Side-dish

Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger

Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger

Back in the day when I first discovered sushi (that epicurean wonder of the world), you would find me (feeling very internationally cultured), piling a mountain of pickled ginger (aka: gari) up all over my (fancy and adventurous) California roll; dipping it into a pool of soy sauce (carefully combined with a dab of that pale green wasabi paste…no lumps allowed!!), and then shoving the whole thing ever so delicately into my face. Mmmphhfffffffp.

Hopefully I have learned a few things about proper sushi etiquette since then and one of my most obvious faux pas of the past (you already know … I know you do) was the fact that I was seriously abusing the gari! Like…wait, this is meant to be a palate cleanser? As in, between bites of sushi…not ON TOP of? Seriously?

Dang. I sure don’t want to offend anyone (or embarrass myself for that matter) but I really do like that stuff. Now that I know better I can’t bring myself to treat it like it’s ketchup – at least not in public. Doesn’t mean I don’t still want to.

So…If your favorite thing about going out for sushi is nibbling on that crazy, pungency packing pickled ginger that comes in a pretty pink pile on the plate, then this clean and crunchy mix of taste-bud tingling happiness is for you.

Raw and Ready Chopped Salad

Raw and Ready CHopped Salad

Seems kind of redundant to include the word raw in the name of a salad. I mean, isn’t the definition of a salad, you know….lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, dressing, what-have-you…a culinary state of perpetual raw-ness?

As in: uncooked…..au naturel…..untouched by any source of heat………?

Ha! Sure, Bunny. You know as well as I do that any sort of salad is a good one (the notable exception being anything congealed together by Jello, yuk) but really, what defines a salad? Is it just any old conglomeration of random ingredients that aren’t called soup or dessert or a casserole; like this (Spicy Steak Salad with quinoa and black beans), or this (Roasted Broccoli and white bean salad)? Does it count as salad if it’s mostly cooked?

Marinated Mushroom Veggie Salad

Marinated Mushroom veggie Salad

I don’t know about you, but I can almost actually feel my vitamin D levels going up….just by looking at this bright and beautiful bowl of bodily benevolent bounty.

Earthy mushrooms, juicy grape tomatoes, sweet red bell pepper and crunchy cubed zucchini come together in raw and ready solidarity, held up (and held together) by a gutsy, garlicky, feta-cheese-a-fied marinade/dressing.

No sissy pants of a side dish; this bodacious babe brings the goods when it comes to a super delicious, sinfully simple salad.

Roasted Cauliflower with Browned Butter Pepitas and Lime

Roasted Cauliflower with Browned Butter Pepitas and Lime

The election is /// finally /// over. And call it my civic duty….. but it seems like the perfect time to talk about something I think we ALL can agree on.

Cauliflower.

Yes, cauliflower.

The “Miss Congeniality” of the cruciferous crowd of vegetables that includes brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, cauliflower just likes to get along. Cauliflower is gentle, unlike her more sulfurous side-kicks. Cauliflower doesn’t need to show off, or overpower anything, or criminally corrupt a dish with any egomaniacal essences.

Cauliflower just makes everyone around her better! And that includes you. Because cauliflower:

Brussels Sprouts Chips

Brussels Sprouts Chips

Oh kale, you know I think the world of you. A gold medalist in the world of crucifers, you are rich in those compounds that help reduce cholesterol, curb inflammation and prevent cancer. You are the mainstay of my most favorite salad in the entire world, you elevate my smoothie into the nutritional stratosphere, and you really, really just make me feel good about myself whenever I am with you.

However.

When it comes to being lovingly smeared with olive oil and crisped to snack worthy perfection in the oven…there’s a new sheriff in town. Kale chips? Yes, you are good but I’ve found something even better.

Cheesy Cauliflower with Bacon Crunchies

Cheesy Cauliflower with Bacon Crunchies

This is a re-post of a recipe originally dated November 2015

Oh, I’ve been so bad.

I deliberately and willfully took an angelic head of cauliflower, the essence of purity with its gentle flavor, impressive nutritive value and soothing color…….and I went and did………this.

All wrapped up in a decadent cloak of dreamy cheesy-ness, topped with a smoky smattering of porky crispy-ness (NO soggy bacon here), this creamy cauliflower up-do had me at: Hello – oh no.

Roasted Mushroom and Spinach Casserole

Roasted Mushroom and Spinach "pie"Poor little mushrooms. Somewhat underrated (what, a rubbery fungus?) and most often times an afterthought (I’ll take a large with pepperoni, sausage, peppers, olives….and, oh yeah, mushrooms) or delegated to the appetizer section of the menu (where they will be either stuffed or fried, let’s face it) mushrooms are really a versatile if not under-appreciated gem of an ingredient!

Thanks to the influence of my favorite fan of all things schroomie (hi, Michelle!), I took a look into the benefits of adding more of these guys into the diet….and I found that mushrooms contain just as much of an antioxidant capacity as tomatoes, pumpkins, green beans or zucchini! Surprise! Plus they are a great source of selenium, a mineral you don’t generally find in most fruits and veggies. Then there is the vitamin D and folate …. good news for any fungi fanatic, because lotsa people do not get enough of either. Consuming mushrooms can help with immunity, heart health, and even play an important role in DNA repair.

I don’t know about you……but I could definitely use some of THAT. eeek

SO eat your veggies….and your fungus. This creamy, cheesy, comforting casserole (yeh, I’m bringing the casserole back…don’t even try to stop me) will make it easy.

Tomato gratin with fresh basil

Tomatoes are such a gift to the home gardener. Take a trip to your local nursery, buy a couple of plants, dig a couple of holes, pop ’em in and water regularly. Soon enough they’ll be growing so tall that you have to cage ’em up just to keep them off the ground. You are giddy when you discover your first tomato baby, just a wee nubbin, forming at the tip of one of those yellow flowers. You go out and look at it EVERY – SINGLE – DAY. You wait as patiently as you can, until that little baby grows bigger and it’s color turns from green to pinkish to ruby red……and the happy day comes when you get to pick it off the vine and shove it in your mouth and savor every minute of this amazing wonder of nature like it’s the first and last tomato you have ever had in your whole life and it is sooooo delicious that you…

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