Tag Archives: vegetable side-dish

Roasted Vegetables 101 – Learn how to do this right every time!!!

I made this big sheet pan of roasted vegetables the other night simply because I had not enough of any one thing to make a complete side dish. However, when I threw everything into one big bowl and tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper it transformed into a robust feast for a crowd!

A visually

A visually mouth-watering dish! (roasted red potatoes, crimini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots)

I am posted this to demonstrate what you can do withย  odds and ends and how you can feed a crowd without too much effort. Roasting vegetables bring out their sweetness and imparts great depth of flavor. You can roast most any vegetable.

roast cherry tomatoes (and hot peppers if you choose to use them)

roasted cherry tomatoes and hot peppers

All of these accompaniments can be used in a myriad of different ways. Sometimes (like the other night in the top photograph) I simply serve alongside the protein (which can be anything: chops, chicken or fish!) or I add it to pasta which makes a lightning fast dinner.


Green beans are fabulous when roasted!

ย The only thing you have to be careful about is to select vegetables that have roughly the same cooking times. In other words: don’t roast zucchini with potatoes or you will end up with zucchini mush! AND size matters: always cut your vegetables approximately the same size or some will cook faster than others!

As are asparagus!

As are asparagus!

Now that we are hurdling towards colder weather, my oven will be busy roasting up all sorts of vegetables to bolster the flavor of our evening meals, not to mention keeping my kitchen toasty warm!


You will need:

choose up to three or four of the list below:

2 to 3 tbs olive oil to coat (use more oil for porous veggies such as mushrooms and less for roots veggies)

Salt and pepper for seasoning (start with a teaspoon or more of salt and several grinds of pepper – this bit is very personal so if you like more seasoning add according to your tasteย  – or less for that matter)

4 medium potatoes – large dice (no need to peel – just washed and dried)

1 large sweet potato or yam – peeled and large dice

1 lb baby carrots

12 oz to 1 lb cherry tomatoes (any color!)

1/2 lb (more if you like) mushrooms – quartered (any kind you like or have on hand)

3 parsnips – sliced into 1 inch pieces and quartered (or halved depending on the size)

1/2 lb green beans – left whole

Below are other veggies with different cooking time instructions!


Preheat oven to 450*

1 – While oven is preheating, prepare all of your selected veggies and place in a very large bowl or container. Add the oil and mix it through the vegetables until everything is coated. Add your seasonings and mix it in.

Roast Veggies

Roast Veggies

ย 2 – Place vegetables on large baking sheet in an even single layer without “crowding the pan! Place in the oven. Cook for about 18 minutes before removing. Wait for about 30 seconds before turning (waiting gives the vegetables time to release a little moisture and thereby makes them easy to toss). Return to oven for 12 minutes and then check for doneness by tasting. Remove if ready or return for another few minutes checking often.

I served in a large warmed bowl

I served in a large warmed bowl

ย A nice (and easy) way to serve these is in a large warm serving bowl with a big spoon, or of course you can serve onto the plates right from the sheet pan (or toss straight into the dish you are making).

prep asparagus

Asparagus roasting time: about 25 minutes, turning after 15 or so minutes.

roast  set aside

ย I roast cherry tomatoes very often on their own. I use them on grilled sandwiches (cold or hot), omelets and toss them into pasta dishes. They roast quickly on their own – about 10 – 12 minutes total, turning halfway through the cooking time.

sweet potatoes done

sweet potatoes fries are delicious – recipe HERE

French Fries..

Simply the best French Fries. Hand cut, toss in olive oil, season with salt and pepper (definitely salt, and maybe pepper) and cook for 18 minutes, turn and cook for another 12 before checking for doneness.

saute onions

Pearl onions are great roasted – especially alongside root veggies such as potatoes, carrots and parsnips – they cook in the same time frame as root vegetables.

add spices, then cauliflower

Cauliflower is also fantastic when roasted – will post my favorite roasted cauliflower recipe soon!

Fry Zucchini & squash

Zucchini & squash are best roasted in halves

roast eggplant

Eggplant can be roasted in rounds or cubes (recipe for cubes HERE)

Delicious roasted vegetables..

Delicious roasted vegetables..

Amazing Simmered or Baked Bok Choy Side-Dish (serves 4)

Have you every gotten carried away at the supermarket and bought something that is a little out of your cooking comfort zone? This happens to me when the whole place seems to exude freshness at every turn, when every display and every shelf looks colorful and inviting. I once arrived home with an African cucumber because my son begged me to buy it, and, there it sat on the counter-top that evening, while I sat looking at it flummoxed!

baby bok choy

Baby bok choy

Well, while baby bok choy is not in the same league as the African cucumber, it certainly has a way of making people feel a little confused about how to cook it. Most people think it is more for Asian cooking, buying it to add a little something different to a stir-fry. I say it can be used like any other green veggie, and can even be served whole with fried sausages and mashed potatoes. At least that is how I served it the other night!

great side-dish

Great side-dish

I love bok choy. It has a great refreshing crunchy stem and the leaves, when cooked, are rich and silky smooth in your mouth. I am pretty typical in that I use it in stir-fry dishes but I also love to cook it and chop it into mashed potatoes for the Irish dish Colcannon (instead of cooked green cabbage) and finally, I love to cook it whole in a little broth in the oven or on the stove top. It works especially well if it is baby bok choy (just a smaller version) and everyone gets to enjoy their very own. Presenting it like this makes it feel very special and no one loves to see this coming to the table more than my kids.

Time to give this not-so-common vegetable a try!


*This is a great Blood Type A Diet recipe!*

You will need:

4 to 6 baby bok choy, left whole

1 shallot, chopped (if you don’t have a shallot, the recipe will still work!)

2 cups veggie or chicken stock (or water and good quality bouillon cube)

2 or 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs soy sauce (see note at end of recipe for a note about this)

2 tbs mirin (see note at end of recipe for a note about this)


*If you are going to cook on the stove top you have to use a saute pan. you can use either a saute pan or a casserole dish if you cook in the oven*

Preheat oven 400* (no need if cooking on stove top)

1 – Saute the chopped shallot in a little olive oil until it has softened (about 5 minutes). Use a saute pan big enough to hold all the bok choy snugly or you can saute the shallot in a small pan and transfer to a casserole for the rest of the dish.

Saute shallots

Saute shallots

2 – Add the stock, soy and mirin to the pan (or transfer shallots to a casserole and continue with the recipe) and add the bok choy in a single layer placing each one in the opposite direction to the one beside it (cooks more evenly that way!). Drizzle with 2 tbs of oil and cover with a lid or tin foil.ย  Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes or cover with lid and simmer on stove top for 20 minutes.

Prep bok choy

Prep bok choy

Serve with anything you like. We had it with sausages and mashed potatoes, but it can be served with whatever main course you cook.

et voila!

et voila!

Note: You can omit the soy and mirin if you want a cleaner taste. Just make sure to season with salt and pepper.

Creamed Fresh Spinach – Great Side-Dish And A Delcicous And Easy Way to Sneak Greens Into You Diet!

I love spinach but lots of people turn up their nose in disgust when they see it on their plate: my daughter for example. She is fine when it is in a brothy soup or disguised in a pie, but a big pile of slightly wilted spinach on the side of her plate can send her into a squirmy fit. You would swear I was trying to punish or poison her!

Eat your spinach!

Eat your spinach!

Over the years I have seen lots of recipes with “creamed spinach”, and it always appears on American diner menus as one of the sides. I did not grow up eating it and so never found it appealing. I had a huge bunch of spinach that needed to be cooked the other night, and the only way to get rid of it in a hurry was to cook it down. When it was cooked I felt it needed something so I cooked an onion and added cream. I must have been thinking of creamed spinach because this is what it turned out to be.

And it was delicious: my daughter’s words, not mine. Get the picture: even the worst of skeptics succumb to a bowl of creamy greeny spinach!


You will need:

1 1/2 to 2 lbs fresh spinach, washed and left wet

1 medium sweet onion, small dice

1 1/2 tbs unsalted butter

1 tsp sea-salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)

1/2 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)


1 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and add the wet spinach. Cover with lid and cook until spinach is soft and wilted, stirring occasionally. You may need to do this in two batches (if your pan is small). Transfer to a big colander and let it cool. When it has cooled, squeeze as much of the moisture out as possible. Do this by squeezing with your hands and pressing the spinach into the sides of the colander with a big spoon. Remove from colander and chop. Set aside.

cook spinach

Cook spinach

2 – While spinach is cooling, melt butter under medium heat in same pan used to cook spinach. When it has melted, add the onions and cook until soft (about 6 or 7 minutes).

saute onions

Saute onions

3 – Add the salt, pepper, pepper flakes (if using), and cream and stir. When cream is hot, turn pan down and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.

add cream

Add cream

4 – Add the spinach and mix everything together. When it has completely warmed through it is ready to serve.

Creamed Fresh Spinach

Creamed Fresh Spinach

I like to garnish each serving with a thin wedge of lemon. A little lemon juice squeezed over the spinach gives it a fresh zing.

a squeeze of lemon is a lovely addition

A squeeze of lemon is a lovely addition

Fantastic Vegetable Side-Dish: Sauteed Green Beans with Pearl Onions & Toasted Almond Flakes. (serves 6)

Fantastic side-dish

This looks yummy, right? Take it from the one who devoured it: yes, more than yummy though, more like scrummdiddly!

There are certain ingredients I buy without any notions about what to do with them, or indeed in what dish I should use them, and green beans and pearl onions happen to be in that category. The reason for such purchasing abandon is that both of these vegetables are very hardy and can languish for weeks while I ponder and procrastinate.

green beans also last for ages in the fridge

Green beans are the greatest green vegetable around. They can take all sorts of abuse, like long slow cooking with beef or pork, and at the other end of the cooking spectrum,ย can be quick fried with a little soy sauce and mirin and taste equally delicious.

netted pearl onions (good for weeks!)

I love these little onions which give a sweetness to any dish they are part of. The only finicky part is getting off their very thin onion skin, which actually puts me off cooking them more often. There is a trick to that problem (blanching them first), but it is still a bit of a pain, and takes more time than I have most evenings.

There are other times however when they are worth the trouble, and this was one of those times. I cooked them as part of our Thanksgiving meal last week and am strongly thinking of making them for Christmas too. Sauteing beans with little pearl onions, while adding a few more ingredients I happen to have lying around, made this a feast unto itself.

I strongly suggest your arming yourself with onions and beans, and when the humor takes you…make this!


You will need:

2 cups pearl onions

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 lbs green beans, cut into 1/2 ” to 1″ pieces

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup slivered almonds (finely sliced almonds) & Toasted (directions below)

1 tsp coarse sea-salt (I used Maldon sea salt flakes)

freshly cracked black pepper,

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

1 tsp cumin (optional)get


chop green beans

1 – Prep ingredients (chop beans, chop garlic, and gather the rest of the ingredients. Toast almond: Preheat oven to 350* and spread almonds in a single layer on baking sheet. place in oven and cook for 4 minutes, turn and continue to cook for another 4 minutes. Place in bowl to add in dish later.

blanch onions

2 – The onions need to be blanched and peeled as follows: Put pot of water on high and when it boils add the onions. Cook at a rolling boil for about 3 minutes. Drain in colander and when they have cooled, snip the root end with a scissors and pop the onion out by squeezing the other end with your thumb and index finger. The onion will pop right out. (you may loose the first layer of onion, but what you loose is made up greatly by how speedy and fuss-free this process is)

saute onions

3 – Put big saute pan on med/ high heat and add oil. When it is hot, add the onions and cook until starting to get brown spots all over (about 6 to 8 minutes).

add green beans

4 – Add the green beans, garlic and thyme sprigs and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Add more oil if necessary. Cook until beans are cooked but still have a bite (pop them in your mouth as you go to test).

add seasonings and almonds

5 – Add the salt, several grinds of pepper, cumin and pepper flakes (if using) and stir. Taste and add more of everything if you think it needs it. Finally add the toasted almonds and stir.

Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve. This can be made hours before and reheated very quickly in the pan right before serving.

Day 3: Amazing Sand Sculptures On The Beach. (Also, promised Green Bean Side-Dish (serves 4-6)

Evening on the beach

The most memorable thing about Day 3 at the beach were the beautiful sand sculptures made by my kids, their friend, and my friend Celine – wow!

Celine’s buddha

We walked down to the beach before sunset because I needed to take pictures of these masterpieces, as well as to of course watch the sun setting on the watery horizon.

Part of an Etruscan City wall

We were a little scared that they might have been vandalized by rowdy kids (or adults!), but they were still thankfully still very much in tact, and the kids began working on them again.

Figure with snake

I was amazed at how much work they put into things that would be washed away overnight by the relentless rolling of the waves. They excavating, and dug with intensity, all the while discussing the ultimate story of the piece.ย 

Building an ancient sand city

One part was an Etruscan City, with tombs, buildings, and the essential wall that protected everything. The wall then extended to protect the buddha guarding the city, while the figure outside the wall battled with a snake.

Extending the city walls

I hung out watching the sand building, sipping my wine and chatting with my friends. Then, we all got to enjoy the great red ball that was the sun slowing dip out of sight and move to the other side of the world. And to think that this happens every single day.

Beach sunset


Here is the recipe for the green bean side-dish I served with my meatloaf the other night (type meatloaf in search box to the right of the blog).

*This is a Blood Type A Diet Recipe*

This is a great way to cook green beans, and it seems to be a green that pleases even the most vegetable-phobic person!

Green Bean Side-Dish

You will need:

1 lb green beans, washed, and string-end snapped off

1 large sweet or yellow onion, large dice or sliced into medium/thin half rounds

3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional & omit for Blood Type A Diet)

1 tsp ground cumin (optional)

1 tsp sea-salt (I use Maldon sea-salt flakes)

several grinds black pepper (omit for Blood type A diet)

4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil


1 – Put 1 1/2 cups water in big pot and place on high heat. When it boils, add the beans and cover with lid. Boil for 4 or 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to colander and cool down beans with cold water. Set aside.

2 – Put large saute pan (big enough for the beans) on medium heat and add the oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne flakes or cumin (if you are using).

3 – Turn heat up and add the green beans. Cook for 5 minutes on high heat, stirring often. Add more oil if necessary. Turn off pan and serve.

*You can cook everything up to the last step (# 3), and finish right before serving*

Green Bean Side-Dish

Divide between plates with a main dish of your choice.

Let’s do this again tomorrow

Green Bean & Spinach Vegetable Side-Dish (serves 4-6)

ย Sometimes making sure we eat something green with every meal, can be a hassle or very hum-drum (like a salad!). Here is a great green side-dish to add to your repertoire.

Green Bean & Spinach Vegetable Side-Dish

It is green, healthy and delicious!


You will need: 3 cups green beans, 8 scallions, sliced, 4 sage leaves, finely chopped, 10 oz spinach leaves, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes, 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 cup chicken or veggie broth, sea-salt and black pepper to taste.

1 – Put pot of water on to boil. When it boils, add the green beans and blanch for about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. When cool enough to handle, cut the beans into 1 inch pieces (or a little smaller).

2 – Put large saute pan on medium/low heat and add oil. When it has warmed up, add the scallions and cook for about 5 or 6 minutes. Add the green beans and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add the chopped sage and stir.

saute scallions,, then blanched green beans

3 – Turn the heat up and add the broth and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, turn off head and add the spinach. Stir until it wilts (about 1 or so minutes). Do not add the spinach until right before serving.

* You can cook this ahead up to adding the broth, and turn of pan until ready to add the spinach. Then simply turn heat on again, bring to a boil and add the spinach*

add spinach

Creamy Squash and Pepper Side-Dish (serves 6)

I wanted to revisit this great recipe. Sometimes when I make a side-dish to go along with my main meal, the accompaniment can get lost in the shadows.

I wanted to give this little gem it’s very own spotlight, and get you excited about using squash to go with some of your hearty, robust winter dinners. Besides adding a lovely flash of color to your plate, it is also so good for you, and delicious beyondย  belief!

Consider cooking this the next time you have an unwieldly squash sitting in your kitchen, and you don’t want to make soup!


You will need: 1 winter squash, peeled , scooped & diced, 2 tbs oil, 1 tbs unsalted butter, 1 small yellow onion, small dice, 2 long skinny red peppers (Anaheim), OR, 1 green pepper, diced, 1/2 tsp of curry powder, (if your curry is very mild, use 1 tsp), 1 sprig thyme, 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 tsp sea-salt, (I use Maldon Salt), several grinds cracked black pepper.

blanch squash

1 โ€“ย  Put a pot of water on and when it boils, add the diced squash and cook covered for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

saute peppers & onions

2 โ€“ Put saute pan on medium heat and add the oil and butter. When it has warmed, add the onions and peppers and cook for 12 or so minutes, until vegetables are soft.

3 โ€“ Add the squash and thyme sprig, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add the curry powder, salt and pepper and stir into vegetables. Add cream and turn heat down to low. Keep warm until ready to serve (you may want to thin it out more, and you can do so by adding a tbs of cream or brothย  until you are satisfied with the consistency).