Tag Archives: side dish

Wild Mushroom Wild Rice with Caramelized Onions


Wild Mushroom Wild Rice | Spoonwithme.com-19

Rice, gone wild!  Double wild!  Mushroom madness!  All this Thanksgiving recipe testing and eating has put me into a food-induced euphoria.  Wild two times in one title is two too many wilds for one recipe, young lady!  Bring your torches.  Ban.  This.  Site.  Hide your childrens’ eyes!  With all this fungus among-us, it’s gettin’ crazy up in here.

Wild Mushroom Wild Rice | Spoonwithme.com-25Wild Mushroom Wild Rice | Spoonwithme.com-48

I bought a gigantic bag of assorted dried local Colorado mushrooms at the farmers market this summer.  We’re talking two freezer bags worth.  There will not be a mushroom shortage for the foreseeable future in the Spoon With Me house, in case anybody was wondering. What does one do with so many dried mushrooms, you ask?  You know that mouth-coating savory depth that can be hard to achieve in plant-based recipes?  Think of them as a way to boost the umami factor, especially in vegetarian and vegan dishes.  I love to grind them into powder to add savoriness to sauces gravies, and soups.  In this recipe, I used the broth from rehydrating them as part of the cooking liquid for the rice. If you’re a full or part- time vegan or vegetarian, you need dried mushrooms in your arsenal if you want to up the ooooh mommy!

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Tangerine-Port Cranberry Sauce


We all have our food quirks.  The Mister likes to figure out the best flavor combination on any given plate, then repeat that experience as many times as possible.  Salads are evenly tossed and big ingredients chopped up so that each bite has the optimized flavor.


I once ate dinner with a girl who had a phobia of her foods touching each other.  We were at an Asian restaurant.  Plain shrimp, plain vegetables, plain rice.  No sauce, not even soy.  Each part of the meal was eaten by itself, before moving on   I kind of wanted to put a carrot slice on her rice, just to see what would happen, but I figured that was a bit immature.  Phobias ain’t no joke.  I’m the mixing queen.  I like to see how many unique combinations of flavors I can put into each bite.



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Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Spiced Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Butternuts with Caramelized Pepitas

Spiced Glazed Butternuts|Spoonwithme.com-34

The way we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving throughout history has both changed and stayed the same.  What if, instead of the venison and freshly harvested vegetables the Native Americans and the pilgrims shared to celebrate the harvest, this happened:

Once upon a time, back on the first documented Thanksgiving in 1621, the pilgrims that had arrived on the Mayflower shared a feast with the local Native Americans.  

“Thank you for welcoming us to this bounteous land.  I offer unto you this can of cream of mushroom soup as a gesture of peace.  Please prepare it with your freshly harvested green beans and crispy fried onions.”

 “Why thank you, kind pilgrim.  Please, take this gift of congealed cranberries as a symbol of this shared celebration.  And as an extra special bonus offering, this bowl of mashed potatoes, from a tuber that will not actually make its way to ‘America’ until many years from now.”

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“Fainting Imam” Turkish Braised Eggplant with Aromatic Yellow Rice (gf, vegan)

Turkish Braised Eggplant4|SpoonWithMe(1 of 1)When you think about swoon-worthy dishes, what comes to mind?  In Julie and Julia, it was the crunch of the olive oil-toasted bruschetta bread covered with juicy tomatoes.  Remy the rat has his first food-wakening when his foraged fromage, wild mushroom and herbs get flambeed by a bolt of lightning in Ratatouille.  In Chocolat, the swoon subject is obvious—No, not Johnny Depp, the chocolate for heavens sake!  My favorite food scene comes at the end of Big Night, where the restaurant guests bite into the Timpano.  And if you’ve ever seen Chef, I just have three words for you: Grilled.  Cheese.  Sandwich.

Fainting Imam|SpoonWithMe.com (1 of 1)

My friend Karissa and I enjoyed a swoon-inducing eggplant while eating at a fantastic Turkish restaurant in Houston.  The kind of dish where you revert to some kind of primal foodie language that consists of mmms, sloshy sounding consonants, and repeated “s’really good”.

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Layered Quinoa “Ratatouille”: A Post in Pictures

Just a short, simple post today, as a send-off to my favorite season.   Life’s feels complicated right now, but I can’t help but feel gratitude for the bounty of my garden, and for my girlfriends who wined and dined with me while my other half was in Amsterdam on business for 11 days.  This meal was the perfect celebration of all of the above.  Without further ado…

Quinoa “Ratatouille”

Serves 8-10

Part roasted vegetable lasagna, part ratatouille, this end of summer dish is the perfect way to celebrate your last and best garden picks.  This is slow food–Don’t make it when you’re in a hurry.  Take the time to slow roast the tomatoes, letting them collapse into a complex, jammy sauce.  If you are running short on time, don’t have access to enough fresh tomatoes, or just don’t have enough oven space, follow the recipe for canned tomatoes. The eggplant, red bell peppers, squash and eggplant should be spotted golden on the outside, and will melt with buttery smoothness on the inside.  

For the Vegetables:

2 small eggplants (or 1 medium), cut into 1/4 inch sheets

1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch sheets

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch sheets

2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced into sheets

olive oil

kosher salt

For the Quinoa:

1 1/2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed well and drained

3 cups water (scant)

2 small sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves

1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish (optional)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 recipe Slow-Roasted or Slow-Simmered Tomato Sauce (see below)


1)To ensure good timing, start making the slow-roasted tomato sauce first.

2) Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Place the vegetables in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and toss to coat.  Arrange the sliced red bell pepper, zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant in a single layer on two baking sheets.  Roast in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes.  Check the vegetables sporadically, as some will cook faster than others.  Remove pieces that are softened and specked golden, then allow the remaining vegetables to finish cooking.

  1. Place the washed quinoa and a scant 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Stir the olive oil, herbs, parmesan (if using) and kosher salt into the quinoa.
  3. Reduce the oven heat to 375˚F.  Spread a layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 11’’ casserole dish, followed by a layer of roasted vegetables, then the quinoa mixture.  Repeat in the same order–sauce, vegetables, and ending with quinoa, until all ingredients are used.  Sprinkle the top lightly with parmesan.
  4. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the sauce layers bubble and the top is golden in places.

Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Any type of ripe tomatoes can be used here, although paste tomatoes such as Romas or San Marzanos will yield a thicker sauce.  I prefer to use a mix of paste and slicing tomatoes.  To ease up the oven for roasting vegetables, make this sauce the night before and chill until needed.  

4 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes

6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife

1/2 cup olive oil

kosher salt

1) Preheat the oven to 325˚F.  Halve and core the larger tomatoes and remove most of the seeds.  Arrange the tomatoes face down in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets.  Place three smashed garlic cloves on each pan.  Drizzle each pan with olive oil (1/4 cup for each pan), and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.

2) Roast in the oven for 90 minutes to 2 hours, or until the tomatoes have collapsed, and released much of their liquid into the pan.  Check the tomatoes periodically, and if they begin to cook too quickly, turn the oven heat down.  Smaller tomatoes will take less time to roast.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Pull offthe skins from most of the larger tomatoes.  They should slip off easily.  If not, cook the tomatoes for longer.

3) Smash the tomatoes and garlic cloves with a wooden spoon until you have a semi-smooth sauce that still has some tomato texture.

Slow-Simmered Garlic Tomato Sauce

2 28-ounce cans good quality whole tomatoes

1 small head garlic, cloves peeled and minced

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt to taste

crushed red pepper flakes to taste

small bunch fresh oregano, leaves picked and chopped

Heat a few large glugs of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the garlic and saute, stirring frequently until the garlic is softened and is just barely beginning to turn golden.  Immediately add the canned tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook the sauce at slightly above a simmer for 35-45 minutes, occasionally stirring and crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Once the sauce has thickened and most of the tomatoes have broken down, season to taste with kosher salt, and add the crushed red pepper and fresh oregano.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.


Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes

Springy Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snaps, Mint and Ginger-Yogurt

Things are beginning to look up.  I spent the entire day last Sunday working on the garden; turning the soil, working in compost, and planting my spring seeds while Luca tore around the garden like a little hellion, leaping across raised beds and over tomato cages, jumping through hose water, and finally, lounging in the shade with her tongue hanging out.   I got a bit carried away this year, as I already planted onions, shallots, radishes, spinach, romaine, kale, shelling peas, and sugar snap peas–and that is just the spring crop!  Every year around this time, I feel like the world is waking up again.  We’re peeling off our winter layers, airing out our houses, and getting some much needed sunshine.

Well, here in Colorado, the first blossoms just arrived on the trees, random crocuses and tulips are appearing everywhere, and my chives have returned in full force.  Sugar snaps won’t be ready until May or June, but planting inevitably got me anticipating my spring crops.  When I went grocery shopping later that day, impatience trumped local, seasonal eating (oops).  I couldn’t help but buy a handful of sugar snap peas to hold me over until the time arrives to pick my own.

I welcome the switchover to each season.  At the first hint of spring weather, I immediately crave more delicate, brighter flavored foods as opposed to the heavier fare of winter.  I mean, come on.  Eating a belly-warming vegetable or meat braise when the sun is shining and the trees are blossoming is like wearing a cable knit sweater and mittens on a tropical vacation.  It just doesn’t balance out.

One of my favorite foods in any season is quinoa (think “keen-wa”).  During the summer,  it’s my Southwest Quinoa Salad, laden with peppers, tomatoes, and farmers market corn, tossed with chile-lime vinaigrette.  In this springy version, I toss quinoa with sugar snaps, chopped mint and toasted almonds, and coat with a gingery yogurt dressing.  The flavors are fresh and crisp, slightly sweet, hinted with lemon and laced with ginger and garlic.  The sesame oil is almost imperceptible, except that it adds a rounded depth to the dressing.  This salad makes a great light lunch on its own, or would pair nicely with some grilled salmon.

I can’t wait until I can make this with peas straight from the garden, although I’ll have to have a little self control; most of my sugar snaps never actually make it into the house since I consider them gardening snacks and eat them straight from the vine.  Colorado is always a little late on the warm-weather front.  I’m curious to know what sorts of spring signs are popping up around you…do tell!

 Springy Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snaps, Mint and Ginger-Yogurt

Makes 4 servings

Use this recipe as a starting point, and feel free to improvise additions or substitutions using the vegetables you have available.  I imagine julienned carrot and green onion would be a nice addition to the sugar snaps, and chopped broccoli might be a good substitution.  

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh roughly chopped mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup plain low fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste

1. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa, drain well and place in a small saucepan.  Add a scant two cups of water and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 12 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and a what looks like a white thread spirals around each grain. Transfer to a plate to cool.  If the quinoa appears to be cooked, but there is excess water in the pan, uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook for an additional minute or two, stirring constantly, until the water has evaporated.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sesame oil, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, honey, salt and pepper.

3. Place the cooled quinoa, sugar snap peas, almonds and mint in a medium bowl.  Stir to combine.  Add the yogurt dressing and gently toss to coat.  Garnish with additional almonds and mint if desired.  Serve cold or at room temperature.


Filed under Salads, Side Dishes

Southwest Quinoa Salad with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette



Some recipes are good because you know you shouldn’t eat them very often, which makes them a treat.  Others are good because you can eat them as often as you’d like, with no guilt whatsoever. My food life is filled with foods from category two, and polka-dotted with treats from the first category.  Food should always be a delight, no matter from the first or second category, don’t you agree?

My favorite kind of cooking happens when categories one and two collide.  Making this quinoa salad is an indulgence in itself, and feels more like an art project than a chore.

The art project begins at the garden…or the farmers market…or at your favorite grocery store. Pretend you are reaching into your deluxe box of Crayons, and have fun choosing your colors.  My Crayola box is filled with black bean, limey green, purple power onion, electric habañero orange, and sweet corn yellow.  What about you?

Cooked and cooled quinoa (prounounced “keen-wah”)  is the perfect background to splash colors upon.  Not only does this little seed have a light nutty flavor and crunchy texture, but it is packed with all sorts of things that are good for you, like protein, iron,  and amino acids.  Lets suffice to say that if Popeye the Sailor Man were around today, he’d probably choose quinoa over spinach.

Now, it’s chop-chop time.  Here’s where a sharp knife will be your best buddy.  Layer your colorful veggies over your quinoa, drizzle your chile-lime vinaigrette, toss it all together, and then stand back to look at your work–a piece of (albeit abstract) art.

I’ll bet your mom would display it on her fridge if she could.  I think my mom will eat it instead.

Southwest Quinoa Salad


This is a Summer salad, through and through.  Choose an array of peppers, taking into consideration level of heat, sweetness and color.  I like to keep a big bowl of this salad in the fridge to eat for lunches.  Refresh with a splash of lime and a pinch of salt the day after you make it.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa (any color), cooked and cooled (see instructions below)
  • 1 or 2 avocados, peeled, pit removed, diced
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed
  • kernels from 1 cob corn, or 3/4 cup thawed frozen corn
  • About 1 1/2 cups diced mildly spicy peppers (a mix of bell peppers, anaheim, etc…)
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 small habanero, minced (optional, for heat)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Chile Lime Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3/4 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Quinoa:

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly  in cold water and drain.  Place 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all all of the water has been absorbed.  When fully cooked, the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of each seed (a white circle).

If the water has evaporated, but the germ ring is not yet visible, add a splash of water, and simmer for a few more minutes.  Set aside until cool.

For the Vinaigrette:

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake until combined, or whisk in a small bowl.

For the Salad:

Put all of the salad ingredients into a large bowl.  Drizzle with the vinaigrette, and gently toss to combine.


Filed under Main Dishes, Salads, Side Dishes