Tag Archives: easy sides

Garlicky Soy Honey Green Beans


One of the most popular requests I receive is for inspired side vegetable dishes.  Something easy, something delicious, something that (hopefully) everyone at the dinner table will eat.


Green beans are one of those vegetables that pretty much everyone likes.  You hear complaints about broccoli or eggplant or spinach, but green beans are quite well-loved, or at least pretty inoffensive.


This recipe takes this ho-hum vegetable and with a new preparation technique and just a handful of ingredients, transforms it into something altogether different than what you’ve likely encountered before.  It’s inspired by green beans I’ve eaten at Chinese restaurants.


Plus it doesn’t involve the oven or even steaming (a bonus for these summer months).  Sauté the green beans until they’ve blacked a bit, then add soy, honey and garlic and you’ve got yourself some mean beans.


And with this post, I’m going to say so long for a few months.  As I type, our London house is being packed up and on July 4th we fly back to the States (oh, the irony!).  We’ll be vagabonds for the summer traveling through California and the midwest, until we settle in Boston at the end of August, hopefully timing our arrival with that of our household goods from London.  I’ll be back with more recipes probably in September, once my Boston kitchen is up and running.  Enjoy the summer and happy cooking (and eating).  xo

1 year ago:  Salmon Salad with Dill and Capers

Garlicky Soy Honey Green Beans (serves 4 as a side dish)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces (340 grams) green beans, trimmed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon honey

In a medium sauté pan heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.  When the butter is melted, add the green beans and salt.  Cook, stirring the beans occasionally, until most are well-browned, shrunken and tender, 8-10 minutes.  (The butter in the pan will have turned dark brown.  If beans aren’t browned at 8 minutes, turn up heat a bit.)  While the beans are cooking combine the soy sauce and water in a small bowl.

Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the garlic is softened and fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Carefully add the soy and water mixture then the honey.  Cook, stirring, until the liquid reduces to a glaze that coats the beans, about 1 minute.

Transfer the beans to a serving dish, scraping the pan with the spatula to get all of the garlicky sauce, and serve.

Adapted from finecooking.com



Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Lemony Parmesan Roasted Broccoli


For a long time I didn’t care for broccoli as it brought back memories of green mush smothered in saucy orange cheese.  The green mush wouldn’t have been so bad had it not involved the cheese.  I think everyone should be allowed at least one “get out of jail” card for that food which they absolutely detest and can’t stand the sight or smell.  My card would be used for processed (American) cheese.  I’ll eat marrow, kidneys, any vegetable, any fruit, pretty much anything but that gooey gloppy stuff.  That may have been the bigger issue, but I still was not a fan of the broccoli.

Then I discovered roasting, and learned the easy secret to no more mushy broccoli.  Roasting renders the broccoli tender plus makes it crispy and brown.  Toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and you’ve got yourself a side.  Which I made for years.  But then I discovered this Barefoot Contessa recipe which combines some of my other favorite foods – garlic, lemon, pine nuts and parmesan.  The flavors are strong and make this easy weeknight side a big hit in my house.  Now there is no excuse not to eat your green vegetables!

Lemony Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (makes 4 servings)

Note:  Toss it with pasta and add a bit more olive oil for a yummy main dish.  That’s what I do with any leftovers for next day’s lunch.

1 medium head broccoli (about 1 lb or 0.5 kg)

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup (about 25 grams) grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425º F (220º C).   Trim off the bottom 1-2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) of the broccoli stalk.  Cut the florets into bite-size pieces.  Cut the stalks into 1/2 inch-thick (1 cm) rounds.  Place the broccoli in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (you may need to separate between two sheets, depending on size).  Toss with the garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 15-20 minutes until crisp-tender and tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and toss with the lemon zest, lemon juice and parmesan.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics


Filed under Side Dishes

Top 10 Pantry Staples / Pea and Feta Orzo

pantry (2)It’s time for a Top 10 List.  Individual tastes aside; I’m going to share with you my personal top 10 pantry staples.  Those go-to ingredients that are always readily on hand so that, even without a special trip to the grocery store, you can cook from scratch and avoid desperate dialing for carry-out (or take-away, as they call it on this side of the pond).  My list doesn’t include basic basics like milk, salt, pepper, flour, sugar and butter.  It violates some code not to always have those on-hand.  So without further ado (drumroll, please), here are my top 10 pantry staples, in no particular order:


Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar (or another wine-based vinegar)



Frozen peas


Feta cheese


Frozen chicken breasts

My #11 and #12 (b/c it’s so hard to narrow it down!) – capers and bacon

Keep these ingredients on-hand and there’s a multitude of simple dinners you can whip up on a whim.  I’ve included the recipe for my most favorite, Pea and Feta Orzo.  Just a few basic ingredients, but oh so good!  It makes a great side dish to accompany chicken, meat or fish but also stands on its own as a main.  Some other pantry meal ideas are:  (1) frittata with potatoes, peas and feta cheese, (2) pasta with lemony chicken, (3) spaghetti carbonara, and (4) chicken with lemon and capers with a side of roasted potatoes.

Pea & Feta Orzo (2)

What are your top 10??

Pea and Feta Orzo (serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side)

1 1/2 cups (270 g) orzo pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup (120 g) frozen peas, slightly thawed

½ cup (50 g) feta cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper

Fill a medium saucepan approximately 2/3 full with water.  Place over high heat.  Once water is boiling add the orzo and cook until tender, approximately 8 minutes.  Drain orzo and place in a medium bowl.

Add olive oil to the orzo and stir.  Stir in the peas.  Let sit until pasta has cooled down a bit and peas are mostly thawed, about 5 minutes.    Stir in feta and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add additional olive oil if orzo is sticking/clumping.  Best served at room temperature.  Use leftovers for school lunch the following day.


Filed under Main dishes, Salad, Side Dishes