Side Dishes

Summer Veggie Couscous

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I am so excited to share this Summer Veggie Couscous with you all because, as usual, I first made it forever ago and I’m finally getting around to posting the recipe. Last June when we had family visiting I wanted to make a crowd-pleasing side dish that would scream summer for dinner the first night.

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I love a good restaurant re-make so I set out to make my version of the couscous succotash from Not Your Average Joe’s. Unfortunately they recently changed their menu and this side dish is no longer offered so it’s a good thing I came up with my own version! Pearl couscous, also sometimes called Israeli couscous, is combined with sautéed sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes, shallot, roasted corn and crispy bacon. Mascarpone makes the dish creamy without making it heavy and some fresh parsley, chives and Parmesan pack a ton of additional flavor.

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I like to serve it hot, but it would also taste good at room temperature. Once you have all your veggies prepped this Summer Veggie Couscous comes together really quickly. I like to roast the corn and fry the bacon ahead of time then keep them both in the fridge until I’m ready for them.

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Roasting corn is my favorite way to cook corn on the cob (read all about it in my Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata post), but you can grill or boil yours if you prefer. Just keep in mind that roasting or grilling will make sure you have the most flavorful corn to add to the couscous.

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Summer Veggie Couscous pairs well with so many dishes making it the perfect go-to summer side. I originally served it alongside sous vide pork tenderloin, but I’ve since made it to go with burgers and hot dogs or just by itself. It would also work well with grilled chicken or shrimp; Not Your Average Joe’s served it underneath seared scallops. If you want another delicious BBQ side dish that also happens to be a Not Your Average Joe’s re-make, head to my Sweet Potato Salad recipe!

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Summer Veggie Couscous
 
Yield: 6-8 side dish servings
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces pearl couscous, regular or whole wheat, also called Israeli couscous
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot or ½ a large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 small ears of corn or 2 large ears, cooked and cut off the cob (see note)
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 ounces mascarpone
  • ¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
  • ½ tablespoon parsley, chopped, plus more for topping
  • 3 chives, chopped, plus more for topping
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Bring 1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon of water and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the couscous, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat when done; don’t drain.
  2. While the couscous is simmering, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they are soft, about 1-2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the snap peas, tomatoes, corn kernels and bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes then add the minced garlic. Sauté for 1 minute then turn off the heat. Add the couscous along with any remaining liquid to the sauté pan. Add the mascarpone and grated Parmesan then stir until the mascarpone has melted and everything is combined. Add the chopped parsley and chives then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with more grated Parmesan, chopped parsley and chopped chives.

 

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

We made it to Friday! Woo hoo! Time to celebrate with these Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts.

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve written about my large quantity of cookbook recipes I have yet to try, but I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned all my recipe binders here before. I have four enormous binders that are filled to the brim with recipes. Most of them contain recipes from magazines although one of them is devoted to recipes I’ve printed out. And you guessed it – most of them are waiting for me to try them!

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have a somewhat decent system where once I try one of the recipes if I like it then the recipe will usually end up on Lemon & Mocha so I can recycle the original. Of course, if I don’t like it then it immediately gets recycled. This way if I’m able to try some new recipes from the binder every once in a while I’m able to make room for all the new recipes I’m continually trying to shove in them. I figured I was long overdue in turning to my binders for some dinner inspiration. These roasted sweet potatoes from Cuisine at Home immediately caught my eye.

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love sweet potatoes, but I tend to simply roast them as wedges or bake them whole, which can get really boring. This recipe is just as easy, but adds an extra depth of flavor and richness to the potatoes. The sweet potato wedges are tossed in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and salt and pepper. The brown sugar creates a subtle sweetness and caramelization, while the balsamic vinegar provides the right amount of acidity.

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Crunchy toasted walnuts and creamy gorgonzola crumbles get tossed on top as soon as the roasted wedges are out of the oven. I decided to toss half the cheese crumbles on top of the potatoes during the last minute of cooking so that some of them got nicely melted while the others I sprinkled on top after they were out of the oven held their shape more to add an additional textural element to the dish. This works well with blue cheese crumbles as well, which is what I used since that’s what was in my fridge. I hope you enjoy this simple and delicious sweet potato recipe!

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 sweet potatoes, about 16 ounces total
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted walnuts, for topping (see note)
  • Gorgonzola crumbles, for topping
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut each sweet potatoes into 16 wedges. First, cut the sweet potato lengthwise. Then cut the sweet potato half into 4 long wedges. Cut each wedge in half to create 8 shorter wedges. Repeat for the other half of the sweet potato then repeat completely for the second sweet potato. Toss the sweet potato wedges in the bowl with the balsamic mixture. Place the wedges in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake the sweet potato wedges for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until they are slightly caramelized and tender. Remove from the oven and immediately top with the toasted walnuts and gorgonzola crumbles before serving.
Notes
To toast walnuts, lay them on a single layer baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees F. Watch them carefully as you do not want them to burn and it doesn’t take long for them to get toasted.

 Recipe from December 2011 issue of Cuisine at Home.

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Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts

Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes a dish is so incredibly simple you’re shocked you didn’t think of it before. That’s how I felt with these Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts. Grating some fresh Parmesan over roasted Brussels sprouts wasn’t something new for me, but grating it before baking the Brussels so they each get a crispy Parmesan cheese skirt? Genius!

Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’ve never heard of a cheese skirt it’s usually in reference to a burger and it’s when the cheese oozes out the side and gets crispy on the pan or griddle. Apparently a burger restaurant from California, Squeeze Burger, is the originator of the phrase. I like using it for all situations involving melted cheese that gets crispy including these Brussels sprouts.

Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m not sure where the idea for this quick side dish came from since I found “grate Parmesan on baking sheet before roasting Brussels” as a note in my phone. It could have been something I was watching on TV or something I saw in a magazine, but either way I’m so glad I finally listened to my phone note. I never liked Brussels sprouts growing up, but that’s because I had only ever had them steamed whole. Please promise to never, ever serve your kids steamed whole Brussels sprouts! Especially when you can make these tender, crispy and cheesy roasted Brussels sprouts in twenty minutes.

Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’re looking for more Brussels sprouts recipes I’ve also posted these citrus Orange Glazed Brussels Sprouts and the decadent Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Molasses and Vanilla Pecan Butter. It’s impossible to pick a favorite because they all are so different and I promise none of them will scare your children away from Brussels sprouts for life. Are you a Brussels sprouts fan? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, dark leaves removed and cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a quarter sheet sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray with cooking spray then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over top.
  3. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil in a mixing bowl to coat then toss with the garlic powder, pepper and salt. Place the Brussels sprouts cut side down on the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the Brussels and tender and crispy.

 

Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes

Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

How is it Monday already? Did this weekend fly by for anyone else? Hopefully I’ll make it a little better with this quick and easy recipe for Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes. Cheese makes everything better, right? Especially when the Parmesan is coating charred green beans and crispy potatoes.

Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I love cooking meals in the oven. I know you’re probably thinking, “oh yeah, oven cooking in the winter is great and cozy,” but I mean I love-love it, like even when it’s 80 degrees in the summertime. Oven cooking is just so easy and even though I love cooking I also love easy cooking.

Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Plus, the crispy textures and caramelized flavors you get from oven cooking? Delicious!

Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I do default to our large toaster oven for most oven meals since it preheats so quickly and doesn’t warm up the kitchen, but I will definitely heat up the kitchen if it means I can just throw everything on a sheet pan and have it come out perfect while I work on other stuff like writing this post. Or watching Netflix – getting through all those shows is important work!

Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’ve never had roasted green beans then you will be instantly hooked. It’s difficult to beat crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside roasted potatoes, but these green beans come close! Simply tossed with some olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, ground black pepper and some fresh grated Parmesan, this roasted sheet pan side dish is easy cooking perfection!

Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sheet Pan Parmesan Roasted Green Beans and Baby Potatoes
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces baby pee wee potatoes, halved (quartered if larger)
  • 12 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toss the halved potatoes and green beans with the olive oil to coat then toss with the garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing the green beans and potatoes after 10 minutes. Immediately top with the Parmesan when out of the oven.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral if you purchase something. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Are you guys peanut butter fanatics like I am? Most days I just look around the kitchen to see what would be a good vessel for my peanut butter snack. Pretzels? Check. Carrot sticks? Yup. Pancakes? Yes, please. Spoon? Sure, why not?

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes when I’m coming up with recipes I think the same way. I quickly discovered that roasted acorn squash makes an excellent peanut butter vessel. Especially when the peanut butter is combined with coconut milk, lime juice, coconut aminos (or soy sauce) and maple syrup to make a rich, tangy, salty and slightly sweet sauce. Add some chopped crunchy peanuts and savory scallions and you have absolute veggie perfection.

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you ever used coconut aminos? I bought a bottle at Trader Joe’s and this was my first time using it. Many people use it as a substitute for soy sauce since it tastes similar, although slightly sweeter. Coconut aminos is lower in sodium and contains no soy. If you would rather use low sodium soy sauce because that’s what you already have in your fridge you might need to adjust the sauce to taste a little since it’s not a direct substitution.

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love pretty much all roasted vegetables and acorn squash is no exception. The slices get tender, a little crispy and caramelized. Plus, how fancy do they look all laid out on the platter? You definitely need a very sharp knife to cut through the squash. If you’re finding the squash too difficult to cut through, cut a few slits in the skin of the squash then microwave for three minutes to help soften the skin.

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Looking for more peanut vessel inspiration? Check out my Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos, Sesame Peanut Noodles with Chicken or Apple Nachos. Or if you want something a little sweeter, the Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies and the Peanut Butter Apple Bars are both loaded with peanut butter. Yum!

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Thai Peanut Sauce
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 acorn squash
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cut the acorn squashes into ½-inch slices. Use a small round biscuit cutter or a knife to remove the center of each slice to leave you with acorn squash rings. Lay the squash slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray then season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. While the squash is roasting, make the peanut sauce. Whisk the peanut butter, coconut aminos, light coconut milk, maple syrup, lime juice, ground ginger and red pepper flakes in a small mixing bowl until well combined.
  4. When the squash is done, layer on a serving dish. Drizzle the peanut sauce over top then top with the chopped peanuts and scallions. Serve warm.
Notes
Substitutions: If you can’t use coconut aminos, you can try swapping in low sodium soy sauce. You might need to increase the amount of maple syrup. If you can’t use light coconut milk, substitute water.
Leave the acorn squash unpeeled. When you cut the slices you want the squash positioned so the stem end is facing your left hand and the bottom end of the squash is facing your right hand (if you are going to be cutting with your right hand).