Sides

Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad

A Caribbean flu hit our household in Haiti this week. First Paul, then me, now the kids. Sigh. During times of illness, my go-to comfort food is the reassuringly simple, cool, and refreshing cucumber. Cucumbers are my vegetable equivalent of chicken soup. As I gradually felt better throughout the week, my cucumber salads became more elaborate and flavorful. This Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad, a Thai-inspired riff, is crunchy, sour,  and salty, with a hint of coconut sweetness.

Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad

Marinated Tomato Mozzarella Salad

It has been a bit of a blur since Gideon's arrival, as we remember what it's like to go weeks without a full nights sleep. Little Gideon and Mom are both doing well, and so we are on track to returning to Haiti in early August. As we wrap up our last weeks here, stateside, we are relishing the tastes of North American summer: impossibly good sweet corn, tart local blueberries with a dash of cream, and fresh peak-of-summer tomatoes and herbs. This Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Salad has been a frequent highlight on our table these last few weeks. It is ready in minutes, bursting with summer flavor, a balance of bright sweet tomatoes and creamy fresh mozzarella.

Marinated Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Asparagus with Fresh Herb Sauce Gribiche

Paul and I started dating 12 years ago, and quickly found that we had some pretty distinct food preferences. At the time, I professed to hate red meat, Paul loved it. I obsessed over salty briney flavors, which caused Paul to shudder. Time has made converts of us both. In fact, one of the first things I craved on a trip back to to North America from Haiti was a perfectly grilled steak. Paul's tastes have changed as well. Half a dozen years ago, when I first started making tangy sauce gribiche, I was on my own eating it. No longer. We like to make a big pile of asparagus and slather on this winning mustardy, eggy, French sauce gribiche. For the French cooking enthusiasts out there, I will note that this is my own, non-traditional version of the classic sauce gribiche.

Asparagus with Fresh Herb Sauce Gribiche

Spiced Moroccan Carrot Salad

When the winter chills set in, this colorful tangerine hued salad, with its bright splashes of pomegranate, feta, and cilantro is a full flavored pick you up. This is a long-standing recipe in our repertoire, with a captivating citrus and spice vinaigrette. 

Spiced Moroccan Carrot Salad

Potato Beet Salad

The days are hot, school is out, the grill is fired up, and it's potato salad season. We're adding some color to ours today with a Haitian variation of Potato Beet Salad. Potatoes and beets are a lovely earthy combination with some parsley, and pickled red onions, this is great mellow tasting accompaniment to your early summer grilling. Check out other non-traditional potato salad variations: moroccan roasted sweet potato saladgrilled potato salad with jalapeno, bacon & blue cheese & tuscan potato salad.

Potato Beet Salad

Haitian Pikliz

It is a big week for us. Friday marked our first official day as country representatives, and tomorrow we are moving into our new house. The thought of unpacking after 6 months makes me giddy! This week's transition seems more final than the previous ones, it feels like we have finally arrived at our destination, Haiti is home. As we have explored Haitian culture through food, pikliz was our first culinary attempt. Pikliz is a beloved Haitian condiment; a pickled cabbage dish with spices and citrus notes, that often accompanies rich or fried foods. Our usual make-taste-adjust routine was somewhat stymied, when after our 9th batch, we just couldn't seem to get a consensus from our Haitian friends and co-workers, of the flavor profile for the perfect pikliz. More heat, more sweet, less sour, more citrus, less salt, more salt, add color, more crunch. Finally we figured it out, there is no perfect master recipe. This is our favorite version of our many, many batches. Enjoy tinkering with the recipe to make pikliz your own. This tangy condiment is fantastic with all manner of meathot dogsburgers, and stewed dishes.

Haitian Pikliz

Black Pepper & Lime Caesar Salad

My mother and sister flew to Haiti last week, the final visit in an amazing month of family guests. First Madeline's uncle arrived on a spur of the moment 48-hour trip to cuddle his new niece. Next to arrive was her grandpa and grandma, traveling to Haiti from Indiana, narrowly avoiding a political protest near the airport on the day of their arrival. Madeline's omi and opi from Canada made it in time to see her first smiles, and last week she met her aunt from Pittsburgh for the first time. It has been an incredible expression of love and support from both of our families as they trekked to Haiti, schlepping our many bags along with them. Each time, as I passed our little daughter over to her newly arrived family member, it was a moving experience. Perhaps it's the postpartum hormones... but there was just something about the contrast of having moved to a new place without family, and then watching the faces of our parents and siblings as they held our daughter for the first time that put a lump in my throat. So how does this all relate to this most excellent black pepper lime caesar salad recipe you might ask? My family is nuts for caesar salad. So as I paced the house waiting for my mother and sisters' delayed flight last week, I made my new favorite variation with black pepper and lime. I perfected this version over the last few months while pregnant and unable to eat the classic caesar dressing with raw eggs. I discovered mayonnaise to be a creamy and delicious substitute and swapped out the traditional lemon in favor of local key limes. This is an addictive dressing, so I recommend just going ahead and doubling it the first time.

Black Pepper & Lime Caesar Salad

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Brussels sprouts are a miniature member of the cabbage family that has seen a well deserved rise in popularity in recent years; with restaurants now featuring dishes ranging from Brussels sprouts brushcetta, Brussels grilled cheese, raw Brussels slaw, to charred Brussels pizza. As with all cabbage relatives, we particularly love our Brussels cooked at high heat with punchy accents of garlic, vinegar, salt, and bacon. Brussels Sprouts With Bacon is simple and delicious; a perfect fall side. If you are looking for more Brussels inspiration, check out our Barley Risotto With Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Ginger Sesame Green Beans

We celebrated Labor Day in Connecticut with Paul's brother and sister-in-law with lots of amazing vegetarian food. We left salty breezes behind and arrived back to the hot, humid jungly hills of Pittsburgh last night to a barren fridge yielding a dinner of either hotdogs or green beans. We opted to continue the vegetarian theme of the weekend, and whipped up a batch of these Ginger Sesame Green Beans we have been loving all summer. Spicy, tangy and gingery, these green beans are addictive! Check out our summer bounty round-up for other ideas for summer vegetables.

Ginger Sesame Green Beans

Southwest Black Bean Salad

In high school while browsing for recipes for a Mother’s Day brunch, I was struck by a colorful sounding 'Stoplight Salad' in my Mom’s copy of Simply in Season. My sister and I added it to our Mother’s Day menu that year, and it became a family staple. Through the years, I have created my own version with a bit more of a Southwest flair, swapping in a potent lime-cumin vinaigrette and handfuls of herbs and fruit for contrast. In college, when I needed a dish for a potluck with some Amish friends, I didn’t think twice before whipping up my Southwest Black Bean Salad…what had seemed like a good idea in my dorm room started making me nervous when I saw my garishly bright salad sitting amidst a table of creamy noodle casseroles. Before I could withdraw my food offering, the head cook stuck her spoon in my salad, and I was given a nod of approval, I quietly let out my breath and tried to act nonchalant. Southwest Black Bean Salad is a pungent, bright, and refreshing salad with corn, tomatoes, herbs, and a customizable base of seasonal vegetables and fruit. It has been my most requested recipe over the years, and is an infinity adaptable salad that will be devoured every time. I’d love to hear your favorite combinations! To read more about Simply in Season and our other favorite cookbooks, check out our Bookshelf.

Southwest Black Bean Salad

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta with Queso Fresco

Normally tomatoes and I aren't close. I am that annoying person who picks them out of my salad and fishes tomatoes out of my sandwich, it's an embarrassing trait. This tomato avoidance changes each summer with the arrival of beautiful, sweet, summer tomatoes. This week we got two colorful striped heirloom tomatoes from our CSA and my tomato appetite returned with a vengeance. Paul had just pulled a grainy loaf of sourdough bread out of the oven, our basil plants were looking lush and prime for the picking, and so decided on bruschetta for dinner. We gobbled up a platter for an al fresco summer dinner.

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta with Queso Fresco

Grilled Potato Salad with Jalapeno, Bacon, & Blue Cheese

Grilled Potato Salad with Jalapeno, Bacon, and Blue Cheese is inspired by my father-in-law’s love of bacon, blue cheese, and caramelized onions. This 'salad' is decadent and packed with rich flavors. The grilled new potatoes are tossed in a garlic jalapeno vinaigrette and layered with smoky slices of thick-cut grilled bacon, sweet charred red onions, and pungent blue cheese. Move over mayo, there's a new potato salad in town! 

Grilled Potato Salad with Jalapeno, Bacon, & Blue Cheese

Wild Rice & Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms & Asparagus

I opened the fridge after a long weekend of travel, and found slim pickings aside from some local asparagus and mushrooms.  At this point, feeling too tired to grocery shop, I needed to get creative. Raiding our pantry for grains, I made this impromptu spring wild rice and quinoa salad with sautéed asparagus and mushrooms. I added thyme, citrus, and almonds to round out this light and vibrant dinner, and felt ready to take on the week.

Wild Rice & Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms & Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus & Halloumi with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

May is cooperating rather well, and we are eating our way into spring with Asparagus. We threw a crisp bunch on a hot grill this week, along with cherry tomatoes and local halloumi cheese, and drizzled the chunky spears with a fresh and summer inspired tomato and basil vinaigrette. To a lovely weekend of eating!

Grilled Asparagus & Halloumi with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Crunchy Broccoli Stem Slaw with Hoisin Vinaigrette

We’ve been taking our meals outside and the on the road recently, with sunny skies and weekend trips.  This supremely Crunchy Broccoli Stem Slaw with Hoisin Vinaigrette is a portable salad win. We love this slaw for its deeply satisfying crispness, starting  the brilliant use of thinly sliced broccoli stems, slivered red cabbage, bright carrots, crunchy peanuts and baked tortilla strips top off this slaw, with a punchy Asian inspired vinaigrette featuring hoisin and ginger. With a base of sturdy veggies, this slaw only improves as it sits, making it a prime work or school lunch, travel salad, or potluck dish. To cut down on prep time, you can grab a bag of pre-cut broccoli slaw mix at your local grocery.

Crunchy Broccoli Stem Slaw with Hoisin Vinaigrette

Yucatán Quick Pickled Red Onions, Escabeche De Cebolla

It’s grilling season, and these cumin and oregano scented quick pickled red onions are the wonderfully vibrant Mexican condiment that recently took our household by storm, summarily ousting ketchup and mustard from first-shelf-fridge-status.  Since the weather is warming up, we like to keep a jar of these delicious Yucatán Quick Pickled Red Onions on hand to top burgers, hot dogs, tacos, even salads get piled with a handful of these fuchsia gems. Whip up a quick batch, and try these pickled red onions out with our Turkey Feta Burgers With Yogurt Curry SauceSmokey Ancho Cheddar Burgers,  Citrus Pulled PorkPortobello Burger, or with Baked Tofu Rice Bowl.

Yucatán Quick Pickled Red Onions, Escabeche De Cebolla

Kale Cobb Salad with Avocado Green Goddess

Kale Cobb Salad with Avocado Green Goddess is Paul's favorite salad. Let me back up a step to highlight the significance of this statement. To say Paul is not 'saladly inclined,' is to put it mildly. In fact, the one time I saw Paul order a salad in a restaurant, to my slack-jawed amazement, it turned out he was sick. But Paul's disinclination to eat raw leafy greens has not stopped me in my quest to make a salad that he will love. A few years ago I whipped up this cobb salad, and to my delight, Paul liked it... so much that he requests it for his birthday menu each year. Kale Cobb Salad with Avocado Green Goddess is not a traditional cobb salad, but uses our favorite elements, greens, tomatoes, cucumber, bacon and eggs, and adds avocado and a punchy green dressing loaded with herbs.

Kale Cobb Salad with Avocado Green Goddess

Charred Ancho Mexican Red Rice

Charred Ancho Mexican Red Rice has a mellow chile flavor and vivid hue which highlights the smokey, slightly sweet and garlicky flavors of our Garlic Ancho Chile Paste. This spicy rust colored Mexican red rice is complex and filling and can be served as a main, as a side dish to slow roasted meat, or as a starch base. Ancho chiles are ubiquitous in Mexican cuisine, we love their mild fruity flavor and always keep a large quantity on hand. Prolific Mexican cookbook author Rick Bayless, from whom this recipe is adapted, describes the flavor of anchos as “sweet dark cherries, prunes, and fresh tobacco." Charred Ancho Mexican Red Rice is an unusual rice dish, and one that has the benefit of being quick to make and can be easily made ahead, perfect for entertaining.

Charred Ancho Mexican Red Rice

Garlic Ancho Chile Paste

Mexican chile pastes of many hues and potencies dotted our fridge in the days leading up to Easter. After a spirited debate about menu and theme, we decided to cook a Mexican inspired meal for the holiday. Armed with a dozen cookbooks, bags of chiles, and advice from the helpful staff at our local Latin market, we set to work testing the recipes. After many heaps of charred chiles, garlic and herbs were pureed and perfected, we had a winner.

This Garlic Ancho Chile Paste is smokey, slightly sweet, medium spicy, and richly layered with roasted garlic and spices. Chile pastes are common in Mexican cooking, providing a complex base, potent marinade, or vibrant accent flavor. Ancho chiles are one of our favorites. These dried reddish-brown poblano chile peppers are popular in Mexican cuisine. This gorgeous paste is the starring ingredient in our Charred Ancho Mexican Red Rice and Ancho Cheddar Burgers

Garlic Ancho Chile Paste

Lime Edamame Dip

We woke up this April fools morning to a fine dusting of frost covering our spring crocuses. The joke, it appears, was on spring. It is a fickle time of year for food, we crave the soft colors and zippy flavors of spring, but still desire the hearty textures of winter. We bridge the seasons with our Lime Edamame Dip, a bold, herby dip with a buttery hazelnut taste and hearty texture. Edamame beans are green soybeans removed from their pods and eaten prior to ripening.  Edamame is typically found in Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian cooking. This dip is a fantastic crowd pleaser, and well worth sourcing edamame.

Lime Edamame Dip

Roasted Vegetable Fattoush Salad

Crunchy zatar seasoned pita chips, sweet caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, and crisp, lemon laced vegetables; our Roasted Vegetable Fattoush Salad is a perfect light dinner that hints towards the warmer months ahead.

Roasted Vegetable Fattoush Salad

Roasted Asparagus with lemon

We started our weekend with a long walk with the dogs, they sensed spring and pranced down the trail while we clomped through the mud behind them in our rain boots. Came home, roasted up a big mess of asparagus with a little lemon for a simple spring lunch. Spring is fast becoming more truth than fiction. Eat green.

Roasted Asparagus with lemon

Crisp Fennel Apple Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette

Fennel and apple pair terrifically in this simple and elegant salad, wonderful for cleansing the palate after a hearty winter stew. Fennel is a winter vegetable that brings a celery like crunch and cucumbery sweetness to this easy winter salad. We like to pair fennel and apple with a tart and salty citrus vinaigrette, and couldn't resist the bright orange color and flavor of this tangerine vinaigrette.

Crisp Fennel Apple Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette

Smokey Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Its Superbowl Sunday, which means snack day! These Smokey Sweet Potato Oven Fries are crispy, smokey, spicy, and sweet: a perfect game day (or any day) snack. We eat them year round, but always appreciate the excuse for a heaping plate. 

Smokey Sweet Potato Oven Fries