Category: Sides

Bacon, Chicken and Avocado Salad

Lauren Seaver had us with the first three ingredients in her salad: bacon, chicken and avocado. What is there not to love? This combination is not new to most of you, in fact, you might even throw it into salads all the time. But if it’s been awhile, let us remind you how insanely delicious this simple combination is.

Crispy, salty bacon is a perfect topping for cool, creamy avocado and the chicken thighs seared in bacon fat take on a deep, rich flavor that chicken doesn’t always have. It’s a comforting and satisfying combination, familiar ingredients that each take on a new dimension of flavor when paired with the others. You can toss this salad with any green you like, but there is something especially tasty about the combination of crisp romaine lettuce with bacon. While not a “dark, leafy” green, romaine still packs a nice nutritional punch and pretty much everyone loves the mild flavor, which makes it a good choice if you’re serving this salad to others (like picky family members).

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Thai-Inspired Salad of Awesome

Thai cuisine is known for harmonizing sweet, sour, pungent, salty and spicy flavors into dishes that burst with flavor. Unfortunately, many of the dishes on Thai restaurant menus in the U.S. are weighed down with vegetable oils and sugar, and served with heavy portions of rice and noodles. While we can’t promise that Tara Gravenstine’s “Thai-Inspired Salad of Awesome” (submitted for the Reader-Created Cookbook Contest) will demolish any last hankerings you have for Pad Thai, we can say that it will satisfy cravings for the complex flavors that make Thai food so addictive.

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Baba Ghanoush with Squash Chips

Confession: The squash chips failed miserably. Or rather, I failed miserably at the squash chips. I gave it the old college try after reading about Diana’s new love affair, but to no avail. I used a conventional oven to try and “bake” the squash slices, but the chips barely resembled something edible at the end, let alone a chip. They burned easily the first several trials, and instead of crunchy they came out oily, wilted and too-salty. Nothing I would eat if it was served up to me alongside a bowl of baba ganoush!

The baba ghanoush on the other hand was delicious.

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Root Vegetable Hash

Breakfast hash is traditionally a dish that’s meant to use up leftovers from the night before. The thing is, hash is so good that’s it’s a shame to only make it when you happen to have leftover meat lying around. Personally, I’ve been known to set pot roast or pork loin aside at dinner to insure that I have leftovers for hash the next morning.

The greatest thing about hash is that it’s supposed to be thrown together, not made according to a strict recipe. Almost any combination of meat, eggs and root vegetables qualifies as hash. As far as root vegetables go, potatoes have long dominated the breakfast scene, which is a shame. Turnips, rutabagas, parsnips and even beets are all root vegetables worthy of taking a potato’s place. You can use any one of these root vegetables, or all of them at once, to make hash with extra flavor, color and nutrients.

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Halibut, Snapper and Shrimp Ceviche

Summer might be just about over, but last night in my kitchen it certainly didn’t seem like it. This had nothing to do with the weather, which was a bit cool, and everything to do with the refreshing, lively flavors in a bowl of colorful ceviche.

There is no better way to highlight the flavor of seafood, and to remember the feeling of summer, than with this chilled dish. To make ceviche, raw seafood is “cooked” in a lemon-lime marinade and tossed with spicy jalapeno, cooling avocado and the flavorful crunch of red pepper and red onion. Some versions add tomato or other vegetables and some play around with citrus marinades made from grapefruit or oranges, but the result is essentially the same: incredibly fresh seafood with a slightly tart and totally addictive flavor.

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Coconut Shrimp and Chive Mayonnaise

Appetizers are one of the great pleasures in life that can quickly get out of hand. Noshing before a meal is a relaxing social ritual, but it’s also a true test of self-control. It’s entirely too easy to pop an entire meal’s worth of finger food in your mouth before the main meal is even on the table.

A wise solution to this dilemma is to follow the advice that mothers everywhere preach to their children: moderation in all things. Or, (no offense to Mom) you can deal with your cravings for finger food a little more creatively. Why not turn finger food into an entire meal?

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