Tag Archives: side dish

Pearl Couscous with Zucchini, Corn and Herbs

During the summer months, corn and zucchini are always in abundance. However, in our house, zucchini is also a bottom dweller on the list of popular summer veggies available. Yet every year, I plant one or two plants, which inevitably will provide more zucchini than anyone around here wants to willingly eat.

When I saw this recipe, I knew it was one I wanted to try. I also wondered if my husband’s love of fresh summer corn would surpass his non-love of zucchini. So I gave it a try. The result was a surprisingly fresh dish bursting with flavor. Even my non-zucchini-liking husband said, “I like this salad!”

You can eat this as a salad, side dish, even a light main dish. Perfectly good hot, warm, or cold, it makes for an easy summer recipe.

Pearl Couscous with Zucchini, Corn and Herbs

Recipe slightly modified from Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/4 cups of water or vegetable broth
2 cups finely diced zucchini (approximately 1/4-inch cubes)
2 cups fresh corn kernels
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
ground black pepper
sea salt


Melt one tablespoon of the oil in a medium sized pan, over medium heat. Add  half the onion (3/4-cup) and a small pinch of salt. Stir frequently, cooking until the onions soften.

Add the uncooked couscous to the onions. Raise the heat to medium-high and stir frequently until the couscous begins to lightly brown (5-7 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon of the ground coriander plus the 1 1/4 cups of water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed by the couscous. Remove the pan from the heat, then fluff the couscous with a fork. Keep covered, off the heat until needed.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining onion plus 1/2-teaspoon salt, sauté until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring often, until the zucchini slightly soften and begins browning lightly (5-7 minutes, approximately). Add the corn and 1/4-teaspoon salt, stirring often until the corn is slightly glistening (2-3 minutes). Add the minced garlic, remaining teaspoon ground coriander, stirring until well combined (1-2 minutes).

Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Add the lime juice , stirring to coat everything. Add the cooked, fluffed couscous, fresh basil, parsley and chives. Season with black pepper and salt to your liking.

Serve hot, warm, or even cold if you’d like.


Baked Onion Rings

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (2 of 8)

As people start increasing their awareness about what goes into our mouths — is it low fat/low carb/low sugar? Gluten free? Organic? Paleo? — it seems we’re also allowing ourselves to be more judgmental of other people’s food choices. I think eating should be enjoyed; food should be relished. Its taken some real struggles and work for me to get to that point in my life. However, at the ripe ‘ole age of 30, I have come to the decision that calling people out for their food choices isn’t a healthy behavior. I don’t believe in food shaming — shaming people for what they choose to put into their bodies doesn’t simply create feelings of guilt (I shouldn’t/ should/ can’t/ won’t eat this/that) — it can feed into heightened concerns about following “perfect” diets, causing obsession and removing the joy of eating all together.

That isn’t to say I want to merely eat crap and not have any responsibility over such choices. I do think moderation for any choices is smart. As a kid, I ate my share of fast food, sodas, copious amounts of sugar… Was Taco Bell my lunch choice at least a few times a week? Oh yes. When we went out to breakfast with family friends occasionally on the weekend, was Burger King often my choice (because… well, french toast sticks)? Most certainly. I don’t eat that way now, mainly because it doesn’t make my body feel good afterwards.

There are times I crave foods for pure nostalgic reasons, other times simply because they taste good, never mind the stomachache I’ll probably have later on. Throughout my childhood, I remember the deciding factor on whether to go to Burger King or McDonald’s came down to two things:  the first had chicken tenders and onion rings, the latter chicken nuggets and french fries. When the desire for onion rings hit with full force recently, I knew a trip to good old BK wasn’t in my future, and I wanted to find a better alternative to deep fried batter coated onion rings. The following recipe is a crispy baked version, and it’s both tasty and fully satisfies the craving for what could be a much unhealthier snack!

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (5 of 8)

Baked Onion Rings

Serves 6-8

2 large yellow onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
canola oil
dipping sauce of choice (ketchup, ranch, etc.)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (7 of 8)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Generously brush a couple baking sheets with canola oil.

Peel off the outermost layer from the onions and discard. Cut off the ends, sparing as much of the onion as possible. Slice the rest of the onion into rings about 1/2-inch thick. Separate the rings, placing them in a bowl of cold water while you cut the rest of the onions.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, seasoning salt, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder Place the panko breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.

Take one onion ring, gently toss it in the flour, being sure to coat all sides well. Lightly shake off any excess. Next, dip it in the egg mixture, being sure to coat all sides. Lastly, toss the ring in the panko crumbs to coat. You can somewhat firmly press the egg-coated rings into the breadcrumbs to make sure they stick to the onion. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat this process with the remaining onion rings.

Lightly drizzle the tops of the onion rings with canola oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, flipping once about halfway through the baking time. Remove from oven and serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

*Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container then reheated at 350 degrees F until hot and crisp (about 10 minutes).

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (8 of 8)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (6 of 8)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (1 of 8)

Potato Macaroni Egg Salad


I’m not a stranger to insomnia. I do some of my best work in the wee morning hours. I have since I was about 12 years old. But sometimes it’s a pain in the ass when you’re wide awake at 4 in the morning, knowing you’ve got to be up at 7 because you promised to bake X, Y, or Z in time for your husband to be fed before showering and getting to work by 9. Sometimes, like on the fourth of July, you decide that naps are overrated. Then comes 7:30 PM and you’re supposed to be up at 10 for a certain city fireworks show…You think about the margaritas you’ve had for the afternoon shenanigans, the mimosas you had post-dinner… and then comes the fine line of do I drink more mimosas or go to bed? And you say f— yes, I’m having another g–damn mimosa!

The thing about drinking margaritas and mimosas is, what do you eat when suddenly you realize you’re absolutely in need of food to balance out the alcohol mess going on inside your body? I found myself eating a lot of the following salad. I call it an indecisive salad. It’s not just macaroni salad, nor potato salad, nor egg salad. Friends, it’s a deliciously disconcerted combination of all three salads. I absolutely condone eating this as breakfast, or a midnight snack. Perhaps alongside some grilled veggie dogs and raw sweet corn? That’s where we went with this business. Leftovers are even more delightful on day two or three.


Potato Macaroni Egg Salad

Serves 10-12


1½ cups uncooked elbow pasta
4 cups diced red potatoes with skins (about 5 medium taters)
5 hard boiled eggs
½ cup dill pickles, diced
½ a small sweet onion, minced fine
1 cup Vegenaise *
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
¼ cup freshly chopped chives
¼ tsp. celery seed
¼ tsp. ground coriander
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

* I use Vegenaise mostly because I prefer the flavor. If you want to use regular mayonnaise, feel free!


Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Place the diced potatoes into a pot of salted water until they’re covered by about 2 inches. Bring to a rolling boil and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender (12-15 minutes). Drain.

Peel the hard boiled eggs. Cut them in half. Place the yolks in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Dice the egg whites to bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the pasta, potatoes, egg whites, and pickles.

Use a fork to mash up the egg yolks you previously set aside. Add the minced onion, Vegenaise, mustards, chives, celery seed and coriander. Mix together until smooth and very well combined. Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking.

Add the Vegenaise mixture to your pasta and potatoes. Fold everything together semi-gently so you don’t break up the potatoes too much. Taste again, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Leftovers can be refrigerated for 2-3 days.


Scalloped Yam Casserole (Sweet Potato Gratin)

I told you we were back tracking to Thanksgiving. Here’s another recipe, in case you thought I was kidding. But the truth is, these sweet potatoes would be good at any time of year. Don’t limit yourself to the holidays. When I was trying to think of a dish to include with our Thanksgiving dinner using sweet potatoes, I knew I didn’t want to go with mashed yams. We were already having mashed potatoes and I didn’t see the need for two mash-y dishes, even if they varied in color.

Growing up, we always had that traditional style of sweet potatoes. You know what I’m talking about. A casserole filled with sweetly smashed yams filled with brown sugar, topped with pecans or walnuts and massive amounts of little marshmallows. I’m not giving this dish a bad rap at all. In fact, if it were on the table at a friend’s Thanksgiving meal, I’d gladly have some. But I wanted something texturally different.

I remembered my dad making scalloped ham and potatoes, usually after Christmas. I thought about scalloped sweet potatoes. Had I ever eaten something like that? No. I decided to cook the potatoes ahead of time, which would cut down on the amount of time in the oven. Plus I have a knack for under-baking potatoes, especially in a gratin/scalloped situation. I knew I wanted to make it with a creamy Béchamel (white) sauce that had a sage flavor, but wasn’t overpowering. Pecorino Romano is an Italian cheese made from sheep milk, which is quite salty and crumbly. I liked the idea of having that flavor without an overwhelming cheesiness. The result was a creamy, sweet, and rich side dish. The flavors worked well with one another.

That all said, I’ve got one other thing to talk about. A couple days ago, I got an e-mail inviting me to participate in a food photography contest called Top Dog Food Fight, wherein you have to submit a Thanksgiving recipe/photo of yours for people to vote on. The one catch (there’s always something, isn’t there?) is that you need to be on Facebook in order to vote; it’s how you login to the site to vote. That said, if any of you are on the ‘ole FB and would like to help, I posted my cranberry apple pie recipe, which can be voted for here:  I would appreciate it a ton… and thank you for taking the time. I genuinely appreciate any and all of you who take the time to read these posts – without readers, each post means very little at the end of the day.


Scalloped Yam Casserole
(Sweet Potato Gratin)

Yields one 9 x 9 inch pan.
3 pounds of sweet potatoes (yams)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup fresh sage, minced
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped fine
¼ tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1½ cups half and half
½ cup pecorino romano cheese
salt and white pepper, to taste

Wash the sweet potatoes in order to remove excess dirt. Place the potatoes in a large pot, then cover them with water. Bring the sweet potatoes to a boil over high heat. Once the potatoes have completely softened (20-30 minutes), enough to easily be punctured with a fork, remove the pot from the heat and drain. Cool the sweet potatoes completely in a colander. Peel off the skins (like peeling a banana). Slice the sweet potatoes into rounds that are about half an inch thick. Set aside until ready to use.

Place the butter in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the fresh minced sage. Allow the mixture to cook together for a minute or two, then whisk in the flour, thyme, some salt and white pepper (don’t go overboard with the salt and pepper – you can always add more later), until smooth. Allow the flour mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly.

Whisk in the half and half, as well as the fresh ground nutmeg. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens (10-12 minutes). Taste, then add more salt and pepper to your liking.


Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9 x 9 inch square pan. Arrange one third of the sliced sweet potatoes on the bottom of your baking dish, slightly overlapping the edges. Evenly spread a third of the sauce on top of the potatoes, then a third of the romano cheese. Repeat the layer with potatoes, sauce, cheese, potatoes, sauce, and ending with a sprinkling of romano cheese on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is nicely golden brown. Allow the potatoes to sit for five minutes before serving.

Homemade Hummus

One of my favorite last minute foods to make for groups of folks is homemade hummus. Sometimes I just like to make it because it tastes good. It’s easy, quick, and so much tastier than buying store-bought varieties. While you can use canned beans, cooking your own simply allows you to incorporate another layer of taste… Because although they’re easy and quick, canned beans don’t have a whole lot of flavor going on.

There are various ways you can beef up this recipe, but this is a simple and straightforward version. Add in some fresh chopped parsley, or roast your garlic (plus a few more cloves), try different spices in the bean broth. You can serve this all on its own, with chips, with vegetables, on a sandwich, in a wrap, with some falafel balls.


Homemade Hummus

1 cup dried garbanzo beans
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika

1/3 cup tahini
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. good quality olive oil
½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. ground cumin
salt, to your liking



Soak the dried garbanzo beans overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse. Place the soaked beans, sea salt, ground cumin, bay leaf, black pepper, and smoked paprika in a large pot. Fill with enough water to cover the beans by one inch. Bring to a low boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until the beans are tender (about 1-2 hours).

Drain the beans (you can reserve the cooking liquid for later use if you want, but it’s not necessary). Place in a food processor fitted with the large chopping blade. Also put the tahini, fresh lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and cumin in the food processor. Blend until very smooth. If the mixture gets too thick, you can add a little more oil. Taste and add salt to your liking. (Remember, add a tiny bit, blend completely, and taste again. You can always add more, but once it’s too salty there isn’t much you can do to fix your hummus!)

Place in a serving bowl, then drizzle the top of the hummus with a little olive oil and sprinkle on a small pinch of smoked paprika. Serve with pita chips, or fresh vegetables, or however you best enjoy your hummus!