Archive | sides & snacks RSS feed for this section

Turkish White Bean Dip

20 Feb

turkish white bean dip

Having healthy snacks on hand is probably the most important piece of eating well. I definitely have those moments when I need to eat something and now, and that’s when it’s easiest to turn to something that’s not so good for me. Bean dips are one of my favorites to keep around. They require very little preparation, yet are tasty enough to serve to unexpected guests. I don’t have anything to puree with, and I was still able to make this – I just threw everything in a pot and cooked it down a bit, while mashing, which worked pretty well. Of course, using a food processor or blender makes the process even easier. I used Turkish flavors here, an old favorite of mine, and the mint, Turkish red pepper, thyme, and cumin easily complemented plain white beans. I thought the flavor went really well with fresh bell pepper and carrot sticks, for even more of a healthy kick.

[...]

Related Posts:

Ajat (Thai Quick Pickle)

11 Feb

ajat (thai quick pickle)

Combine my love of Thai food and my love of pickles, and you have ajat. A traditional Thai condiment that’s really easy and quick to make and pairs perfectly with a variety of Thai dishes – although it’s most notably served alongside satay to balance the richness and greasiness of the grilled meat (or fried tofu) and peanut sauce. The part of this quick pickle that seems ingenious is the preparation of the syrupy pickling liquid separately ahead of time – it’s only poured over the fresh sliced vegetables (cucumber, mild peppers, and shallots) right before serving, so the prep at serving time is minimal, and the veggies stay nice, bright, and crisp. The cilantro garnish is optional, but I thought the herb’s flavor was a great addition, especially towards the end of the meal as the delicate leaves macerated slightly in the syrup. The recipe as given makes quite a lot of ajat, but if you need less, I recommend making the full recipe of pickling liquid to use on multiple occasions, cutting up as many vegetables as you want at a time and pouring over only as much liquid as needed to barely cover them.

[...]

Related Posts:

Tropical Black Bean Quinoa Salad

6 Feb

tropical black bean quinoa salad

Inspired by the coconut breakfast quinoa I recently cooked up, I decided to try a savory preparation using quinoa cooked with coconut milk. I added black beans for extra substance and played off the tropical flavor of the coconut with mango, avocado, fresh mint, and lime juice. The resulting salad was colorful and delicious (not to mention healthy) – perfect for serving my parents for dinner at the end of a hot day of sightseeing.

[...]

Related Posts:

Cilantro Lime Quinoa

16 Jan

cilantro lime quinoa

While I’m still a big proponent of one pot meals, I often feel like I need to round out my repertoire of sides. It can be hard though, since I try not to eat too much rice, bread, or potatoes, foods with notoriously low nutrition values. I love using quinoa in place of rice though, since it’s great for soaking up flavors, but healthier and, in my opinion, tastier. This quinoa is just perfect for serving alongside Mexican food – simple, but tasty with the herbaceous and tart flavors of cilantro and lime a great match to the subtle nuttiness of the quinoa. It can really help complete a meal with grilled fish or meat or with black or pinto beans and is a wonderful base for a burrito (or burrito bowl).

[...]

Related Posts:

Basic Pinto Beans

14 Jan

basic pinto beans

I’ve most likely waxed lyrical on here about chipotle peppers before, but I don’t think I’ve ever truly appreciated them quite so much as when I saw them on a grocery store shelf for the first time in months. It’s been much easier to find some ingredients here in Montevideo than in Buenos Aires, despite it being a smaller city – I’m not positive on why, but I suspect it’s most likely because of the strict regulations and high taxes on imports into Argentina. Whatever the reason, I finally had my hands on a can of smoky chipotle peppers in spicy adobo sauce, and I knew I had to make good use of them. With my recent love of cooking up dried beans, it made sense to use these wonderful peppers as the flavor backbone for a pot of pinto beans. And they did not disappoint, imbuing each creamy bean with smoke and spice.

[...]

Related Posts:

Pickled Roasted Peppers

9 Jan

pickled roasted peppers

I think I’ve mentioned that food in general is surprisingly expensive here in Montevideo. The prices are nearly what I encountered back in DC – except now I don’t have a full time job. So I haven’t been eating out a whole lot here, since there aren’t really options like the $10/dozen empanadas back in Buenos Aires. Instead, I’ve turned back to sandwiches – once you have a couple basic ingredients on hand, they take mere minutes to put together, and having great condiments like these pickled roasted peppers on hand make them truly amazing. I’ve pickled raw bell peppers, and I’ve roasted them, but I’d never thought to combine the two before. This is an interesting mix, since the natural sweetness of the bell pepper, concentrated and enhanced by the roasting, plays well with the tartness of vinegar. It’s surprisingly mellow for a pickle, actually, but I think pickle lovers will definitely appreciate swapping these in for the traditional roasted bell peppers on their sandwiches (and salads).

[...]

Related Posts:

Basic White Beans

7 Jan

basic white beans

When I first arrived in South America and found myself faced with a dismal selection of canned beans (the few that were available being expensive and poor quality), I was very disheartened. Beans are a staple in my cooking, and I wasn’t sure how I’d manage. Now, though, I feel glad to have been forced into cooking up dried beans. After many batches of black beans, I decided to try my hand at other beans as well. This basic recipe should work with nearly any variety of white beans – I can’t say exactly what variety I used, but they were the only dried white beans available here, labeled simply as “porotos alubia.” Whatever the variety, they’ve been great to have on hand for putting on salads or in soups, and when I ran out of the beans themselves, I even used the remaining cooking liquid to add extra flavor and richness to a simple lentil and vegetable soup. I look forward now to cooking up my weekly batch of beans, and I think this is a habit I’ll keep even after I return somewhere with canned beans readily available.

[...]

Related Posts:

Hot Crash Potatoes

4 Jan

hot crash potatoes

When I was in college, I wasn’t much of a chef. I definitely preferred buying a fast food burrito to cooking a meal for myself. But I slowly started learning very basic recipes and cooking them over and over – grilled cheese with tomato, egg in the hole, that sort of thing. These hot crash potatoes, though, were one of my favorites. A more ambitious dish than the rest of what I was cooking at the time, since it involves boiling and then baking the potatoes, meaning 45 minutes to an hour of cook time, though most of it is only spent waiting. Embarrassingly, I’d just eat a batch of these as a meal (maybe topped with bacon). Recently, I had a couple potatoes hanging around, so I thought I’d dig up this old classic. These days, it seems really simple compared to what I usually cook, but, as before, the crisp edges and creamy interior make these potatoes hard to resist. This is also one of the first recipes I learned to get creative with, varying the toppings on the potatoes to suit my mood. My favorite additions are still simple – minced garlic, paprika for a little extra color, cheese of any sort (though they’re also just fine without it), and a sprinkle of fresh herbs at the end.

[...]

Related Posts:

Pickled Red Onions

2 Jan

pickled red onions

The hardest part of moving, for me, is adapting to a new kitchen. Here, I only have a two-burner electric stove and a tiny sink (far too small for the amount of dirty dishes I produce), alongside a small square of counter space. I’m doing my best to adjust my habits, planning ahead to make sure I’ll have a burner free and being extra strict about cleaning dishes as I go. But, unlike my last place, there’s a full-sized refrigerator, so I have room again to stock up on little goodies like these pickled red onions. The onions still have a crunch to them and retain some of their characteristically strong taste, but the bite is mellowed by vinegar and sugar, with hot peppers tossed in to add a lingering kick of spiciness. They’re surprisingly addictive, and I find myself reaching for them over and over, an amazing addition to salads and sandwiches and great complement to all sorts of beans and meats. I like how versatile their simple flavor is, fitting in with a variety of cuisines – anything from Mexican (perch them atop tacos) to Indian (use as a side to balance rich curries) to Greek (sprinkle on a salad with feta). Although my favorite might just be snacking on them plain, something I can’t resist doing any time I open the refrigerator and spy them.

[...]

Related Posts:

Balsamic Pickled Cherries

24 Dec

balsamic pickled cherries

Cherries are in season here in South America, and while I’ve been enjoying eating them out of hand (and using them in place of strawberries in my strawberry bourbon lemonade), I wanted to get a little more creative. I’m a big fan of pickled fruit (like peaches), since I find the natural sweetness of fruit is well-complemented by the tartness of vinegar. This recipe caught my eye – although I’d never seen anything pickled with balsamic vinegar before, cherries and balsamic seemed like a perfect match. The result was everything I’d hoped for. An amazing blend of sweet and tart, these cherries are amazing on salads and sandwiches, and I think they’d also make a great addition to a cheese plate. The added benefit to this recipe is the cherry-infused balsamic vinegar – great for salad dressings or drizzling anywhere you’d use balsamic.

[...]

Related Posts: