Side Dishes

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt, my cousin, Sarah, and I have a slight obsession with elote, also known as Mexican street corn. If your life has been elote-less thus far, what you need to know is that it is grilled corn slathered in lime juice, mayonnaise or crema, then sprinkled with salt, cotija cheese and chile powder. Basically, perfection on a cob.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s hard to say where our obsession stems from. It could be because we’re cheese freaks, because we love Mexican food, or maybe because we have some inexplicable connection to corn fields. However, I think the real reason we love it so much is because it reminds us of summer beach days.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every year my family meets at the beach in Delaware for our family beach week. A few years ago, we started incorporating happy hour towards the end of the beach day. Yes, we enjoy having a drink while the sun’s still warm before having to shower and get ready for dinner. But let’s be honest – it’s really about the corn. We tried it at happy hour at the Mexican restaurant near the beach and we got hooked. I’m talking left the beach early because we couldn’t take the corn craving anymore hooked. Ever since then, we’ve been on an elote frenzy, ordering it whenever we see it popping up on restaurant menus. So when I saw this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad I knew I needed to have it as soon as possible.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first made it to bring to a barbecue and the weeks following I made it two more times because Matt and I couldn’t get enough. It is that good. I love elote and literally the only thing that could make it better is pasta, because hello – pasta! This pasta corn salad is packed with mind-boggling flavor and loaded with all the best goodies. There’s avocado, cheese and bacon in there. Yes, bacon! The pasta salad is smoky without being spicy, although you can certainly make it more spicy. My preference is usually just the least-spicy baby version possible.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every time I’ve made this it’s come out perfectly delicious. Even though I think it’s perfect as is, one of the reasons I love making pasta salads (other than my noodle obsession) is that it’s so easy to adjust the flavors to your personal preferences. Like it richer? Add more mayonnaise. Like it with more zippiness? Add more lime juice and zest. I like to make it as written, taste, and then add more of whatever I feel it needs, if anything. If you are going to make it ahead I would wait and stir in the bacon, cheese and avocado last minute. Also the pasta will soak up some of the dressing if you leave it overnight before serving so maybe make some extra dressing to pour in last minute as well.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
for the pasta salad
  • 1 lb farfalle pasta
  • 2 15-ounce cans of fire-roasted corn, roughly 3 cups corn (see note)
  • 3 scallions
  • ½ cup parsley leaves (or cilantro if you prefer)
  • ½ jalapeño (see note)
  • 6-8 strips bacon, cooked
  • ⅔ cup Cotija cheese
  • 1 avocado
for the dressing
  • ¾ cup regular mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 1½ teaspoons hot sauce (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili powder (more if desired)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the pasta salad
  1. Cook the farfalle pasta according to the package directions, being sure not to overcook. Strain and then immediately rinse with cold water. Let strain until completely drain, lightly patting with paper towel if needed.
  2. Drain the cans of corn and add them to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked pasta. Remove the ends of the scallions then slice and add to the bowl. Chop the parsley or cilantro and add to the bowl. Carefully remove the seeds and pith from the jalapeño being sure to wear gloves or wash your hands immediately after. Finely chop and add to the mixing bowl. Crumble the cooked bacon and the cheese into the mixing bowl. Pour the dressing on top then stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Dice the avocado and fold in to combine.
for the dressing
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Notes
- Note about corn: If you can’t find or don’t want to use cans of fire-roasted corn, you have a few options. Trader Joe’s sells roasted corn in their freezer section. You could char some drained regular canned corn in a skillet on medium-high heat. You could also grill your corn then remove from the cob.
- Note about spiciness: I do not like spicy food. If you make the recipe as written and remove the seeds and pith from the jalapeño, use a mild hot sauce (I use Trader Joe’s Green Dragon sauce), and use a minimal amount of the chili powder, it will not be spicy. If you are concerned, reduce the amount of hot sauce and omit the chili powder. If you want it spicier, I would leave the seeds of the jalapeño and increase the amount of chili powder.

Recipe adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

Cast Iron Home Fries with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Cast Iron Home Fries with Creamy Garlic Dressing  |  Recipe at lemonandmocha.com

I owe you all a huge apology. It is with a heavy heart that I must let you know that I kept this savory, tangy, and unbelievably tasty cast iron home fries recipe from you all for two years. I legitimately have no excuse and won’t even try to make one up, so I am sorry. But now that I’ve apologized we can all move on and focus on how these Cast Iron Home Fries with Creamy Garlic Dressing need to be at your next brunch. Or weekend breakfast. Or breakfast for lunch, because who says brunch food has to be either breakfast or “breakfast for dinner”?!

Cast Iron Home Fries with Creamy Garlic Dressing  |  Recipe at lemonandmocha.com

When my brother-in-law gave me the Brunch at Bobby’s cookbook I immediately gravitated towards this recipe in the side dish section. Something about the colors of the dish and the crispiness of the potatoes made me want to make (and eat) it ASAP. I’ve had a lot of home fries over the years, but never one with a dressing. Genius! The dressing allows the potatoes to have so much more flavor and really pack a punch.

Cast Iron Home Fries with Creamy Garlic Dressing  |  Recipe at lemonandmocha.com

This side dish could easily be made into the star of brunch by serving it with poached or fried eggs. The thought of the runny yolks mixing with the creamy dressing is causing my brain to overload with excitement right now. Deep breaths. Phew.

Cast Iron Home Fries with Creamy Garlic Dressing  |  Recipe at lemonandmocha.com

I originally made these potatoes to go with the Eggs Benedict over Cheddar Scallion Waffles with Crispy Chorizo, Smashed Avocado, and Green Chile Hollandaise I made for a Southwestern themed brunch. The boldness of these potatoes held up to the outrageous-ness of the eggs Benedict perfectly. I adjusted a few things from the original recipe to save some time and fit my personal preferences, including roasting the garlic for the dressing to add a more mild and caramelized flavor. Enjoy!

Cast Iron Home Fries with Creamy Garlic Dressing  |  Recipe at lemonandmocha.com

Cast Iron Home Fries with Creamy Garlic Dressing
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
for the garlic dressing
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves of roasted garlic (see note)
for the home fries
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, about 3 large potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 bell pepper, I used ½ red & ½ orange for some variety
  • 1 small head radicchio
  • 3 scallions
Directions
for the dressing
  1. In a small bowl, mash the roasted garlic. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, and mustard then whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper then let sit for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to settle. If you will be letting it sit for more than 30 minutes, cover the bowl and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
for the home fries
  1. Scrub then clean the potatoes. Pierce them each 5-6 times with a fork then place the potatoes on a microwave safe baking dish and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes. Carefully flip the potatoes over then microwave for another 5 minutes. You should be able to poke a fork or paring knife into the potato with no resistance. Add more cooking time if needed, or alternatively use the “potato” setting on your microwave. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle cut them into a 1-inch dice.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, prep the rest of the vegetables. Removing the seeds, cut the bell pepper into a thick dice. Halve the radicchio then thinly slice. Thinly slice the scallions, discarding the dark green parts.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced bell pepper and cook until the pepper starts to soften. Add the remaining oil then the diced potatoes. Spread the potatoes so they are in a single layer and cook until they have begun to get crispy on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Carefully toss them and continue to cook until crispy, about 5 more minutes. Add more oil or increase the heat of the stove if needed. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  4. Move the potatoes and bell pepper to a large bowl or serving dish. Add the sliced radicchio, dressing, and scallions then carefully stir to combine. Feel free to not use all the dressing depending on your personal preference. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve while warm or at room temperature.
Notes
- To roast garlic: preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Leaving the skin on the garlic bulb, cut the top off the head of garlic so that almost all the tops of the cloves are exposed. Take a small piece of tinfoil big enough to wrap the garlic in. Place the garlic in the center and partially fold up the sides. Drizzle the exposed garlic with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Seal the foil to make a little packet of the garlic and roast for 35 minutes. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze out the roasted cloves.
- To prep ahead: roast the garlic, make the dressing, microwave the potatoes, and prep the vegetables. Then in the morning you will only have to deal with the cast iron skillet portion of the recipe.
- Cooking the potatoes: the original recipe from Bobby Flay called for the potatoes to be boiled whole for about 25 minutes, or until cooked through. I went with the microwave method to save time, but feel free to boil the potatoes if you prefer.

Recipe adapted from Brunch at Bobby’s.

Garlicky Stir-fried Bok Choy

Garlicky Stir-fried Bok Choy  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have two more simple dinner recipes here for you on Lemon & Mocha this week. First up is the third solution for my quick and healthy vegetable side dish dilemma. Asparagus with creamy orange sauce, steam-sautéed broccoli and now garlicky bok choy. I had never cooked with bok choy before this recipe, but I love vegetables so I was excited to try something new.

Garlicky Stir-fried Bok Choy  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt and I enjoy cooking Asian stir-fries, but we get tired of always using broccoli and snow peas for our green vegetables. This garlicky bok choy is a delicious solution.

Garlicky Stir-fried Bok Choy  |  Lemon & Mocha

The vegetable itself is really mild so it takes on the flavor of the garlic and the soy sauce really well.

Garlicky Stir-fried Bok Choy  |  Lemon & Mocha

Did I mention that this recipe took less than ten minutes from start to finish? Talk about a simple dish!

Garlicky Stir-fried Bok Choy  |  Lemon & Mocha

Do you have a quick vegetable dish that is a staple in your kitchen? I’d love to try them out!

Garlicky Stir-fried Bok Choy  |  Lemon & Mocha

Garlicky Stir-fried Bok Choy
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1½ tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1¼ pounds bok choy, ends trimmed and discarded, stalks and leaves cut into 1” pieces (halve the stalks lengthwise if more than 1” wide); keep stalks and leaves separate
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Whisk together the broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch dissolves. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle add the book toy stalks. Stir frequently for 1 minute then add the bok choy leaves and prepared sauce.
  3. Stir the bok choy and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat when the bok choy is crisp-tender. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.

Recipe slightly adapted from Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables.

Steam-Sautéed Broccoli

Steam-Sautéed Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

Remember last week in the asparagus with creamy orange sauce post how I went on and on about how I struggle with finding simple, healthy and tasty vegetable recipes? Well, I stumbled across another solution last week!

Steam-Sautéed Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

Behold: steam-sautéed broccoli! I’m sure plenty of folks have been using this quick technique for years, but I am giddy with excitement over it.

Steam-Sautéed Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

The broccoli gets lightly sautéed in the pan, a small amount of flavorful liquid is added before putting the lid on, and the broccoli steams up right in the pan!

Steam-Sautéed Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

I used chicken broth for the liquid and that combined with the garlic infused oil you sauté the broccoli in made it so shockingly delicious.

Steam-Sautéed Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

I came across this quick recipe in a new cookbook I found at the library that is filled 100% with only vegetable recipes. It is chock-full of gorgeous color photos, which is essential for a quality cookbook perusal. The author almost didn’t include this recipe because it was just a way to cook broccoli that she had been doing for years and it is so simple she didn’t even really consider it a recipe. But her sister requested it’s inclusion and I am so happy she did. No more plain steamed broccoli in my house!

Steam-Sautéed Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

Steam-Sautéed Broccoli
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 small cloves or 1 large clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, crowns cut into bite-sized florets and stalks peeled and diced, kept separately
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Place the oil and the garlic in a large skillet or pan then place over medium heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the diced broccoli stalks to the pan and cook for about 1 minute while stirring.
  2. Add the broccoli florets to the pan and stir to combine the broccoli with the garlic oil. Cook the florets for 3 minutes, or until the broccoli turns bright green in color.
  3. Add the broth then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan. Let the broccoli steam for about 5 minutes, or until the broccoli is desired tenderness. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
Notes
If you prefer using only broccoli florets, simply omit the broccoli stalks.

Recipe slightly adapted from Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables.

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

These next couple weeks are all about simple weeknight recipes. Sometimes when I plan the meals for the week I have such large ambitions and enthusiasm. It’s a Sunday morning, I’m feeling well rested, and Matt and I are ready to head to the grocery store with nothing but a lazy day in front of us.

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Skip ahead to a regular weeknight. I was just at work for 9 hours, now I’m driving through traffic to pick Matt up at work and go home, we’re hungry, tired and that hour long multistep dish is so not happening. Sound familiar?

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I absolutely love cooking, but most weeknights, dinner is just something I want to get done so I can get to work on my to-do list, read or just flop on the couch. Lately, one of my biggest dilemmas has been coming up with different, but still quick, ways to cook our veggies. Enter this asparagus with creamy orange sauce!

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and orange zest are combined to provide a bright and tangy complement to steamed asparagus stalks. The sauce adds a little something extra to the asparagus while adding only a minute more of cooking time.

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

So keep it simple, but exciting, this weeknight and jazz up your veggies!

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 2 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • Pinch of paprika, ground cayenne pepper or chili powder depending on heat preference
  • Slices of oranges for serving, optional
Directions
  1. Snap off the woody stems of the asparagus and discard. Steam until crisp tender.
  2. Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, zest and ground spice in a small bowl. Spread over the cooked asparagus before serving. Serve with the sliced oranges if desired.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.