These recipes are vegetarian, main courses as well as side dishes
Who knew I’d fall in love with a pineapple salad?
Last week I conned my bestie into taking a Cambodian cooking class with me at Brooklyn Kitchen.
The Accidental Locavore did it mostly because I had no clue what Cambodian cooking was all about.
Had never eaten it.
Or cooked it.
It’s like its neighbors Vietnam, Thai, Laos, and uses the five tastes that are essential to that part of the world – sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami.
One of our favorite dishes was this pineapple salad. It makes a big bowl of salad, depending on the size of your pineapple.
Cambodian Pineapple Salad
- 1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1” chunks
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
- ¼ cup mint leaves, sliced thin
- ½ bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped (include stems)
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 2 scallions, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- Zest and juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Thai or serrano chile, thinly sliced
- 1/2” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon sambal sauce (or Sriracha)
Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small container with a (tight) lid. Shake to combine. Taste and adjust the lemon, fish sauce and chile to taste.
Pour over the salad, toss, serve and enjoy!
I guess it’s time to change (or open my mind) about sweet ingredients with savory ones. This pineapple salad is a perfect example. It’s not something I would normally make, but it was my favorite dish of the class! The dressing would be good on all kinds of things, like chicken, fish or shrimp.
As a matter of fact, everyone at my table thought the whole thing would make a wonderful ceviche!
You can add or remove almost any ingredient. I’d add basil, especially Thai Holy Basil if I came across some. The salad we had in class had red and green peppers, I’m not a huge fan, so left them out of my version. Mango could easily replace the pineapple–you get the idea. Have fun!
I made it and brought it to a Slow Food Hudson Valley meeting and everyone loved it, guess this is a keeper.
Stuffed shells used to be the Wednesday special at the pizza place near my office.
Shells and two sides for $6.50. Couldn’t beat that.
It was a family-run place that was there for years.
And I don’t think I’ve had stuffed shells since then.
These were in the NY Times recently and it seemed like the right time to give it a try.
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- 1 pound baby spinach, rinsed, or 2 pounds bunch spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly
- 12 ounces giant pasta shells
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
- 10 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 2 ounces Parmesan, grated, about 1/2 cup
- 2 cups marinara sauce
Bring a large pot of well-salted (“it should taste like the sea”) water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cook the spinach until just wilted (about 30 seconds) and transfer to the ice water, then drain. Squeeze out excess water.
Bring the water in the pot back to a boil and add the pasta shells. Cook about 10 minutes, until al dente, drain and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade chop the garlic. Add the spinach and pulse to chop finely. Add the ricotta and the egg and process until well blended.
Add 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, the chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until well blended.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil a large baking dish (or two 2-quart dishes), big enough to fit the shells in one layer.
Fill each shell with a scant tablespoon of the filling.
Arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.
Top with the tomato sauce and cover the dish with foil.
Bake 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Delicious! On Frank’s request, I added some hot Italian sausage that I’d removed from the casing, chunked up and browned.
Because making and stuffing the shells was enough work on a weeknight, I used a Tomato and Italian Olive sauce I was given to try. It’s made in Barcelona by Delicious & Sons, but packed and shipped from Poughkeepsie (more about that and them at a later date). It was well named as it was delicious – a good tomato taste and a nice bite of olive here and there (and once I recycled the jar, no one would know it wasn’t homemade)! All the ingredients are organic and there’s nothing your nonna wouldn’t use. My thanks to Ricky for that and an assortment of other goodies I haven’t had time to enjoy!
Back to the shells. I didn’t have quite a pound of spinach, but I did have a lot of ricotta.
Even with that, I had a ton more shells than stuffing. They’re now in a bag in the freezer, waiting for another batch of stuffing.
One of the Accidental Locavore’s big issues with granola is that it’s very hard to find any without nuts.
I started making my own because it’s easy and you control exactly what goes into it.
Everything you like – nothing you don’t.
This has some riffs from the original recipe, and they’re both good, depending on your mood. You may have to do some online shopping and find space in your fridge for your purchases, but it will be worth it.
Makes about 3 cups:
Crunchy Caramel Granola
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup corn flakes
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, or coconut chips
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons Cara-Sel caramel sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter
- Dried fruit, such as apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries and additional coconut
Preheat the oven to 300°.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pine nuts.
In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the caramel and maple syrup. Pour the mixture over the oat mix and toss well to combine.
Spread evenly on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to keep it browning evenly.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Add your choice of dried fruit, chopped, and coconut to taste and mix well.
Store in an airtight canister or a Ziploc bag. Serve straight-up or over your favorite yogurt and enjoy!
My verdict: This new version with the caramel sauce is really good! If you remember Cracker Jack, it’s like a breakfast version of that!
I’ve been adding a cup of corn flakes since I saw it in someone else’s granola recipe. It adds a different sort of crunch. If you don’t want the corn flakes, just use 3 cups of oats instead.
My choice of maple syrup for this (and everything with maple syrup) is Crown Maple’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. It’s dark and flavorful with a nice smoky hint from the bourbon barrels.
Interestingly, the quality of the butter really makes a difference! It went from being really good to great when I switched to Plugra butter.
What do you like in your granola?
Egg-Lemon Soup is my go-to soup when I’m not feeling well.
To me, it’s more interesting than most chicken noodle soups and if you’re making your own, much quicker.
Egg-lemon soup also has the advantage that you know exactly what’s in it (all five ingredients), unlike canned soups.
So, I pull out that classic from the 1980’s The Silver Palate Cookbook (still available if you never got a copy) and have soup in 30 minutes. Makes 6 cups.
Greek Egg-Lemon Soup:
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup long grain rice
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup lemon juice or more to taste
- salt and white pepper to taste
Pour the broth into a pot, and bring it to a boil.
Add the rice, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 25 minutes until the rice is just tender.
While the rice is cooking, whisk the egg yolks and the lemon juice together in a small bowl until well combined.
When the rice is done, remove soup from the heat, and slowly ladle 2 cups of hot broth into the lemon/egg mixture. Whisk to combine, and pour back into the pot. Stir.
Return the soup to medium heat, and cook until soup is just steaming. Do not let it reach a boil. Season to taste. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: As I said in the intro, it’s my go-to when I’m sick. You’ve usually got all the ingredients on hand, it’s easy and tastes great!
I often leave the pepper out, but if you’re going to use it, try to use white pepper, it just looks better.
Some chicken diced up would add protein and you often see this made with little lamb meatballs, but that’s beyond my pay-grade when I’m sick.
And if this doesn’t work, there’s always albondigas.
What’s your go-to cold remedy?
Sour cream coffee cake is definitely a throwback to another era.
It’s comfort food and seems to be making a comeback.
For whatever reason, it’s been on the Accidental Locavore’s radar for a while now.
But there were all those apple cakes.
And then, today, it seemed like the right time.
Months ago, I found the recipe my friend Alan’s mom gave me way back when.
She made the best coffee cake and she finally gave me the recipe (after I swore that the little cactus I gave Alan was in fact a cactus and not a marijuana plant).
This is easy and quick to put together and will always make you feel better.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe:
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup butter (or from the original recipe, margarine)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an angle food pan or 9×9” baking dish.
Cream together sugars, butter, salt, eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda until well combined.
Add the sour cream and then the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients and beat at a slow speed until very smooth.
In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts for the toppling.
Spoon half the batter into the pan and sprinkle half the topping evenly over it.
Pour the rest of the batter into the pan and top with the remaining topping.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve and enjoy!
Almost as good as I remembered it! I’d like more topping and more swirl but that’s easily fixed with more sugar and maybe some butter – like a streusel topping. Going back to the apples, they’d make a good topping too (but I’d cut them into smaller cubes).
Since nuts are no longer part of my culinary vocabulary, I used dark brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkled some maple sugar balls on the top.
And if you’re feeling blue about whatever, it’s a great start to the day!
As much as the Accidental Locavore likes Brussels sprouts any way, every now and then, you need to mix it up, dress them up.
Cheese is always good.
Brussels Sprouts Gratin
For the Mornay sauce:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups whole milk (warmed)
- Salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese (2 ounces)
For the Brussels sprouts:
- 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
For assembling the gratin:
- 2/3 cup finely grated aged Gouda (2 ounces)
- Smoked flaked sea salt, such as Maldon or regular sea salt
Preheat oven to 375°.
Make the sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture bubbles slightly but has not started to brown, about 2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in milk. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking often.
Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted.
Blanch the brussels sprouts: Place in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of water and cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes until just tender.
Assemble the gratin: In a lightly greased gratin pan, add the Brussels sprouts.
Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and sprinkle with cheese and a pinch of smoked sea salt.
Bake until bubbling and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This is a great dish for those who may be on the fence about Brussels sprouts. Like bacon, cheese makes everything good.
Hmmm…speaking of bacon, a little cooked and crumbled would probably go really well in this.
We really liked this. It’s a great side dish to something simple like a steak. You can easily substitute almost any cheese for the smoked Gouda, or even a combination, if you’ve got stray scraps in the fridge.
Topping it with Parmesan and/or breadcrumbs would also be delicious. Just think of it as a Brussels sprouts version of mac & cheese (and it will seem almost healthy).
Spinach is one of those vegetables that is hard to mess up.
A little fat (butter or duck) or olive oil and it’s a success.
However, there are times when you want it to be a little more…interesting.
The Accidental Locavore was making some Spare Ribs Vindaloo (recipe soon) and wanted an Indian spin on spinach that didn’t require running out for ingredients (I’m looking at you saag paneer).
I pulled out my favorite Indian cookbook Made in India and found this recipe for spinach. Serves 4.
Spinach with Garlic and Lemon Juice Recipe:
- 1 pound spinach
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 fresh red chili, very thinly sliced (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Juice of about ½ lemon (to taste)
Wash the spinach and set aside.
In a very large frying pan, over medium heat, add the butter. When it starts to melt, add the garlic and red chili.
Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic starts to turn pale gold.
Add the salt and pepper.
Add the spinach in handfuls, toss to coat with butter. As it starts to wilt, add another handful or two until you’ve used it all up.
Squeeze the lemon juice over the spinach and take off the heat. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately and enjoy!
My verdict: Oh yes! Sadly, we only had a 9-ounce bag of spinach so I did half a recipe and wished there was more. Lots more.
This was super simple and I’ll be making it a lot—so good!
There wasn’t too much heat from the chili, a serrano, so we could have used more, but we like heat. If you don’t have serranos or jalapenos lying in wait in the freezer (when you have a mess of chilis, wash them, toss in a Ziploc bag and freeze them—you’ll always have them on hand), a sprinkle of red pepper flakes would probably be fine.
Try it and let me know what you think.
The Accidental Locavore’s mother always insisted on pearl onions for Thanksgiving.
No one really likes pearl onions “straight-up”.
When I found this recipe from Bon Appètit it seemed like a great combination.
Also perfect for Thanksgiving because you don’t need the oven.
Pearl Onions and Brussels Sprouts in Horseradish Cream
- 1 bag frozen pearl onions thawed
- 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half the long way
- 3 tablespoons horseradish (more to taste)
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Cook the Brussels sprouts until just tender either in a microwave for 5 minutes, or boil them in salted water for about 6 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Combine the horseradish, flour and allspice in a small bowl, mix well and whisk in the cream. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the thyme and stir 30 seconds. Add the onions and Brussels sprouts and saute until heated through, about 4 minutes.
Add the horseradish mixture, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream is reduced to a glaze, coating the vegetables, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more horseradish if you like. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This is a tried and true Thanksgiving hit! Even the non-pearl onion and/or Brussels sprouts haters often find themselves surprised by how good this is!
Besides not needing an oven, you can precook the Brussels sprouts and onions and set them aside. Ditto for the horseradish sauce. Then, just finish them before you’re ready to serve (about 5 minutes or until they’re warm).
True confession, much to my friend Zhu Zhu’s disgust, I always buy frozen pearl onions. They’re such a pain to peel and at Thanksgiving the last thing you need is to spend an hour peeling tiny onions. If you want to go the fresh route, blanch them and peel them (you might want to cook them first for a couple of minutes before adding the sprouts to the pan).
What’s a family Thanksgiving food tradition you’d like to change?
Cabbage might not be the first thing you’d think of to pop on the grill.
Cabbage on the grill is great! The Accidental Locavore first heard of it last year at a CSA pick-up.
Grilling makes the cabbage sweet and tender.
And it makes it summery, rather than a sad reminder of St. Patrick’s Day.
This recipe from Serious Eats sends it to Asia with the addition of a Thai-style dressing.
Grilled Cabbage Wedges
- 3 tablespoons fresh juice from 4 to 6 limes, divided
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (more or less to taste)
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
- 1 medium head of green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges with the core left intact
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Combine 2 tablespoons lime juice, all of the fish sauce, sugar, and garlic in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high heat until steaming hot, about 20 seconds. Add chili flakes. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool, then stir in remaining lime juice and herbs. Taste and add pepper flakes and fish sauce as needed. Set aside.
Preheat a gas grill to high with the cover closed for 10 minutes
Place cabbage wedges directly over hot side of grill. Cook, covered, until well charred on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip cabbage, cover, and cook until charred on second side, another 3 minutes. Flip wedges to third side, cover, and cook until well charred, another 3 minutes. Transfer cabbage to cooler side of grill, cover, and continue cooking until mostly tender but still crunchy in center, about 5 minutes longer.
Transfer cabbage to a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with sauce, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Grilled cabbage is really a great thing! This recipe should inspire you to try grilling wedges and dressing them with the classic wedge salad dressings like blue cheese and bacon, or turning it into grilled coleslaw (note to self…).
As with anything containing fish sauce, go easy at first, you can always add more later.
If you’re apartment bound, a grill pan on high heat will work fine, just turn it down to medium heat once the cabbage is charred. And if you’re like my brother and a charcoal purist, that works as well as gas (probably better).
It’s become our go-to gazpacho, it’s so good!
After the Accidental Locavore read the description of this gazpacho in the NY Times and remembered how good it was when Chef Jose Garces made it at his house a couple of years ago, I needed to give it a try.Use the best tomatoes and olive oil you can.Best Gazpacho recipe:
- 2 pounds of red tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
- 1 Italian or Anaheim pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
- 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 small onion, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- Part of a Serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced (optional, if you like a little heat)
- 2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
- ¼ cup good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Blend at high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
With the motor running, add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt, taste and add the Serrano chile if you’re using.
The next part you might want to do in batches unless you have a big blender.
Very slowly pour in the olive oil, so the gazpacho can emulsify. It will thicken and change color, becoming more orange.
If it seems thin, keep slowly pouring in the olive oil and it will thicken up. Taste and adjust the vinegar, salt and oil as needed.
Strain and discard the solids.
Pour into a pitcher and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve in glasses with a drizzle of olive oil on the top and enjoy!
My verdict: Fabulous! It took a few minutes, but the color did change and the texture and taste was perfect. You really need a blender for this – sadly, a food processor won’t give you a fine enough puree.
I didn’t have the right kind of peppers, so I seeded and chopped a couple of pepperoncini, and they worked fine.
My friend Jean is working for a local olive oil importer and for the oil I used their Delavignes Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which has a lovely buttery flavor. Since you really taste the oil, be sure to use something delicious. If you wanted, a shot of vodka might be interesting.
The original recipe suggests pouring the gazpacho over ice, which I think is a good idea; even though ours had chilled all afternoon, it never tasted really cold.