Archive for the ‘Side’ Category

French Lentil Salad

I’m not sure I have a whimsical anecdote to go along with this post, but lets see what I can manage…

I’m tired in the evenings when we get home from the gym, and if Jake isn’t around to wrangle Gemma while I cook something up, my dinnertime ends up being somewhere around 9:30pm.  That’s usually about the time I decide that a bowl of cheese puffs and a big glass of wine will do because who the hell wants to cook right before they go to bed??  Not me.  It has been getting warmer here in the ABQ, which makes cooking even less palatable.  (Jake made a pizza on Monday night and having the oven on made me feel like I was back in my Bikram Yoga days.  Seriously.  Sweating.  To.  Death.)  I’ve been playing around with different kinds of cold salads that I can prepare earlier in the day (hopefully during a 3 hour nap) and have waiting for me in the fridge after the gym and after I’ve gotten my Schizophrenic Toddler Terrorist down for the night.  This is one of those salads.

French Lentil Salad

Adapted from French Vegetarian Cooking:  A Step By Step Guide


*1 1/2 cups Le Puy lentils (you can always use another brown or green lentil, but the Le Puy have a great flavor!)

*2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed (still essentially whole)

*Champagne Vinaigrette (Combine 1 heaping tbsp of mustard with about 3 tbsp champagne vinegar.  Stream 1/4 of olive oil into the mixture while whisking steadily.  Salt and pepper to taste.)

*Several sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, minced

To Make:

*Simmer the lentils and the garlic cloves in a large, uncovered pot of water for 25-35 minutes (until the lentils are tender).

*Remove the garlic cloves after about 15 minutes.

*Prepare the Champagne Vinaigrette in a large serving bowl.

*Add the parsley to the vinaigrette.

*When the lentils are ready, drain off the liquid and add them to the vinaigrette.

*Gently incorporate the lentils with the vinaigrette and parsley and adjust seasonings to your taste.

*Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Survey Says:

This is incredibly easy and incredibly good!  Gemma ate it for dinner last night with her beloved tomatoes (the dish pictured above is hers) and loved it.  Just give it a try.  You’ll like it.  I promise.  There’s something about the vinaigrette with the lentils that is just so perfect!  It’s definitely hearty enough to stand on its own as the main part of your meal, but could also be a great side!


Cousin Melissa’s Ceci Mash

As you all may have guessed by now, I am a fiend for just about anything in the legume family.  They are not only nutritious, but delicious and versatile at the same time!  I do suspect, however, that I have been neglecting the lovely chickpea (or ceci in Italian) in favor of cannellini beans for a while because I’m just not always sure what to do with them outside of creating hummus (& because of Sahara Restaurant down the street I do not make my own hummus).  A few years ago the women in our family went on a weekend getaway to Reno, NV.  One thing that I could never get out of my mind from that weekend was my cousin Melissa telling me of a dish that a catering company that she once worked for used to make.  She called it Ceci Mash.  We parted ways, her back to Oregon, me back to New Mexico, and I had totally forgotten to ask her for the recipe! 

Fast forward 2 1/2 years to this past Easter that we all spent gathered in my Grandmother’s house the day after her memorial service.  Melissa and (her then fiancé, now husband) Seth made a fantastic Italian spread for Easter dinner.  One of the dishes was the Ceci Mash that I had never had the opportunity to taste, and I was hooked!  I took all of the leftovers back to our hotel room and I ate it before bed and for breakfast in the morning.  Yep.  It was that good.  In the chaos of Gemma wrangling and visiting with family I had forgotten to ask her for the recipe!  So the day after Melissa and Seth’s wedding just less than two weeks ago there was a brunch and I sidled up to her and asked her for the key to the magic mash.  She kindly gave it to me!

She said that a key ingredient is a lemon-infused olive oil called Agrumato .  I don’t have this and I really could not justify spending $20+ on a bottle even if I could find one right now, so I used lemon juice and olive oil.  It worked out just fine, but if I ever do get my hands on a bottle of the good stuff I will let you know how it is!

Cousin Melissa’s Ceci Mash

adapted from a recipe from Cousin Melissa’s catering days that she recounted to me at brunch the day after her wedding where we both had probably had a few glasses of champagne!


*2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

*1 1/3 cups vegetable broth

*Juice of ½ lemon

*2 tbsp olive oil

*2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley –optional (or other herb of your choice)

*Freshly grated parmesan cheese

To Make:

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

*Place chickpeas and broth in a saucepan and cook until liquid has reduced almost entirely. (this took about 15-20 minutes for me)

*Transfer chickpeas into a bowl or small baking dish (I use this one) and mash (using either an immersion blender or a potato masher) to your desired consistency (just keep in mind as you’re preparing this that the final texture that you’re going for is more mashed potatoes and less hummus).

*Stir in lemon juice and olive oil and incorporate completely.

* Incorporate herbs now if you’re using them.

*Transfer mixture to baking dish and top with enough parmesan cheese to cover.

*Bake for 10 minutes and serve!

Survey Says:

WOW!  I mean I knew this dish was a winner from when Melissa made it for Easter dinner, but I had doubts about my ability to recreate it after just hearing it once.  Well, dear readers, I did it!  Jake and I really enjoyed this and paired it with an arugula salad dressed simply with lemon juice and some olive oil, but I could see roasted or grilled veggies also being a great complement!  It is very filling and so nutritious at the same time.  I dare you to serve it in place of mashed potatoes (probably not at Thanksgiving, though) and see what everyone thinks!!

Roasted Curried Cauliflower (+Cilantro Rice)

Although it feels like Spring is just about upon us here in the ABQ, the evenings still get a bit cool and breezy.  I have been looking for a hearty cauliflower recipe that didn’t involve milk and cheese (I have a great cauliflower gratin recipe!), and my Twitter BFF Liz (from North Shore Mommy) just so happened to be making one and she was kind enough to pass it on to me.  Cauliflower, curry, chili flakes, and very little oil…how could this be bad??  I decided to pair it with the Cilantro (Lime) Rice from last week (without the lime), but I think that it would be good with couscous or quinoa too…I really do need to start branching out on my grains!

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

from Vegenista (via Liz at North Shore Mommy)


*2-4 tbsp olive oil (depending on your tastes as well as the size of the cauliflower)

*2 garlic cloves, grated or minced

*2 tsp. curry powder

*1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)

*Pinch of sea salt & pepper

*1 head (about 3 cups) cauliflower, cut into florets

To Make:

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

*In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, garlic, curry, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.

*Add the cauliflower & toss until well coated.

*Pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish & bake until tender (about 25 to 30 minutes)

Survey Says:

DELICIOUS!!!  The flavor of the cauliflower was perfect and the curry powder turns it the most beautiful yellow color!  My only issue with it was that our cauliflower was too small and we were still craving more after it was done!  I think that we’ll make a double batch next time.  If any of the spices seems like too much for you, by all means adjust the flavors for your tastes.  They all compliment one another really well and I’m sure that minor adjustments won’t really affect the overall effect.  Make this before Spring hits its stride.  As for the rice…I did exactly what I did the last time I made it, and it came out crunchy.  I told you guys that I had bad luck with rice!  The flavor of the rice, however, was quite good with just the cilantro and an extra tsp. of olive oil to account for the lack of lime juice.

Fried Smashed Potatoes

Confession:  I am madly and sickly in love with two things.  Television and potatoes.  I told my husband before we got married that if I could marry television, I would…but I can’t…so I married him.  Sounds terrible, but he’s been pretty OK with it for well over 8 years (4 1/2 of them as husband and wife)!  I have not, however, officially professed my love for potatoes to him in the same way (although after so many years, I’m pretty sure that he suspects).  Potatoes are one of the most perfect foods that exist.  That is not to say that my husband is not a very impressive specimen…but I digress…POTATOES…yes, potatoes.  And while we’re on the subject of potatoes…can I please very emphatically ask “what the hell Giada thinks she’s doing touting the virtues of ‘Fried Smashed Potatoes with Lemons (read: lemon vinaigrette) to us, the masses, who cannot look at, let alone consume food bathed in oil without making up for it with days of starvation and gym visits”??


That felt good.

So as you may have guessed, this recipe comes from the ever-lovely Giada DeLaurentiis.  I made the executive decision to omit the lemon vinaigrette that she whipped up to accompany these “pommes de terre” because I just didn’t think that it was necessary.  I will most likely add it sometime in the future, but I really didn’t feel like the Roasted Brussels Sprouts needed vinaigrette, so I settled on a good Parmesan for both.


*1 1/2-2 pounds baby or fingerling potatoes (I used some really tiny red ones that weren’t quite fingerlings)

*1/4 cup (or so olive oil)

*3 cloves of garlic (peeled and halved)


To make:

*Boil potatoes until tender (about 20-25 minutes)

*Drain the potatoes and let dry for 5-10 minutes.

*Once dry, gently press the potatoes with the palm of your hand until barely smashed.

*Heat the 1/4 of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned.  Remove the garlic and discard.

*Add the potatoes and cook until the bottoms turn golden brown…about 5-8 minutes.  (You will have to do this in batches)

*Turn potatoes carefully and brown the other side for another 5-8 minutes.


Survey says:

These were good.  I think that I probably could have been more patient with letting them fry and get a better crust on them, but it was 9 pm on Sunday night and we were starving!  These potatoes paired really nicely with the Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  I will definitely be making these again.  I will be more patient.  I might even try them with Giada’s Lemon Vinaigrette if I’m feeling particularly svelte after 3 1/2 hours at the gym!

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