Category Archives: Vegetarian Side Dishes

A Simple & Sassy Side Dish: Apricot & Zucchini Couscous

Only three ingredients, and ready in a jiffy!

Ok, it’s winter. Let’s talk soup.

So, I tend to cook a lot of soups. This is for several reasons: I can make it when I have time and stick it in the fridge for the next day, soups are easy to make, and I only have to make one dish if I serve it as a main course. Because side dishes? Such a pain to manage the timing of the cooking of all the different elements of a traditional meat-and-two-veg dish.

And then I came across this side dish!

Super-quick to make, it fits all my soup-er (ha!) criterion: I can stick it in the fridge and pull it out the next day, and it’s an easy way to add a side that a) delicious and b) healthy. It’s low-fat, has only three ingredients, and is chock-full of healthiness!

And did I mention it’s tasty? Because it’s tasty. 🙂

I’ve served this as a side dish, and I’ve also served it as a salad with a little balsamic dressing on it. (Hey, you do you!)  Honestly, it was MUCH quicker to make than you’d think. Try it, and see for yourself!

Apricot and Zucchini Couscous

  • 1 c. coucous (I bought mine at a local bulk food store)
  • dried apricots (also bought at the local bulk food store)
  • 1 zucchini

Boil 1 c. salted water. Add couscous and let sit for 5 minutes with a lid on the pot, until water is absorbed. Meanwhile, grate zucchini, and chop dried apricots into small chunks (1 apricot equals say, 8 to 10 chunks). Once couscous is rehydrated, stir in grated zucchini and chopped apricots. Let sit until flavours meld/the rest of the meal is done/the table is set. Bam, done!

The heat of the couscous will partially cook the zucchini, and the zucchini will release some water which will rehydrate the dried apricots.

Now isn’t that a quick side dish? And it’s a welcome change from my soup diet!

Next Post: Speaking of soup, should I post a soup recipe? Or those chocolate mint whoopee pies I was talking about before? So many delicious things!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Everything is Coming Up Beets! (Easy Mennonite Pickled Beets)

Pickled beets, Mennonite-style. I feel so pioneer-ish!

Pickled beets, Mennonite-style. I feel so pioneer-ish!

Given that it’s fall, root vegetables are having their moment. My local grocery store had 10 lb bags of root veggies on sale for $1.97 last week, which is the best price you’ll find all year. So I? Bought 30 lbs worth. That’s right — 30 lbs of delicious root veggies! Ten pounds each of carrots, onions, and beets. Time to get on a preservation kick!

I chopped, blanched, and froze 5 lbs of carrots, as well as all 10 lbs of onions. Onions don’t freeze perfectly, but eh, good enough.

KITCHEN HACK

How not to cry when chopping onions: wear swimming goggles! You might look silly, but hey, you won’t be crying! (The same wasn’t true for the DH. After chopping 10 lbs of onions, the fumes had drifted out of the kitchen where I was working, along the hall, and into the man cave where the DH was. Let’s just say it was an emotional moment and leave it at that. Tee hee hee!) Seriously though, swimming goggles — do it!

So. That’s the carrots and the onions taken care of. But how to preserve (and eat) the beets? I made beet and bean hummus one time (sound bizarrely horrible, I know, but it’s actually bizarrely delicious), which we ate with homemade tortillas. And we’ve been eating salad topped with roasted beets, crumbled goat cheese, and vinaigrette all week. But still. Ten pounds of beets is a LOT of beets!

So I called up my mom and got her to tell me the pickled beet recipe that she used when I was growing up. I asked her where she found it, and she told me that she had received the recipe from a neighbour, who had said that it was a recipe from a Mennonite community. This is a verrrrry easy recipe that even a beginner cook can make, and it’s great as a side dish to round out a meal and bring some ‘eat the rainbow’ colour to your plate. All you’re doing is boiling, peeling, and chopping the beets, and then mixing the chopped beets with a quick pickling syrup. Easy as pie. (Actually, much MUCH easier.)

I'm all about the rough chop.

I’m all about the rough chop.

Shall we?

Easy Pickled Beets

  • 8 medium beets
  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • pinch of cloves

Boil beets until tender. Let cool, and the skins will rub right off under cold water. Slice the beets to your desired thickness (I tend to do a ‘rough chop’, but then again, I have no time for finicky cutting). Next, bring syrup ingredients (everything but the beets!) to a boil, and mix with sliced beets. Bam, done!

The longer you let the beets sit in the pickling syrup, the stronger the pickled flavour will be. You can serve these beets hot or cold (I love both!), as a side dish, on top of a salad, or just eat them with a fork. I like to can mine so that I can enjoy fresh autumn flavour all winter long, but you do you! And eat them knowing that not only do they taste delicious, but they’re packed full of nutrients! #WinningAtAdulting #TastesStillComesFirst

Next Post: Homemade Yoghurt? Homemade clean eating granola? Lentil sprouts? Oh dear, have I gone to the crunchy side? Fear not! More sugar (and fall flavour) is on the way with apple pie and pear custard squares!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday x2 and at this linkup too. Plus this one aaaaaand this one!

Memories of Meals Past: Dumplings Two Ways

Served with a nice crisp green salad!

Served with a nice crisp green salad!

Last year I decided to start a Cookbook Supperclub with some friends, and hold dinner parties where we all cooked a dish from the cookbook-du-jour, ending up with a number of appetizers, mains, sides, and of course dessert. We cooked our way through a number of cookbooks before the group dissolved due to well, life and other schedules.

One of the cookbooks was Martha Stewart’s Appetizers book, and one of the appetizers I made was a soup dumpling (albeit veggi-fied, because that’s how I roll). It turned out slightly differently from how it was supposed to, likely because I used agar-agar for the first time instead of gelatin and made it way too weak to be gelatinous. I tramped around the city looking for dumpling wrappers and agar-agar, and while I found the agar-agar in a crunchy-hippie type store (a very cool store, btw) I couldn’t find the dumpling “skins”, and didn’t want to go to literally across the city to a genuine Chinese store to get some.

So I made some. From scratch. *blows on nails and buffs nails on shirt*

I should have started there, because it was sooooo easy! Would have saved me hours. And it’s only a few ingredients! Here’s the recipe I used, albeit just for the dumpling wrappers.

As for the filling, here’s my own creation:

Quick n’ Easy Dumpling Filling

  • 2/3 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pkg veggie ground round
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2-3/4 c. chopped dried mushrooms, rehydrated with 1/2 c. boiling water

Mix all ingredients together. Use 2 tsps. of filling in each dumpling (the dumpling dough recipe makes 34 dumplings, or at least my batch did).

Feel free to add in additional ingredients to make it extra savoury, although I think using actual meat would make it savoury enough for the meat-eaters.

You can freeze the dumplings in single layers for later use, or you can use them right away. I’ve done both and they’re both delicious!

Plate o' dumplings. Excuse me, I'm off to nom.

Plate o’ dumplings. Excuse me, I’m off to nom.

As for the dumpling dip, I came across a recipe in a Buzzfeed article (also where I got my new favourite smoothie recipe, but that’s a post for another time!) and used that. Basically, it’s 2 parts vinegar to one part soy sauce, with grated ginger added in. It’s salty and sweet with a little kick. Puckerlicious!

Ok, so far we have the dumpling skins, the dumpling filling, and the dumpling dip. But…how to actually cook the dumplings? Well, here are three ways:

  1. steam the dumplings – put a tsp. of oil in a frying pan, dab the bottom of the dumplings in the oil and fry until slightly brownish on the bottom. Add in enough oil to just cover the edges of the dumplings, and put a lid on the pan. Steam until thoroughly cooked (i.e. the top of the dumpling is no longer doughy). This is my version of steaming, though. True steaming is when you place the dumplings on a steamer over boiling water. Meh, to each her own!
  2. boil the dumplings – pretty self-explanatory (I made some like this but didn’t photograph it, so you’re out of luck if you wanted to see them!)
  3. fry the dumplings – also pretty self-explanatory. Fry the dumplings in oil on the stove-top until the bottom and sides are crispy and golden brown. Crunchy and yummy!

The verdict? I’d totally make these dumplings again! I might change up the filling to use up whatever I have in the fridge, but the basic filling I outline above would be my starting point. These dumplings are great to serve fried with a green salad, or steamed/boiled for an appetizer or a side dish. If you make some yourself, let me know what filling you use!

Next Post: Either a fancy-pants strawberry cake, or a post about how to make mini Skor cupcakes! Mmm…I do love dessert!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!  (And again!)

Memories of Meals Past: Healthier Spring Rolls

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Time for another Memories of Meals Past post!

This time it’s a lunch/light dinner food, spring rolls, that I made a few months ago. But made healthier by baking as opposed to deep-frying! I used this recipe as a starting point, and then naturally I made substitutions. I had half a head of purple cabbage in my fridge, so I grated that and added that into the filling, along with some dried mushrooms (albeit not the shiitake kind that the recipe called for).

Pro Tip: Do not use purple cabbage if you want a perfect presentation. Purple cabbage makes everything purple. Your filling, your wrappers, your fingertips. But it is healthy, so if you have it in your fridge, well…waste not, want not!

And these spring rolls were delicious! The DH and I happily crunched on them for dinner and lunches. I do love trying new recipes and…substituting ingredients!

Next Post: I go French with Tarte Tropezienne!

Budget-Friendly Parmesan & Paprika Potato Wedges

Crispy, seasoned goodness.

Crispy, seasoned goodness.

When I was a grad student, I was always trying to stretch my pennies, and that including trying to stretch my food budget. I even wrote an article about stretching one’s food budget for my university paper; I talked about using root vegetables and seasonal produce. I came across a cookbook in a local store around the same time, and it was all about potatoes. Perfect timing, and perfect for my budget! One of the recipes in it was a seasoned potato wedge dish.

I’ve made variations of this dish for the DH and I over the years, and they’re always delicious. Plus healthier for you than deep-fried potatoes! Want to make some yourself? Here’s how!

  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (the pre-grated stuff in a container is fine)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 6 potatoes
  • oil to grease a cookie tray
Cut your potatoes into 6-8 wedges each. Mix up remaining ingredients in a large plastic baggie (a large freezer bag is a good size). Add in potato wedges and shake until coated, being careful not to overshake.* Empty bag onto oiled baking tray. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 min or a bit longer depending on the size of the wedges.
*Or, have a dance party. Why? Well, why the heck not? One never needs a reason to shake, shake, shake!
Made with authentic Hungarian paprika!

Made with authentic Hungarian paprika!

Serve and enjoy your seasoned potato wedges! Inexpensive, and pretty darn tasty!

Next Post: That Dinner Roll Odyssey I’ve been talking about? Or perhaps a Memories of Meals Past? Albeit on a Friday/Saturday/Whenever?