Tag Archives | side dish

Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Pistachios



We are three weeks into 2015 and I’m wondering…how’s the new year going for everyone?

I feel like I’ve been on a blogging vacation for waaaay too long and I’m determined to spend more time in this space from here on out (if that sounded like a resolution, it’s not).  The truth is that for many years I didn’t believe in New Years resolutions…or intentions…or whatever you want to call them.  I think I get it, though.  A definitive time start to changing things for the better.

Taking action.

For the past several years, my resolution has been to be a blessing to others.  I thought this was a pretty simple and somewhat easy-to-achieve goal, but in reality it isn’t.  It’s such a general intention that without specific steps or actions, it’s been forgotten pretty quickly.  To that end, I came up with some more realistic steps I could take that would hopefully result in blessing others by more of a “trickle-down” effect:

1).  Make eye contact and say hello to people in public.  The cashier at the pharmacy when I pick up a prescription.  The mechanic when I take the car for an oil change.  The person checking out my books at the library.  It’s so easy when we have a huge list of errands to run to go about our business with the mindset of moving on to the next thing we have to do.  We all say “how are you doing”, but more times than not it’s just a pleasantry.  Making eye contact is the key.  When I engage that person for a few seconds (instead of looking down at my wallet or my phone), I see faces soften and smiles.

2).  Use all of the food and toiletries we have in the house before buying more.  This is hard for me (but so right for our budget) on so many levels.  Sometimes I want a roast chicken, but we have a freezer full of perfectly good stuff that isn’t roast chicken.   Sometimes I’m convinced the shampoo my hairdresser uses to wash my hair is going to make my life better and have to have it, but I already have two bottles of shampoo at home.  This is already impacting our budget and I’m only three weeks in.

3).  Finally, I’m going to stay off of social media (specifically Facebook) as much as possible.  I’ve written an entire piece (but decided against posting it) on why I dislike Facebook, but I continue to log in primarily to manage the blog page.  Narcissism, politics, mean-spirits, gaming invitations-I’m over it.

Moving on…

I decided to go back to clean eating and working out the weekend after Christmas so that I wouldn’t look like one of “those” New Year resolution makers.  The thing with clean eating and cooking at home is that you really have to amp up your condiment game to boost flavors in vegetables, whole grains, and meats.

Enter preserved lemons.

preserved lemons

Thin-skinned lemons cured in salt and lemon juice are used in a lot of Moroccan recipes.  After sitting in salt and juice for a period of time, the lemons develop a flavor that is bright, intense and a little funky.  They aren’t eaten straight up, though.  The preserved lemon peel can be chopped and added to salad dressing, seafood, or grain salads for a concentrated kick of lemony flavor.

To make your own, I refer you to the kitchn.  You can’t get much easier than lemons and salt.  The only thing I do differently is that I halve this recipe  and use wide mouth pint jars.  It’s hard to say how many lemons you will need to fill the jar because it depends on the size.  The lemons I purchased this year were almost the size of oranges and I only needed two for each quart jar.  Also, I add a few peppercorns and cardamom pods, but that’s totally optional.

Take note that you won’t typically see photos of the lemons after they’ve cured for a couple of months because they just don’t have that crisp brightness as when they’re first placed in the jar.  Truthfully, they’re not very pretty.

Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Pistachios


  • 1 1/4 cups Israeli couscous, or other grain or small pasta cooked according to directions
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit-I used cherries, but you can use chopped dates, raisins, etc.
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • black pepper

Place the butter in a large bowl. Separate and discard the pulp from the rind of the preserved lemon. Finely dice the preserved lemon rind and add to the butter along with parsley, dried fruit, pistachios, salt and cinnamon.

Cook the couscous: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the couscous and cook according to package instructions. Drain and add to the bowl. Stir gently until the butter is melted and the ingredients are well mixed with the couscous. Add salt and pepper to taste.






Roasted Beets with Chimichurri Sauce

roasted beets with chimichurri sauce

I know this comes a bit late, but lets talk about Mother’s Day.  Was it nice?  Did you spend quality time with your children?  What about your mother?

My Mother’s Day was especially special.  It was the first year that my husband gave our daughter money and turned her loose in a store to choose a gift without any guidance from him (she chose thoughtfully:  two books and a set of unique measuring cups) and we went out for dinner.

Even though many folks choose to go out for dinner or brunch on Mother’s Day, we usually order in just for that reason.  We aren’t crowd people.  We like to take it quiet and easy (most of the time).  Ordering in-either sushi or good Italian from the pasta kitchen up the street-just makes sense to us on holidays where restaurants are bustling.

Until this year.

Because we are busy (as are most families) we often don’t get to have a sit-down dinner.  Meetings run late.  School activities interfere.  The few times a week we do get to break bread together are often rushed.  That is the crux of why I enjoy eating out as a family:  I’m not rushing around to get everything on the table and they are…well, they are a captive audience.  No excusing themselves from the table as soon as they are finished to get back to whatever they need or want to do.

I made a reservation at one of our new favorite places to eat in north Baltimore, the Shoo-Fly Diner.  Shoo-Fly is the retro diner creation of James Beard nominee Spike Gjede, owner of the much-acclaimed (and arguably best restaurant in Baltimore) Woodberry Kitchen, as well as Artifact Coffee.  Of course, I waited until about two weeks before Mother’s Day to make the reservation, so I had to settle for a 4 pm time slot.  It worked to our advantage, before the dinner rush and leaving enough time in the early evening to enjoy the sunset back home on the patio.

Everything on the menu looked amazing and we had a hard time deciding.  We finally settled on several appetizers and the beet side-dish, which was highly recommended by the waitstaff.


People have very extreme opinions about them.  I often see them in the trade box at the CSA pick-up and I am the only one in my family who likes them.  So I ordered them.  And they were amazing.  Like…stole-the-show amazing.  The “secret”, the waitress said, was the chimichurri sauce.  I took the rest home and ate them for breakfast the next day out of the carton with a fork standing at the refrigerator.

I mean, isn’t that the highest compliment you can pay to food?

Chimicurri sauce, which is sometimes made with parsley, sometimes cilantro, or both, is quiet versatile.  It can be eaten with all kinds of meat, seafood, or vegetables.  You can even top eggs with it.  It can be used right away, but turns into a real beauty when made a day ahead allowing the flavors to build.

Roasted Beets with Chimichurri Sauce


  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh minced oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-5 medium-sized beets (a mixture of golden and red, if you prefer)
  • 2-3 radishes, finely chopped

Roast the beets:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Wash beets and cut off roots and stems

Wrap beets in aluminum foil and roast in preheated oven 50-60 minutes or until you can easily slide a thin knife into them.

Let beets cool slightly and carefully slide the skins off. Cut into 1-1/2" chunks.

Make the chimichurri sauce:

Warm the olive oil in a small skillet on low heat. As soon as it starts to simmer, remove skillet and add the garlic and the herbs. Allow to cool slightly.

Place the cilantro and parsley in a food processor and pulse a couple of times, just enough to mince them. You don't want to pulverize them.

Place the mixture in a bowl and add the olive oil with herbs. Stir until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top roasted beets with chimichurri sauce (you may not use it all).

Add chopped radishes.





Oven-Baked Crispy Onion Rings

Baked onion rings

When something is more trouble than it might be worth, I’m going to tell you the truth.

If you love/miss crunchy fried onion rings and don’t mind a teensy bit of mess, then these are definitely a healthier alternative.  My oft-professed love of all things onion make these a crave-worthy substitute for the deep fried variety, but the prep relegates them to only the occasional serving.

Serve with a little sriracha veganaise and you’ve got yourself some bonafide bar food.

Oven-Baked Crispy Onion Rings


  • 2 large sweet onions (such as visalia), sliced to 1/2 and rings separated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (homemade, if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cup cornflakes (I use Arrowhead Mills organic Corn Flakes)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/4 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

In a food processor, pulse corn flakes and bread crumbs until ground to a meal. Place half in a shallow plate or bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, flour, and cayenne pepper to to form a batter.

Carefully dip each onion ring into the batter first, shake off excess. Place in crumb mixture, using a fork or spoon to press the onion into the crumbs and coat on all sides. Lay the onion ring on a plate or platter.

Continue dipping and coating each onion in this manner. When the crumb mixture becomes too lumpy to work with, add the remaining crumbs to the bowl and continue until all onion rings are coated.

Place the olive oil in a rimmed baking sheet and preheat in oven for 2-3 minutes.

Remove carefully from oven and place the onion rings in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Return to oven and cook until onion rings are golden brown and crispy, about 15 minutes, turning halfway through.

Salt and pepper to taste while still on cookie sheet.


Oven-baked Onion Rings


Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes