Category Archives: Vegetables & Salads

Basic Green Bean Casserole

This is it. The green bean casserole that replaces the icky one made with canned soup. It’s easy. It works for those family gatherings. It goes with *everything*, and it can be made and prepped ahead of time, so all that you need to do is pop it in the oven. We have been making this for the last couple of years, and it is always a hit. Enjoy!

Basic Green Bean Casserole

Adapted from Southern Living, Nov 2008
Serves 10

2 lbs fresh green beans, washed and trimmed (I use haricots verts)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Ivory Wheat Organic Flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 Tbsp ranch dressing mix (store-bought or use this recipe and use 1 Tbsp)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup French fried onions
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1. Cook fresh green beans in boiling, salted water to cover for 4 minutes, drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry. Use immediately or store in a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

2. Make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 3-4 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat, and whisk in buttermilk, ranch mix, and salt & pepper. Sauce can be used immediately or can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Stir together bechamel and green beans. Place mixture into a lightly greased 13×9 or 3 quart baking dish.

4. Combine French fried onions and panko. Sprinkle over green bean mixture.

5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

**Note** The entire casserole (minus the onion/panko topping) can be assembled up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Just add topping before baking.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 111.0
Total Fat: 4.1 g
Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 7.5 mg
Sodium: 264.2 mg
Potassium: 266.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 15.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.1 g
Sugars: 2.7 g
Protein: 4.0 g


Sautéed Salmon and Arugula Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

I *love* this recipe. And each time we make it, I’m stunned that we don’t make it more often! It works year-round – even when tomatoes aren’t in season (sauteeing those grape tomatoes brings out the flavor of even winter greenhouse-grown tomatoes). It also goes well with any wine – white, rose, red – which is a rarity (at least for us!). Enjoy this on its own, or add an additional vegetable, side, or even bread.

Sautéed Salmon and Arugula Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette
Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2010
Serves 4

4 (6-ounce) wild salmon fillets (skin-on, then remove skin after cooking)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
Cooking spray
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (2 cups)
5 cups loosely packed arugula

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fillets evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fillets to pan, flesh-side down; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn fillets over; cook 4 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan; loosely cover, and keep warm.

2. While fish cooks, place vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually add oil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in shallots.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; sauté for 3 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Add tomatoes to vinaigrette; toss to combine.

4. Arrange 1 1/4 cups arugula on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 fillet (remove skin before placing). Spoon about 1/2 cup tomato mixture over each salad.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 276.2
Total Fat: 11.7 g
Saturated Fat: 2.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.4 g
Cholesterol: 127.5 mg
Sodium: 534.0 mg
Potassium: 266.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 5.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
Sugars: 0.5 g
Protein: 35.8 g

Zucchini-Tomato Gratin

Tomatoes! Zucchini! Summer is upon us, and this is one of our new favorite recipes to use the tomatoes and zucchini that are all around us! Enjoy!

Zucchini-Tomato Gratin
Slightly adapted from Vegetarian Times, July 2009
Serves 4

1 ½ lb. tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, seeded
1 ½ lb zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices
2 tsp olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp roughly chopped kalamata olives
¼ cup thinly sliced basil leaves
3/4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1. Drape tomato slices over colander, sprinkle with salt, and let drain 45 minutes.

2. Spread zucchini on baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes to sweat out excess moisture. Rinse well, and pat dry.

3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat 1 tsp. oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté zucchini 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to plate. Do this in 2 batches if necessary.

4. Layer half of zucchini slices in 11×7 inch rectangular baking pan. Top with half of tomatoes. Sprinkle with half of garlic,1 Tbsp olives, half of basil, and 1/2 Parmesan cheese; season with freshly ground black pepper. Repeat with remaining zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, olives, and basil. Drizzle top with 1 tsp oil, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cheese. Cover with foil, and bake 10 minutes. Remove foil, and bake 20 minutes more, or until cheese is melted and gratin is bubbling. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 118.9
Total Fat: 5.2 g
Saturated Fat: 1.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2.8 g
Cholesterol: 3.6 mg
Sodium: 218.0 mg
Potassium: 837.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 16.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.7 g
Sugars: 3.0 g
Protein: 4.8 g

Sauteed Corn and Red Bell Pepper

Now that corn is in season in Texas, it is *everywhere*! So, in order to avoid boredom with grilled corn (our usual manner of cooking corn), I came up with this recipe. I usually have red bell peppers and cilantro on-hand in my fridge, so this came together so easily! Enjoy!

Sauteed Corn and Red Bell Pepper

A Karen original recipe
Serves 2

2 ears of fresh corn
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp sunflower oil
dash of salt
dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

1. Cut corn off the cobs. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add corn and bell pepper, and season with salt & pepper.

2. Cook until corn and pepper is tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Top with cilantro to serve.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 102.8
Total Fat: 3.4 g
Saturated Fat: 0.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 91.5 mg
Potassium: 292.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 18.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.9 g
Sugars: 3.8 g
Protein: 3.1 g

Caprese salad

A simple, yet amazing summer salad.  When tomatoes are amazingly ripe and the basil plant is growing out of control, there’s only one thing to make – caprese salad!  Now that our tomatoes in the garden are finally ready to eat, we’ve started making this regularly again.  This is one of our all-time favorites, and it’s basically a make-as-you-go recipe – use as many tomatoes as you’d like, and go from there!  Enjoy!

Caprese Salad
servings vary (therefore nutritional information will vary)

Ripe tomatoes, sliced into rounds
Fresh basil leaves, torn if large
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Good quality balsamic vinegar
Good quality extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Flaky sea salt

Place sliced tomato rounds onto a serving plate. Top each tomato with a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf. Grind pepper and sprinkle salt evenly over the the tomatoes.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Spiralized Roasted Beets

You know how everyone has hopped on the spiralized vegetable bandwagon? Well, since last year (when I received my spiralizer as a Christmas present), I too have hopped on the bandwagon. Most recipes I see are for “zoodles” (aka zucchini noodles), but I noticed that root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.) would also work well in “spiralized” form. I especially wanted to try beets, since they take SOOO long to roast whole (I usually roast them for 1.5 hours), and sometimes I don’t have enough foresight to have 1.5 hours to make beets as a side vegetable for dinner!

So, when I finally attempted beets using the spiralizer, I found out how quickly and easily I could make roasted beets! Once I put them in the oven, they were ready in about 15 minutes! Such a time-saver! And just as good as beets roasted whole (and more fun to eat, too!). Enjoy!

Spiralized Roasted Beets

A Karen Original Recipe
Servings vary

raw beets, peeled, and spiralized (I usually start with 3-4 large beets)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F.   Cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.

Spiralize peeled beets using a spiralizer set to the thin setting. Place beet spirals in a large bowl. Toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Place tossed beets on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, and spread out. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, until beet spirals are tender. Serve hot.

Elote Corn Bake

In San Antonio, elote corn (roasted corn on the cob, with spices, mayo, and topped with cojita cheese) is one of our favorites at local restaurants. One of our favorites is from a nearby restaurant, Two Step (roasted corn). My good friend introduced me to this easy casserole recipe to serve at parties – it’s all the fun of the elote corn, without having to make individual ears of corn for everyone. It’s a lot of fun, and we will definitely be making this again!


Slightly adapted from “Food in my beard” blog
Serves 12

10 ears of corn
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 Tbsp cilantro chopped
1 can no-salt added diced tomatoes, drained
1 bunch green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1/4 cup light mayo (I used Hellman’s)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 oz crumbled Cojita cheese

1 lime, cut into wedges

Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the cob. Use the back of your knife to scrape extra corn juice from the cob.

Chop the herbs and scallions and and mix all of the ingredients (except cojita cheese and lime) in a large bowl.

Pour into a baking dish, and top with cojita cheese. Bake at 350 for about a half hour until it is bubbling.

Before serving, squeeze lime wedges over the top (or, alternatively, give guests a lime wedge to dress each serving individually).

Nutritional info:
Calories: 106.3
Total Fat: 3.9 g
Saturated Fat: 1.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 5.8 mg
Sodium: 204.1 mg
Potassium: 262.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 17.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.1 g
Sugars: 3.8 g
Protein: 4.1 g

Turnip Greens with Apple Cider Vinegar

This time of year, the farmer’s markets are full of all sorts of greens. A few years ago, I would have never thought I’d eat greens (and like them!). I think this recipe definitely played a role in turning around my opinion of greens – these are fantastic!

Turnip Greens with Apple Cider Vinegar

Adapted from Greenling recipe sheet
Serves 4

2 tsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 bunch turnip greens, stems removed, washed, chopped (about 6 cups chopped greens)
1 cup water

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add canola oil and onions, and cook until onions begin to turn brown. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar, and cook for about one minute, until the garlic softens.

Add the vinegar and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add chopped greens and a cup of water. Cover and simmer the greens for about 20 minutes, until they have wilted and lost their brightness. Check for tenderness, then serve.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 65.7
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 326.1 mg
Potassium: 296.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 10.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.2 g
Sugars: 2.3 g
Protein: 1.7 g

Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, caramelized onion, and sage

I’m slowly learning to like Brussels sprouts, and this recipe is by far one of our favorites. Such great flavors! Thought I’d give it a try before it’s the end of Brussels sprouts for this season! Enjoy!

Brussels sprouts with bacon and sage - done

Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, caramelized onion, and sage
Adapted from Tasting Table, Sous Chef Series, Williams-Sonoma, chef Katharine Marsh
Serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
kosher salt
1 pound brussels sprouts
2 slices bacon, cooked (fat reserved)
1/2 Tbsp bacon fat
5 sage leaves, chopped
1 medium lemon
flaky sea salt
crushed red pepper flakes

1. In a large skillet set over low heat, heat 2 tsp olive oil. Add the onions, a large pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are sweet and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Brussels sprouts with bacon and sage - onions Brussels sprouts with bacon and sage - caramelized onions

2. In a large stockpot, blanch the Brussels sprouts in salted, boiling water until bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the water and set aside to cool. Cut some of the larger Brussels sprouts in half but leave the smaller ones whole.
Brussels sprouts with bacon and sage - blanching Brussels sprouts with bacon and sage - cutting

3. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp on all sides, about 5 minutes. Pour off the excess fat, leaving about 1/2 Tbsp. Add the halved Brussels sprouts cut-side down to the pan and cook without stirring over medium heat until the sprouts are nicely browned and caramelized. Add the remaining sprouts to the pan and cook until browned, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the caramelized onions and sage. Finish the dish with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice, sea salt, chile flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil (1 tsp), to taste. Serve immediately.
Brussels sprouts with bacon and sage - cooking Brussels sprouts with bacon and sage - browned

Nutritional info:
Calories: 125.5
Total Fat: 7.2 g
Cholesterol: 5.0 mg
Sodium: 323.1 mg
Total Carbs: 16.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.6 g
Protein: 6.3 g

Skillet Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese

Our final item on the Easter brunch menu was this fantastic salad. I had just seen the recipe in my new Cooking Light magazine, and I knew we needed to try it!

I will say that making the dressing is a bit time-consuming, but I made it the night before and refrigerated it, and that worked well. Overall, it tasted fantastic and was a big hit with us and with our guests. Enjoy!

Asparagus salad with citrus vinaigrette

Skillet Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese
From Cooking Light, May 2014
Serves 6

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed (about 30 medium spears)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons julienne-cut orange rind
1 teaspoon julienne-cut lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups mixed baby salad greens
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add one-third of asparagus mixture; cook 4 minutes or until lightly charred and crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan; set aside. Repeat procedure twice with the remaining asparagus mixture.

2. Place 1 cup water in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until water just boils. Add orange rind; let stand 20 seconds. Drain, reserving rind. Repeat procedure with lemon rind.

3. Combine orange rind, orange juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until juice mixture measures about 3 tablespoons (about 5 minutes). Combine wine, lemon juice, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add 5 teaspoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in orange juice mixture.

4. Place 1/3 cup greens on each of 6 plates. Divide asparagus evenly among salads. Top evenly with cheese, pecans, and tarragon. Stir lemon rind and parsley into orange juice mixture; drizzle dressing over salads.

Nutritional info: