Side Dishes

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mushrooms, oh mushrooms! They are an ultimate ingredient sent straight from the heavens. Mushrooms are amazing for a wide variety of reasons. One is their versatility- sauté them, bake them, roast them, grill them- you get the idea. Another reason for their amazingness is that they complement and enhance so many dishes and cuisines. French, Japanese, Northern Italian and Chinese cooking all would be lost without the heavenly mushroom. The final reason, at least in today’s list as I’m sure there are many, many reasons, mushrooms are just so amazing is one that you probably are aware of, but have never put a name to it. It is the mushroom’s umami quality.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Uma-whatnow? Umami has long been defined by the Japanese as the fifth taste (in addition to sweet, salty, sour and bitter), which is described as a delicious savory or meatiness. You know that indescribable rich taste you get from a mouthwatering cut of steak, an oyster, or a generous shaving of Parmesan cheese? That, my friends, is umami taking over your tastebuds.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

In 1985 scientists determined that the umami taste was caused by foods high in glutamate. In the last 15 or so years, it has become a popular term among chefs, critics and foodies in the United States so you may have heard it before on Top Chef or the Food Network. To me, umami describes a bite that isn’t a sweet dessert, but makes you go “oh-my-this-is-melting-in-my-mouth-amazing-is-this-real-life-right-now???”, or, you know, something along those lines.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

These balsamic roasted mushrooms will definitely make you experience that fifth taste. Chop up some mushrooms, toss them with balsamic and herbs, then bake until tender and this dish could not be any easier. Serve alongside some steak, tossed with a cream sauce pasta, on top of a spinach salad or just eat them by the forkful. Wait until you see how I serve them later this week!

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried parsley)
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick foil and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard and parsley in a medium bowl. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper then place on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden and tender, tossing once during cooking.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love discovering new ways to cook up my favorite vegetables instead of my usual steaming or roasting methods. When I came across these snow peas with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries I knew I had to make them. The flavor profile screams fall and nicely complements the dry rubbed roast pork tenderloin I posted last week.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I like to cook the snow peas until they are just tender, but still have plenty of crunch so the little peas pop out of the pods when you bite into them. It’s the little things, folks. This side dish can be made in less than 10 minutes making it a huge keeper in my book.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

The tartness of the dried cranberries and lemon juice pairs well with the nutty earthiness of the toasted walnuts.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I used the same dried orange cranberries I bought from Trader Joe’s that I used in my fall trail mix and that hint of orange seemed to make the dish even more flavorful. If you aren’t able to find orange cranberries you could try substituting half the lemon juice for orange juice or adding just the faintest amount of orange zest to the finished peas.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces snow peas
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ⅓ cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the snow peas and sauté until bright green, but not floppy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Recipe from Vegetarian for a New Generation:  Seasonal Vegetable Dishes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us.

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

This cauliflower… I’m getting weak in the knees. Who thought I would ever be exclaiming such things about some cauliflower?

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

There are several things that this dish has going for it. One is that the cauliflower is roasted in the oven. Almost every vegetable on the planet automatically tastes amazing when you oven roast it. See proof here, here and here. Then there is the inclusion of lemon, which always brightens up a dish.

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

Finally, there is the Parmesan. This recipe doesn’t call for a lot of cheese, but the nutty and melty Parmesan topping adds just the right balance to the roasted cauliflower.

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

Did I mention that you get to put this right in the oven then forget about it? Always a bonus in my book. So make this cauliflower tonight, but make sure you invite me for dinner.

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into small & medium sized florets
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan
  • Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Line a large roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Spread the cauliflower florets in the prepared roasting pan then drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice. Top with the garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, making sure to stir 1-2 times during cooking.
  4. Remove from the oven and place in a serving dish. Immediately top with the Parmesan and chives.

Recipe from The Food Network.

Diane’s Orzo Pasta Salad

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My stepmom’s orzo pasta salad is a delicious regular at all our family barbecues. It has a great combination of ingredients with the saltiness from the feta cheese and the sweetness from the bell peppers and grape tomatoes. Also whole olives which olive lovers enjoy and non-olive lovers rejoice that they can easily pick them out and plop them on their fellow olive lovers’ plates.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part is the orzo tossed in the simple vinaigrette. What is orzo? Although it may be shaped like rice pilaf, orzo is a pasta. It is typically made with semolina flour, which is denser than white flour and helps the orzo keep its shape and bite after being cooked. This makes it the perfect choice for a make ahead pasta salad since most traditional pasta can get mushy from sitting in a vinaigrette overnight. Not this dish!

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My stepmom has been making this exact winning combination of ingredients for the Greek orzo pasta salad for years so it would be ill-advised to mess with the best.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

However, as with any pasta salad one of the beauties is that with a good base and vinaigrette you can mix and match according to your own tastes and preferences.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Not a feta fan? Swap in some goat cheese. Not big on bell peppers? Toss in some sliced snow peas. The possibilities are endless! But make sure you try this possibility first :)

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad
 
Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound box orzo, cooked as directed being sure not to overcook
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 4-5 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 can large black olives, drained
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. In a large bowl combine the cooked orzo with the olive oil until completely coated. Add the bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
  2. Mix in the feta cheese. Adjust salt and pepper according to taste. Refrigerate until serving, making sure to mix well before serving.

 

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

Normally when I see a recipe I am just drooling over it takes me months, even years, to finally get around to making it. Then when I finally make it months later I eventually get around to posting it on Lemon & Mocha. Not this time, my friends!

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

I saw this glorious Thai stuffed sweet potato one week, made it the next week then made it again to photograph the week after. Now here it is on Lemon & Mocha. Unbelievable!

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

The reasons I made it so fast are the same two reasons you should make it this week:  1. The minute I saw it my peanut sauce loving self was instantly obsessed with the idea and I knew I had to have it and, 2. Reading the recipe I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

A third reason was also that I’m always looking for healthy vegetarian meals since Matt and I try to go meatless a couple nights a week. The flavor of the creamy sweet potato with the tender broccoli, crisp scallions and sweet edamame smothered in this peanut sauce is divine. It was so divine in fact that I ate it three nights in a row!

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

So get adventurous with your dinner this week and make this Thai stuffed sweet potato.

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
for the sweet potatoes
  • 4-6 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets and steamed
  • 1 cup cooked edamame beans
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • Salt and pepper
for the peanut sauce
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½” piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Directions
for the sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce the potatoes 4-6 times with a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the potato.
  2. Let the potatoes cool slightly before handling then cut a slit in the top of each one. Stuff with the broccoli and edamame then drizzle generously with the peanut sauce. Garnish with the chopped scallions and peanuts. Serve hot.
for the peanut sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. If you would prefer a thicker consistency add more peanut butter then remix. If you would prefer a thinner consistency add more coconut milk then remix.

Recipe from Shared Appetite.