BEST! I did pick the parsley, mint, and radishes from my garden, though! (Am very proud of my densely grown balcony garden. The DH calls it ‘Las Amazonas’, so you know it’s pretty intense!)

Have I made it sound appetizing enough yet? Then let’s get cooking!

SYRIAN-STYLE CHOPPED SALAD

This is an easy, beat-the-heat dish to make from fresh garden produce! Can be adapted to add grains or protein. 

Servings 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/3-1/2 c. parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped (can use dried if that's what you have)
  • 1 tbsp. radish, sliced or diced
  • 2 tbsp. zaatar (Arabic spice)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and stir. 

  2. Chill for half an hour or until serving. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can add in couscous or bulgar to make this a heftier salad; just add in a bit more lemon juice and oil. Alternatively, you can add in feta cheese, cubed & fried tofu, or even cooked chicken for some protein. Make it your own! 

By the way, this salad is so delicious that even my meat-a-tarian DH, who usually gamely eats whatever vegetarian dish I gave him but doesn’t choose vegetarian food if he has a choice, ACTUALLY ATE SECONDS OF THIS SALAD! Of his own volition! So yes, I will be making this a lot!

Although I’ve classified this salad as a vegetarian side dish, you could easily make it a main dish by adding in couscous or bulgar (cracked wheat), and adding in some crumbled or cubed feta cheese. And as I (the Queen of Substitutions) always encourage, make it your own by using whatever fresh produce you have in your garden or available at the local stores!

Next Post: I’m thinking the Shake n’ Bake tofu that I mentioned in a previous post. So many ways to use this versatile (and UBER-delicious protein)! And I’m not generally a tofu fan, so you KNOW it must be good! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Happiness is Homemade!

Best Ever Macaroni Salad, and…Eating for Two

Best ever macaroni salad!

I hosted a family BBQ this weekend, as it was a long weekend here in Canada (Victoria Day weekend, also known as May 2-4 weekend). One of my contributions was my Best Ever Macaroni Salad! It was a hit! This macaroni salad isn’t your sad buffet macaroni salad, but is a fresh version with no preservatives but a whole lotta flavour! A variety of spices give it flavour, and the secret ingredient, balsamic vinegar, gives it that umami taste that makes your mouth water in anticipation.

This is a very easy macaroni salad to throw together, and it gets better the longer it sits in the fridge. I have used fresh red and green peppers in the salad (for colour and crunch) and other times I’ve used dehydrated red and green peppers. The seasonings can of course be adjusted to your own taste. Make it your own!

Want to make some? Let’s get started!

5 from 1 vote
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BEST EVER MACARONI SALAD

This easy pasta salad is great to bring to BBQs or family dinners. Easily thrown together from mostly pantry ingredients, you'll knock of everyone's socks with the great taste of this salad! 

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 3 c. cooked macaroni
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried onion
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. chopped red & green peppers (or substitute 2 tbsp. chopped dried peppers)
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp. chopped green onion (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together, and let sit in fridge for at least two hours. Serve chilled! 

 

Oh, and guess what? The title to this post referenced it, but…I’m pregnant! Did you figure it out from my gender reveal cake post a few weeks ago? I wasn’t announcing it then, so I tried to imply that it was for someone else, but it was really about ma bebe. Because I’m having a little girl! Am so excited. My husband and I call bebe-to-be by a nickname, Baby Pina (baby pineapple), so I think that shall be her blog name. Baby Pina is expected in about 5 months, and let me tell you, I can really notice an increase in appetite (at least now that the all-day and all-night morning sickness has eased off a bit). I need to eat every few hours or else I get all vomity. Fun times. So, lots of protein-rich food it is! I made Easy Enchiladas yesterday, but used a heavy hand with the beans to up the protein, and plan to make yoghurt tomorrow to add into my favourite smoothies during the week. In other words, lots of healthy food!

Next Post: Something healthy but delicious, I think! Heavy on the delicious. I haven’t decided what to make yet, but am craving something creamy. And sweet. Maybe a custard cream cake? Not so healthy, but oh so delicious! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, and at Happiness is Homemade!

Greek-Style Lemony Potatoes: Who Needs Take-Out?

Deliciously fragrant and herbed!

I’ve been craving those amazing lemony potatoes that one can buy at Greek fast-food takeout shops recently, and finally decided to come up with my own recipe. The secret to making these taste amazing? Aside from fresh potatoes? Chicken-flavoured bouillon! And yes, there is a vegetarian version of chicken bouillon — who knew? So, that’s this week’s recipe: Greek-Style Lemony Potatoes! Fluffy potato wedges, redolent of lemon and olive oil, with chicken and garlic undertones…so, so yum!

I read through several recipes to get the gist of how they are usually made, and then came up with my own short-cut version. By partially boiling the potatoes (in a garlic & bouillon stock) prior to baking them in the lemon, oil, and herb mixture, you cut the cooking time significantly. And who wants to spend extra time cooking if you don’t need to?

These delicious potatoes are soooooo good that they can be eaten all by themselves, but they would also be fabulous served with a Greek salad (such as my The Only Greek Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need). For meat-a-tarians like my husband, a skewer of meat would probably complement the meal nicely, but really, the potatoes are so flavourful that I think a side salad is all you need.

Let’s get to making some!

GREEK-STYLE LEMONY POTATOES

This herbed and lemon-flavoured potato dish is a homestyle version of the takeout classic. A stock make of chicken-flavoured bouillon and garlic gives it the classic flavour! 

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 6 potatoes
  • 1 tsp. oregano, thyme, and rosemary, each
  • 2 cubes chicken-flavoured bouillon (enough to make 8 cups of stock)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 8 c. water
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice (fresh is best, but bottled is ok too)

Instructions

  1. Add bouillon and garlic to water, and bring to a boil. 

  2. Cut potatoes into wedges (6 to a potato) and add to garlic & bouillon stock. Boil until firm but can be pierced by a fork. (Be careful not to cook potatoes fully, or else they'll turn into mashed potatoes in the oven. Delicious, but not the aim of the recipe.)

  3. In an oven-proof container, mix olive oil, herbs, 1 c. of the bouillon and garlic stock (along with all of the garlic from the stock), and the potatoes. 

  4. Bake in a 400 degree oven, until potatoes reach their desired level of doneness. (Some people prefer softer potatoes than others.). I baked for about 30 minutes, until most but not all of the liquid had been absorbed/evaporated; I suggest checking every 15 minutes to make sure they reach your particular taste for doneness.  

  5. Served with a Greek Salad, and enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

I used McCormick vegetarian chicken bouillon because I'm vegetarian, but if you just have regular chicken bouillon, that's fine too. And if you find another vegetarian chicken bouillon, let me know! So far the only one I've ever come across is McCormick's.  

 

I made these last weekend, thinking that there would be enough for several meals worth, but…apparently they are too delicious to sit in the fridge for long. The next day there were all gone. The culprit? My beloved DH who enjoyed them for snacks and for dinner the next day. I came home after work to find him serving himself the last of the potatoes for dinner, topped with some cheese. He did look slightly guilty that he hadn’t left any for me, but…not guilty enough to have left any. In other words, Greek-Style Lemony potatoes are dee-licious!

Next Post: Either Blue & Blackberry Jam, or The Ultimate Macaroni Salad. I have amazing (and EASY) recipes for both! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

The Only Greek Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Photo of my mother’s recipe card included. The hallmark of a good recipe are the stains on the recipe card!

And…I’m back! Where was I for the past month, when this blog was eerily silent? Well, I was actually off sick for three weeks. Too sick to work, so too sick to blog. I’ll tell more in an upcoming post, but for now I just want to talk about food! Specifically, this Greek Salad! It’s a recipe I got from my mom, and I’ve eaten 7 batches of this salad in the past month, and plan to make and eat three more this week. So, obviously, it’s a delicious recipe! And easy to make, because aside from a batch of blueberry pancakes that I made yesterday, it’s been the only thing I’ve cooked/made in the past month!!!

This super-Spring-like Greek Salad is easy to toss together, and can be made in less than 15 minutes. You could easily add some pasta to make a Greek Pasta salad, but personally, I love that it’s almost all vegetables (I’m counting tomatoes as a vegetable in this one instance). Mmm…my precious vegetablessssss!

Want to toss a batch together yourself? Let’s!

Greek Salad

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 8 oz. Feta cheese (I often use the stuff in containers in the dairy section, but the best stuff is the super creamy version from a good deli counter)
  • 1/2 c. black olives
  • 1/3 c. oil (I use vegetable, but olive would be more authentic)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (fresh makes it SO much better)
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Chop tomatoes and cucumbers. Add crumbled Feta cheese. Add remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Serve chilled! 

I remember eating bowls of this as a child, along with super-fresh crusty French or Italian bread (there was a very authentic Italian bakery close by). A delicious way to get in your vegetables!

As I said, you could easily add some pasta to this to stretch it or to add some heft to the meal, with the salad dressing coating the pasta. But truly, this is a great meal all on its own. I’ve recently been eating bowls of this at midnight, and it’s just as delicious as when served at lunch or dinner! (Perhaps even more delicious when it’s extra chilled and eaten in bed while resting on plumped pillows and watching TV. Being an adult is so much fun!)

Next Post: Chocolate Ice Milk? Blue Velvet Pancakes? Copycat Peach Yoplait? It all depends on what I’m craving!  

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And again!