Side Dishes

Warm Mushroom Barley Salad

Warm Mushroom Barley Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every time I make a dish with mushrooms in it, it immediately becomes one of Matt’s new favorite dishes. I’m also mushroom obsessed, but Matt is on a whole other level. When I ask him what he wants me to make, his answer is always “that <insert name of food here> with the mushrooms.” This Warm Mushroom Barley Salad was no exception. The reason I’m telling you all this is because I was distracted with getting ready for our Japan trip and I couldn’t think of what to write for this recipe so Matt said, “just tell them that I love it.” Haha! That would be my shortest post ever – Matt loves this dish. The end.

Warm Mushroom Barley Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love cooking with different grains and was excited to discover how much I liked pearled barley a few years ago. It has a nice chewy texture and a slightly nutty taste that pairs really well with the sautéed mixed mushrooms. You can use any mushrooms you want for this, but since it’s the star ingredient I recommend a mix of a few that are maybe a bit different from your usual cremini or white mushrooms. I used a combination of cremini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

Warm Mushroom Barley Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The Warm Mushroom Barley Salad is a simple dish, but simple is good. Especially around the holidays, then simple is really good. You can make this dish ahead of time and warm it in the microwave or serve it right from the stove-top without using any precious holiday oven space.

Warm Mushroom Barley Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since it’s simple, feel free to jazz it up further with some of your own obsession ingredients. It would taste so good with some caramelized onions, some kale or even some garlicky chicken sausage – yum! Or just keep it as is and enjoy!

Warm Mushroom Barley Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Warm Mushroom Barley Salad
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Directions
  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the pearled barley then cook for 30 minutes, drain.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook half the mushrooms for 5 minutes, until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper while they’re cooking. Then remove the mushrooms to a large mixing bowl. Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat with another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and the other half of the mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes, until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper while they’re cooking. Remove the mushrooms to a large mixing bowl.
  3. To the mushrooms add the drained barley, the lemon juice, parsley and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid to salt! Serve warm or room temperature.

Recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine.

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples  |  Lemon & Mocha

I just realized this is the third Friday in a row I’m posting a vegetable dish. Don’t worry, this Braised Red Cabbage and Apples is just as swoon-worthy as the other two healthy side dishes. Tender, sweet and the perfect amount of acidity from the balsamic vinegar, you will be hooked on this cabbage after one bite.

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples  |  Lemon & Mocha

Instead of adding any sugar, the red cabbage is cooked down with an apple to give it some natural sweetness. The cabbage takes on a lot of the balsamic vinegar flavor, which is also slightly sweeter than other types of vinegar since it’s made from grapes. I love making this dish for the holidays because it makes a ton, the color is stunning and you can absolutely make it ahead of time. In fact, it tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld together. It also freezes really well; I just freeze it in quart size freezer bags or reusable containers.

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples  |  Lemon & Mocha

My grandma, Babu, is always on my mind, but especially today on her birthday. Babu loved cabbage and I think she would have been a big fan of this Braised Red Cabbage and Apples. I also think she would be laughing about me celebrating her birthday with cabbage and telling me she would have much preferred some vanilla ice cream! She used to make ground turkey and rice stuffed cabbage rolls, baking them right in our toaster oven. I would never take a bite of them – they didn’t look like my usual macaroni and cheese and fish sticks – but I bet I would love them now.

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s so interesting to me how your taste-buds evolve and change the more you introduce them to different foods. Also, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, a lot of it has to do with how the foods are prepared and presented. Matt gobbles this braised cabbage up every time I make it and its been a big hit whenever I make it for company. I hope you enjoy this one and have a wonderful weekend!

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples  |  Lemon & Mocha

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples
 
Yield: 10-12 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large red cabbage, about 2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tart apples, such as granny smith, peeled, cored and sliced
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Prepare the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage and remove the loose outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters: place the cabbage stem side down and cut it in half. Slice each half in half again from the top to the stem to make quarters. Remove the stem and core from each quarter wedge by diagonally cutting it off. Finally, lay each quarter down on the flat side and thinly slice. Place the sliced cabbage in a bowl and cover with cold water while you finish getting everything else together.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet that has a lid or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is golden, stirring while it cooks. Add the apple slices and cook for 3 more minutes, continuing to stir.
  3. Drain the red cabbage slices and add to the onions. Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and 2 more tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine well them season with salt to taste. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Before removing from the heat, add some freshly ground black pepper and another tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Season with additional salt according to taste if needed.
Notes
This recipe makes a lot, but it can easily be halved. It also freezes really well in freezer bags.

Recipe from NY Times Cooking.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Let me get right to it. These are mashed potatoes except they’re made with cauliflower instead of potatoes. So I guess technically mashed cauliflower? Or maybe even cauliflower puree? But I’m sticking with Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes because they taste like mashed potatoes, both in texture and taste, but they’re cauliflower. Crazy!

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Of course if you put them side by side with mashed potatoes you’d probably prefer the latter since, you know, potatoes and butter and all, but I would take these Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes any day. Cauliflower has a really mild flavor and will take on the flavor of whatever you add to it, which is part of the reason you’re seeing cauliflower rice and pizza pop up everywhere. The other reason is that cauliflower has a ton of health benefits and is low in carbs.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

My first favorite part of this recipe is that it tastes really good. It’s garlicky, creamy and a little cheesy. My second favorite aspect of this recipe is that it’s incredibly clean and only uses four ingredients, not including salt and pepper. My final favorite bit of this recipe is that it is so easy. So easy as in scroll down to read the recipe just to see how short and sweet it is. Better yet, I’ll type it here: Steam cauliflower. Toss cauliflower, plain nonfat Greek yogurt, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a high-speed blender. Then eat it and feel no guilt at all.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

The first time I made Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes I was really skeptical. I thought it was going to taste just like some mashed up cauliflower, but I couldn’t believe how well the creamy tang of the yogurt and the flavor of the Parmesan and garlic turn the cauliflower into something completely different.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

We’ve eaten them with Monday’s Slow Cooker Short Ribs, turkey meatloaf, Pesto Turkey Meatballs and countless other entrees. What would you eat with your Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes? Can’t wait to hear what you all think about this one!

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • ⅓ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Steam the cauliflower florets.
  2. Add the cauliflower florets, Greek yogurt, Parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and season with additional garlic powder, salt and pepper as needed.

 

Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower

Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

This might sound weird, but I love cooking vegetables. Anyone else or am I the only weird one? When I was growing up we always only had steamed vegetables. After countless nights of steamed broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and asparagus, I thought of vegetables as boring, required food. I was required to eat them, which meant I required cheese sauce poured over all of them in order to do so.

Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

When Diane and my Dad got married, Diane introduced me to exciting vegetables, like grilled zucchini and sautéed mushrooms. I realized that vegetables could taste not just bearable, but actually good, no cheese sauce involved – who knew? When I started cooking on my own, I quickly discovered how many ways there are to make really, really good-tasting vegetables. And not just delicious for a vegetable – just delicious period!

Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love vegetables and definitely no longer think of them as a boring food group. With a ton of variety, both in ingredients and cooking techniques, this food group is anything, but boring.

Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

However, I know a lot of people that don’t eat exciting vegetables, which is one of the reasons I love cooking them for other people. This Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower is one of those exciting vegetables. As I mentioned in last week’s Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos post, I’ve been experimenting more with different spices and the minute I tried this combination on crispy roasted cauliflower I was obsessed. The flavor is nutty, earthy and a little smoky, which is perfect for fall.

Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes I have them as a warm side dish and other times I throw them cold over a spinach salad. And sometimes I roast them and just start eating them off the baking sheet since they smell amazing and as usual I probably waited too long to eat lunch so I’m starving. However you decide to eat them I hope you make them soon to remind yourself how crazy tasty vegetables can be!

Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and ground black pepper. Pour over the cauliflower florets and toss to completely coat. You may want to really rub the tops of the cauliflower florets in the mixture to get them completely coated.
  3. Place the coated cauliflower florets on the prepared baking pan and spread them out. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until they are tender and browned. Top with the chopped fresh parsley before serving.

 

Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Today is Lemon & Mocha’s five year anniversary! Can you believe it? Five years ago today I published the first ever Lemon & Mocha blog post and here we are with another first – the first ever mac and cheese recipe on the site! Can you believe that? I can’t decide which thing shocks me more. I think, and anyone who knows me well will agree, that this being the first mac and cheese recipe is the most surprising part of today by far. I am OBSESSED with macaroni and cheese. I have been since I was a kid and I’m equally surprised I haven’t just turned into a big mac and cheese noodle so far. Although not for a lack of trying – check out my Halloween costume from last year!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I was in middle school I would come home from school every day and eat an entire box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. I took my box mac and cheese very seriously, too. I remember one time being at my best friend’s house and telling her mom not to worry, that I would make the box of mac and cheese because I knew the secret way to make it taste best (more butter, less milk, is key!). Nowadays, I’m all about the Annie’s mac and cheese. But what I love most of all is a cheesy, gooey, flavor packed homemade macaroni and cheese.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

The flavor packed part is really important because a quality mac and cheese needs to be more than just noodles and melted cheese sauce. It has to have depths to its flavors so each bite takes you on a flavor roller coaster. Not a huge upside down one, but like a medium curvy one so just when you think you’ve settled in another flavor curve hits your palate. I usually use multiple types of cheeses and a little dijon mustard in all my homemade mac and cheeses as a start for that extra depth of flavor.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

This mushroom version is some next level mac and cheese though since it’s loaded with umami. If you aren’t familiar with the term, check out my Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms post! We’re sautéing both cremini and shiitake mushrooms in shallots and garlic before putting them in the dish so they’ve reached their peak deliciousness. We’re also using dried mushrooms, which get re-hydrated in some warm water before being sautéed. The reason we do this is so we create a rich mushroom liquid that we use right in the Mushroom Mac and Cheese. This lets rich mushroom flavor permeate every bite, even if you don’t get an actual piece of mushroom.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve made this mac and cheese in the past, but this most recent time Matt and I couldn’t get enough of it. The minute I took my last photo I grabbed a fork and started eating it right from the serving bowl – smelling it while photographing had been tortuous! We didn’t want to eat it all over the weekend because it’s, you know, not the healthiest, so I froze a container of it. Needless to say, that container promptly got defrosted the next night!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

I can’t believe this is the first macaroni and cheese recipe I’m posting on Lemon & Mocha, but I promise it won’t be my last. Also, how many times did I just type mac and cheese? It must be my favorite word combination. Thank you all so much for continuing to follow this journey with me! As much as I pour my heart into my cooking, I equally pour my heart into my writing each week and connecting with everyone in this tiny online space brings me so much joy. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mushroom Mac and Cheese
 
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 pound dried medium shell pasta
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces whole cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1½ cups shredded fontina cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded sharp or smoked cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Submerge the dried mushrooms in the hot water. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. When they are done, remove them from the water, squeeze them out, then chop and place with the other chopped mushrooms. Make sure to reserve the mushroom stock.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the box instructions. Drain.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the shallot and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped cremini and shiitake mushrooms. Add the dried oregano and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms have stopped releasing liquid and are browned. Set aside.
  5. In a large dutch oven or stock pot, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly. The roux should be slightly darkened. Add the white wine, whisk to combine and let cook for 1 minute. Add the milk and whisk. Once the milk has warmed, add 2 cups shredded gruyere, 1 cup shredded fontina and 1 cup shredded cheddar, whisking after each addition. Once smooth, add 3 tablespoons of the mushroom stock (the water the dried mushrooms were in), the mustard and the cooked mushroom mixture. Stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta and stir to completely coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Pour the mac and cheese into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup shredded fontina cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes.