Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Category: Side Dishes (page 2 of 5)

Tomato-Pesto Couscous Bowls

This quick and easy couscous mixture is a definite crowd-pleaser.  The flavors of toasted pine nuts, fresh tomatoes, pesto, and Parmesan cheese all combine to make a delicious dish that tastes great warm, room temperature, and cold, so you can refrigerate any that is left over, and easily have it the next day.

dsc_0578-001Sometimes a cook needs a really easy, really quick, yet really delicious recipe to fall back on during busy times.  I won’t list to you my family’s schedule these days (it would take too long, and would most likely be boring to anyone but me!) but let’s just say that on many evenings, there isn’t a lot of time to make a complicated meal.  This couscous dish has been in a regular rotation with us lately, because it takes under ten minutes to prepare, yet it tastes like it took much longer, and it incorporates great flavor with good nutrients.

The Near East company makes all kinds of flavors of couscous mixtures, and I have tried many of them.  For this dish, I like to use the toasted pine nut couscous mix, and then add my own tomatoes, pesto, and cheese.  (I am not getting paid to promote this company’s couscous mix, though maybe I should look into that….)

couscous with tomatoesThough couscous is not gluten-free (it is made from semolina, so it is actually considered a form of pasta), it does have some health benefits, such as vitamins B and E, and a relatively high amount of the mineral selenium.  I am kind of in the middle of the road when it comes to gluten, where I am trying not to eat too much of it, yet I find that eating some foods with it works fine for my body. The thing I really like about couscous is the quick-cooking factor, and also the versatility.  It’s a way to get in some vegetables and herbs, like tomatoes and basil, and feel full and nourished at the same time.

tomato and pesto couscousAnyway, I love the tangy taste of the pesto with the fresh, ripe tomatoes, which are so good this time of year!  If you want to add shredded, cooked chicken to this couscous recipe, feel free.  I know we are having it as part of our dinner tonight, and my husband will probably take a container of it with his lunch tomorrow.  I hope you all enjoy the last few days of summer! It is really starting to look and feel just a bit like fall, which is not a bad thing, but for me, it is a bit nostalgic.  The daylight is fading earlier in the evenings and there is a bit of a chill in the breeze now, yet the sun is still warm and soft in the afternoons.  Have a great weekend!tomato and pesto couscouscouscous against windowtomatoes and parmesanI am sharing this recipe over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Natalie @ Kitchen, Uncorked.

Tomato-Pesto Couscous Bowls

  • Servings: 4
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  • One package of Near East Couscous Mix (I think the toasted pine nut mix works best for this recipe)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of prepared pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil sprigs for garnish, if desired


Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the package.  While the couscous is cooking, chop the tomatoes, and measure out the pesto and shredded cheese.  When the couscous is cooked, combine all the ingredients. Serve in bowls.  May be served warm, at room temperature, or cold out of the refrigerator, if using as a leftover. Enjoy!



Roasted Radish Medley

The gorgeous colors in this roasted radish medley reflect its deeply satisfying taste. Radishes, baby beets, carrots, and Cipollini onions are roasted in a sauce of honey, olive oil, wine vinegar, and garlic.  Roasting brings out a mellow flavor in the vegetables, especially the radishes.  The lightly sweet flavors from the carrots and onions are balanced with the distinctively earthy taste of the beets.

It feels good knowing that these vegetables, grown in the earth, contain lots of vitamins and  minerals to infuse my body with good energy.  And the bright colors make them fun to work with.  I know there are many people who don’t like radishes or beets.  But when they are roasted in this flavorful sauce with their mellow flavors released from the roasting, and the melt-in-your-mouth texture, they really are delicious, especially when eaten warm, right out of the oven.

beets radishes and carrots 2I adapted this recipe from one I found in the May/June issue of Victoria magazine.  I find that magazine so inspiring, with its beautiful photographs and stories about women who follow their dreams.  I only changed a few things in my recipe–I used orange carrots instead of white, and used baby beets instead of Chioggia beets.  Also, I used white wine vinegar instead of Champagne vinegar, and my cooking time ended up taking a few minutes longer.

raw radishes and carrots 2I find that I really enjoy working with vegetables.  As I was peeling the skin off of the onions, I was thinking, you can’t really be in a rush to do this job….but then I realized how often I am in a rush–either in a true hurry to get somewhere on time, or a self-imposed rush  to get more and more done.  I let go of that feeling for a few minutes and peeled the onions, noticing their smell and their texture, and paid attention to the pretty pink hues of the beets and radishes as I washed them.  I noticed that the beet stems look like roses.  That the stripes in the beets are amazing.  In the middle of a day and evening full of obligations and schedules, there was a window of time when I was present with the beauty of nature.

beet roses 4I am still working on posting some meals that can be ready quickly, or made ahead of time to be eaten when hungry people get home from soccer games and track meets….That is also part of my family’s reality.  But for today, I am sharing a recipe that gave me a meditation with the vegetables, and made me feel more in touch with our beautiful earth (and with myself too).  If you have a 20 minute window of time (plus about 25 minutes for while the vegetables roast), I highly recommend it.  I hope you all have a great weekend! This week, Fiesta Friday is co-hosted by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Scarlett @ Unwed Housewife, and I look forward to checking out some inspiring posts over there!raw radishes and beets and carrotsroasted radish medley on tray 1roasted radish medley in white bowl 2

Roasted Radish Medley

  • Servings: 6
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  • approximately 1 pound of radishes, washed and trimmed, with about 1/2 inch of the green tops still on, cut in half length-wise
  • 3-4 medium-sized carrots, washed and peeled, cut in half length-wise and then cut in half width-wise
  • 8 ounces of Cipollini onions (you can also use pearl onions), peeled and blanched
  • 4 baby beets (or 2 small Chioggia beets, if you can find them), trimmed, washed, and halved length-wise (it helps if the beet pieces are about the same size as the radishes, so the roasting time works for all the vegetables)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • black pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a small bowl, place the honey, olive oil, minced garlic, white wine vinegar, and melted butter.  Whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, combine the radishes, carrots, blanched onions, and beets.  Pour in the honey mixture and toss to coat the vegetables evenly.  Spread the vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer, cut side down.  Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Roast in your 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from one in the May/June 2016 issue of Victoria magazine

Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Fresh rosemary and parsley, plus minced garlic, give these potato wedges delicious flavor.  Roasted with olive oil, they become tender on the inside, and slightly crispy on the outside.  With only a few minutes of prep time, you can take potatoes to the next level and create a savory, aromatic side dish people will ask for again and again.

Rosemary is such a fascinating herb to me.  Not only does it have an unforgettable and deeply lovely scent–it’s also hardy, easy to grow, and can live through the winter indoors in a pot placed in a sunny spot.  Once the weather turns cold, I like to keep as many herbs as I can (or as many that will survive) in pots throughout the house.  They smell good and are so nice to have close-by for cooking and baking.  Rosemary is commonly known as the herb of remembrance.  Apparently it has natural preservatives and enhances the brain’s memory function.  Also, according to many sources, rosemary historically symbolizes remembrance–remembrance of friendship, of marriage vows, and of people we have lost.  Sprigs of rosemary have been used as decorations at wedding ceremonies to encourage love and fidelity, and they have been placed at the gravesides of loved ones as tokens of loving memories.

rosemary potatoes rawThe recipe I am sharing below is based on one I found in a very fun book:  “China Bayles’ Book of Days: 365 Celebrations of The Mystery, Myth, and Magic of Herbs from the World of Pecan Springs,” by Susan Wittig Albert.  I made a few minor changes, but I find that this recipe calls for just the right amount of herbs and spices for my and my family’s tastes, and the potatoes turn out great! I can’t wait to make them again!

rosemary potato wedgeThis book also has lots of information about using herbs, including recipes, remedies, gardening tips, and the folklore behind many of the herbs we use today.   I thoroughly enjoy continuously learning about the history and uses of herbs–the evolving knowledge brings new layers of meaning to cooking and gardening.  Since my husband and I learned that rosemary symbolizes remembering marriage (we read this a few years ago in a different book), we have kept a rosemary plant growing either in or outside of our house as a symbol of tending to our marriage.  Now that I have learned that rosemary also is a symbol of remembrance of those we have lost, I will use it as a way to cherish the memory of my dear father as well.  rosemary potatoes on whiteAs we try to make sense of our world and put our feelings into some kind of expression, herbs can help.  As Shakespeare’s Ophelia says to Hamlet:  “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love, remember….”

potatoes and herbsWe are now a little over halfway between the beginning of fall and the beginning of winter.  The colors outside are more muted, but no less beautiful.  A lot of the leaves are on the ground now, and the ones left on the trees are mostly rust or a faded gold color.  The stars and the moon seem extra-bright lately, though maybe that’s because it is dark more now.  This is one of the best times of the year for cooking and baking, and I look forward to sharing some more recipes with you soon.  I hope you all have a great weekend!  I think I will take a tray of these tasty potatoes over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday ink-up, co-hosted this week by Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook and Kaila@GF Life 24/7.November backyard viewfall grasses in the sun

Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
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  • 4-5 medium-sized red potatoes (or about 8  small ones), washed and cut into eighths
  • 1-2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon of parsley, chopped


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Wash and cut the potatoes into eighths.  Wash and chop the herbs, and mince the garlic.  In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss the potatoes wedges in the bowl with the olive oil-herb mixture.  Make sure all the pieces are coated with oil–it will make it less likely that they will stick to the baking sheet.  Place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake in your 400-degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until just crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside.  About 20 minutes into the baking time, use a spatula to toss and flip the potatoes so they bake somewhat evenly.  If they stick a little, just use the spatula to unstick them and move them around.  If you don’t want to clean up a messy baking sheet, you can also coat the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Once they are done, you may add more salt and pepper, if you like. Enjoy!

Kale and Pecan Casserole

kale and pecan casserole 3Kale is such a popular green right now!  Long overlooked, it is now revered for its superior nutritional qualities.  Kale is something that grows really well in our garden, and its growing season lasts from spring until late into the fall, so we eat a lot of kale in my household.  I am always looking for new ways to use this superfood, and this casserole is my latest favorite.  The jury still seems to be out on whether raw or cooked kale is best for us.  Some sources say that cooking kale kills some of its nutrients, while other sources say that boiling kale for a short time makes the nutrients easier for our bodies to digest.  The way I deal with this is that I make kale all kinds of different ways–raw in smoothies and salads, baked in kale chips, and blanched and baked in this scrumptious casserole.

In addition to the vitamin and mineral-rich kale, this casserole also contains pecans, which are chock-full of nutrients as well.  The recipe I am sharing below is adapted from one I found in one of my favorite cookbooks, the charming “Mrs. Chard’s Almanac Cookbook: Hollyhocks and Radishes” by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.  The pecans and nutmeg offset the earthiness of the kale, and the sautéed onions and breadcrumbs add a savory richness to bring out kale’s deep flavor.  I feel like I am feeding my body lots of good energy when I eat this casserole.  Many of us are depleted of minerals these days, so eating a vegetable so rich in minerals helps restore the natural balance our bodies crave.

kaleOur bodies long to be close to the earth and the minerals that come from the earth.  With spring finally here and gardening season in full swing, I am reminded of how good it is to eat foods grown in my own soil or soil close to home.  This quote expresses this feeling well, and though the author mentions a carrot, I think the sentiment can apply to all fruits and vegetables:  “If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine.  You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation.  If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy.”  –Thich Nhat Hanh

As a side dish, this casserole can bake away peacefully while you focus on the main course of the meal. kale in skillet 2kale and pecan casserole 1kale and pecan casserole with lilacskale and pecan casserole with vases

Kale and Pecan Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
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  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of kale, chopped
  • 1 cup of onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup whole of wheat bread crumbs, plus 1/4 cup more for later
  • 3 tablespoons of butter, plus 2 more for later
  • 1 cup of light cream (if you don’t have cream, I have also used 2% milk)
  • 1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • salt to taste


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Thoroughly was the kale and trim away the leafy parts from the thickest parts of the stems.  Discard the stems.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the kale.  Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the kale is just barely tender.  Drain well in a colander and chop into bite-sized pieces.

In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter.  Sauté the chopped onions until soft (about 7 minutes).   When the onions are softened, add the cooked kale, 1/3 cup bread crumbs, cream, chopped pecans, nutmeg, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Transfer to a lightly greased 1 and 1/2 quart deep baking dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet.  Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs to coat.  Sprinkle over the top of the kale mixture in the baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Add salt to taste, as needed. Enjoy!

To make ahead, prepare the recipe up to the point of baking.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

This dish also tastes good as a leftover.  Refrigerate the leftover portion and warm it back up in the oven the next day.

Recipe adapted from “Mrs. Chard’s Almanac Cookbook: Hollyhocks and Radishes” by Bonnie Steward Mickelson


Festive Apple-Filled Acorn Squash

acorn squash in bowlI love it when I find a recipe for a dish that is fun, seasonal, healthy, and pretty.  This month, I had an acorn squash sitting on my counter top for longer than I would care to admit. (Luckily, they keep really well!)  I wanted to use it, but I just kept putting it off.  Then a couple of days ago, I was leafing through one of my many favorite cookbooks, Mrs. Chard’s Almanac Cookbook: Hollyhocks and Radishes, by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.  This cookbook is so much fun to simply look at, with lots of stories and beautiful illustrations about life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  And the recipes are beguiling too, with many of them based on local, seasonal produce.  I found a recipe for acorn squash that caught my eye, and I acorn squash and apple slicesam so glad I found it that I wanted to share it as soon as I could get a blog post together.  The recipe combines acorn squash with apples and a brown sugar/lemon juice/ginger mixture.  Not only does this combination taste really great together, but it also looks so festive.  And it is super-easy–most of the time it is simply baking away in the oven, warming up your kitchen and making it smell divine.  You can scoop out the apple/squash mixture and serve it in bowls, but if you find small enough acorn squashes, they serve as their own pretty bowls.  The only thing I did to change the recipe is that I cut it down by thirds, since I was only making enough for my husband, myself, and our children this time.  And truth be told, not everyone in the family is a squash-lover.  But some of us are, and we really enjoyed this side dish.  (I even converted one non-squash-lover into a squash fan!)  For the recipe I post below, I will use the amounts given in the above-mentioned cookbook.  However, if you are cooking for a smaller group, just divide by half or thirds.  If you are looking to jazz up a standard squash dish or need a fun dish to make for guests, this is a good one to use.  acorn squash with applesacorn squash 1

Apple-Filled Acorn Squash

  • Servings: about 6
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  • 3 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 4 tart apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • about 6 Tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place squash halves, cut-sides down, in a buttered baking dish.  Bake 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, and ginger.

Turn baked squash over and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Fill with apple mixture, then dot with butter.  Return to oven for another 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

This recipe comes from Mrs. Chard’s Almanac Cookbook: Hollyhocks and Radishes by Bonnie Steward Mickelson.

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