Side Dishes

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.

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Can you believe summer is already almost over? Not to remind you or anything, but it’s August! Where does the time go? I don’t have nearly enough time to cook all the dishes I would like to, so it’s very rare when there’s a dish I go back to again and again. This watermelon salad is one of those dishes.

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Simple as it seems, this watermelon salad with feta and a citrus mint vinaigrette was my favorite recipe I discovered all last summer. Everyone I made it for requested the recipe. It is refreshing, healthy and has a surprisingly delightful flavor profile.

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & MochaI remember looking at the list of ingredients on the Food Network website and thinking, “this is going to be interesting…” But it all works and comes together in a seriously tasty way.

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The vinaigrette consists of lemon and orange juices, minced shallots, honey for some sweetness and to brighten the salad some fresh mint. Of course some olive oil, salt and pepper are added to the mix. The little cubes of watermelon soak up just the right amount of the dressing and the feta adds some saltiness to balance the dish.

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Eat this as a snack, appetizer or side dish along with your summer meals.

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Watermelon & Feta Salad
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, about 2 lemons
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ seedless watermelon, rind removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 3-4 large fresh mint leaves, julienned
Directions
  1. In a large measuring cup or small bowl whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallot, honey, salt and pepper. While continuing to whisk carefully pour in the olive oil. Continue whisking until combined well.
  2. Place the watermelon in a large serving bowl, top with the feta and mint, then top with enough of the vinaigrette to coat the watermelon. Gently toss. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed then serve immediately.
Notes
Do not combine the vinaigrette with the watermelon until right before serving.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Food Network.

Pasta Tuna Salad

Pasta Tuna Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t have some great tale associated with this recipe. It doesn’t come from some heartfelt childhood memory. Nor did I stumble upon it in a cookbook with excitement and rush to make it. And it’s definitely not a copycat recipe from my favorite meal at my favorite restaurant.

Pasta Tuna Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The story is quite simple. One day I was deciding what to have for lunch. I had leftover noodles and tuna fish so I mixed them together with some raw veggies. It was yummy so I kept making it. The end. Sometimes the best recipes are the most simple ones.

Pasta Tuna Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Many years ago this was my most requested dish from my friends for all our summer barbecues. This was before I ditched the boxed cake mixes and started baking these Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes of course.

Pasta Tuna Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t make it as often now since Matt is a tunafish-hater. Do you have anyone like that in your house? I rinse the can, toss it in the enclosed trash, run the disposal and eat the evidence, yet as soon as Matt walks in the kitchen the first words out of his mouth are, “Did you make tunafish?” Insert scrunched up grossed out face here. Is he a secret detective or do all tunafish-haters have such a ridiculous tunafish radar?

Pasta Tuna Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Anyways, back to this delicious pasta tuna salad. The creaminess of the mayonnaise mixed with the pasta and delightful tunafish make this a perfect barbecue side dish, but the best part comes from the crunchy sweetness of the peas, bell peppers and grape tomatoes. I keep mine pretty basic, but feel free to jazz yours up with different veggies, different seasonings or even sun-dried tomato mayo.

Pasta Tuna Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pasta Tuna Salad
 
Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound tri-color short pasta, cooked al dente
  • 12 ounces tunafish, drained and flaked
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise, more if desired
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 8 ounces frozen green peas, cooked and cooled
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Combine the pasta, tunafish, bell pepper and mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Carefully stir in the tomatoes and peas. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
If serving after being refrigerated stir then add more mayonnaise if desired to renew it’s creamy texture.

Coleslaw

I love the Fourth of July probably for the same two reasons most of America loves the holiday: days off work are awesome and barbecues are even better. I’m sure day-drinking summer beers is high up on the list as well. There are so many great barbecue side dishes that it’s hard to play favorites, but one that I always look forward to is coleslaw.

You’re probably thinking, “She just got us all hyped up about barbecues to bring the discussion to… coleslaw? Really?” Think about it though, it’s not only a side dish, but also a topping for burgers and hotdogs fresh off the grill. Versatility at its best. I’ve had some poor luck with homemade coleslaws, mostly because fast food chains have spoiled coleslaw for me with their little plastic cups of goodness probably loaded with preservatives and other fast food chemicals used to make things delicious.

I’ve never let failure stop me before so I kept searching until I found a barbecue-worthy coleslaw. And I did! This coleslaw is simple, crunchy, slightly sweet with a bit of tanginess. Enjoy it on your plate, on your burger and in your stomach this Fourth of July.

Coleslaw
 
Yield: 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ white onion, grated
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 small head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, grated onion, apple cider vinegar, sugar and celery seeds. Add the shredded cabbage and carrot then toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit at least 1 hour before serving.

Recipe from Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries, and Shakes.