Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Category: Side Dishes (Page 2 of 5)

Fresh & Fun Summer Salsas

Who doesn’t like a fresh salsa to eat alongside Mexican food or tortilla chips? Although I’m always up for a nice and spicy salsa, I rarely make my own. This summer, Anil’s 30th birthday party gave me the perfect opportunity to change that. I explored with avocados, pineapple, and peaches. Instead of giving you exact measurements, I think it’s better to just give you some guidelines, since the outcome of these salsas highly depend on how spicy or sweet you want these to be. You don’t need any recipes, all you need is some time for  a bit of trial and error, I promise! Here’s what I came up with:

Avocado Wasabi Salsa

Take a few of your favorite avocados, add some tomatoes, finely chopped cilantro and onion, jalapeños, and lime or lemon juice. Yep, you read that right, all the ingredients you would normally use to make a nice and robust guacamole. Now here’s the secret ingredient: wasabi! Be careful with the number of jalapeños you add here since you don’t want to make this too spicy to eat. Gradually add about a drop of wasabi paste (found in many Asian stores as well as regular grocery stores) to the mixture and keep taste testing until you find your desired level of spiciness. Lastly, don’t forget to add salt to taste!


Pineapple Jalapeno Salsa

For this salsa, you can either use very finely chopped fresh pineapple, or even the small, 1-cup fruit bowls of pineapple (with all-natural juice, no added real or fake sugars). Either one will work, but you’ll want to briefly run these through your food chopper for to make sure the pineapple is not too chunky. Before you do that, add some fresh jalapenos, again, the number you add here, will largely depend on your spice level tolerance and the spiciness level of your jalapenos. I used ½ jalapeno per cup of crushed pineapple. Seed and chop about half a Roma tomato and then briefly run all three ingredients through your food chopper. If your pineapple is too sour, simply add about a spoon of sugar to sweeten the salsa a bit. Season with some fresh salt and pepper and you’re good to go!


Ginger Peach Salsa

I love the flavors of sweet peaches, paired with  slightly spicy and warm ginger. For this recipe, peel a one-inch piece of ginger and briefly run it through a food chopper with 2 cups of fresh peaches (skin and pit removed), or 2 of the fruit bowls of peaches (with all-natural juice, no added real or fake sugars), and half a Roma tomato (seeded and chopped). Want more ginger flavor? Simply add some ginger powder, about 1/8 of a teaspoon at a time, as you don’t want the ginger to be too overpowering. You can also add a bit of sugar to sweeten this salsa. The exact flavor totally depends on how peachy or gingery you want this to be. Before you serve, just make sure that the ginger piece is fully chopped.


Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes, not only because they taste good, but because they’re high in vitamin C, B6, A, fiber, iron, and magnesium as well. The next time you make sweet potato fries and want to do things slightly different, try sprinkling on some garam masala and salt on your fries. The warmth and slight spiciness of the masala goes together great with the sweetness of sweet potatoes. My favorite brand of store-bought oven sweet potato fries is Trader Joe’s, but many other brands are great in the oven as well. You can cut up your own fries too, though this is often a bit too time consuming to do during the week for me. Give it a try and let me know what you think! Excellent in summer or fall :-)

Baked Italian Style Zucchini

I love this baked zucchini because it’s extremely easy to prepare and is delicious as a side dish. As a bonus, it looks great as well, so can easily transform from weekday dish into weekend entertaining side. Serve with your favorite meat or protein, or other main dish and some garlic bread.

Ingredients (for 2 to 4 people)

2 medium zucchinis
a cup of grape tomatoes, washed and halved
½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and crushed red pepper to taste
olive oil to drizzle
a few fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (optional)



1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

2. Half each zucchini lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds

3. Place halved zucchinis on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and crushed red pepper

4. Drizzle zucchinis with olive oil and place grape tomato halves in the middle of each zucchini. Then sprinkle with breadcrumbs, followed by the grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

5. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes

6. Take out of the oven and sprinkle basil leaves (if desired) over the dish. Serve warm and enjoy!

Broccolini with Lemon Butter & Parmesan

This is one of my favorite dishes because it’s super quick & easy, fresh, pretty healthy (ok, fine, it’s got its share of butter!) and uses those amazing Meyer lemons I talked about in my previous post again. It also uses my absolute favorite butter: Kerrygold – a rich, creamy and all natural Irish butter that’s sold in many grocery stores. The Kerrygold website has some awesome recipes on it as well, so be sure to check that out, too:

Ingredients (for two people)

One bunch of broccolini
Grated zest of a lemon, plus a squeeze of lemon juice
4 tablespoons of Kerrygold Irish butter
Shaved Parmesan cheese (to garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste



1. Wash the broccolini and remove parts of the stem. Cut into smaller pieces if desired.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet and add the lemon zest and broccolini. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and saute for about 10 minutes.

3. Season with salt and pepper, the remaining butter, and the shaved Parmesan. Serve warm and enjoy with warm, crusty bread with more butter!

Balsamic Roasted Fennel

You might be more familiar with eating fennel in soups, but it’s actually quite amazing when braised or roasted as well. I experimented with fennel this past weekend and decided to go the nice and simple route by simply tossing the fennel with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The house smelled amazing and we devoured this fabulous side dish in less than 15 minutes!

Ingredients (for 2 – 3 people)

2 medium sized fennel bulbs
4 tablespoons of high quality balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut the fennel into small (less than an inch thick) slices / rings and add to a large bowl.

2. Toss the slices with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake on a large baking sheet for about 40 to 45 minutes on 400 degrees.

3. Serve warm and toss with grated Parmesan cheese, your favorite sauce, or enjoy the fennel just plain out of the oven, as a satisfying side dish.


Saffron Rice

Let’s face it. Rice gets boring. Sometimes, you just need a few ingredients to spice things up. Here’s my go-to rice recipe that goes great with Indian food, but works with virtually any dish that could use more than just plain rice on the side. Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, makes plain old rice instantly exotic.

Ingredients (for 2 – 4 people)

cooked Basmati or just plain white rice
a handful of golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon of saffron threads
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, toasted
a handful of cilantro, finely chopped
a handful of chopped cashews, toasted
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste


1. Soak the saffron in a little bit of water for at least two hours. When shopping for saffron, look for bright red threads, which generally indicate a higher quality. Do keep in mind that the threads should be lighter orange or yellow at the ends, otherwise they might have been dyed red to look more expensive.

2. Cook the rice according to instructions, adding half the saffron to the rice before it cooks. Soak the raisins in water so they get nice and plump, and toast the cumin seeds in a little bit of heated oil, while toasting the cashews in a small frying pan without any oil.

3. Wash and chop the cilantro and add all ingredients, including the remaining half of the saffron, to the rice. Pan fry for a few minutes and your fragrant and tasty rice is done!

Curried Quinoa Bowl

If you’ve never tried quinoa before, you’re missing out on a great rice / grain substitute which happens to be an excellent source of protein and dietary fiber. Quinoa is a grain often found and eaten in South America. The cooking process is similar to rice, which makes it easy to prepare. I often whip up quinoa bowls that Anil and I pack for lunch during the week. Here’s how you can recreate one:

Ingredients (for 2 people)

1 to 1.5 cups of quinoa
1.5 of your favorite frozen mixed veggies
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and add the frozen veggies.

2. Saute the veggies for about 10 minutes and add the curry powder, salt, and pepper.

3. Mix in the quinoa when it’s done cooking and stir the entire mixture so all flavors can combine. Enjoy as a quick and easy lunch or as a side for dinner.

Rustic Bruschetta

If you’re looking for an easy snack or light meal, rustic bruschetta is great because there’s no measuring required to make this traditional appetizer taste good! Here’s what I like to whip as a light dinner or lunch when I’m too tired to cook:

Take a loaf of French or Italian bread and cut it into small logs.  Brush half the loaf with good quality extra virgin olive oil and lightly rub with a clove of garlic. Take two medium tomatoes, remove the seeds and dice the tomatoes along with some fresh basil leaves and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Toast all the bread until the crust is crispy, but bread is still soft. Top half the loaf with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with some finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Spread the other half of the loaf with Mascarpone cheese and sprinkle with some dried oregano, dried basil, and crushed red peppers. Be sure to spread the cheese right after taking the bread out of the toaster, so that it melts into the bread (yum!).  Serve warm with a glass of vino and enjoy!



Olive Oil & Herbes de Provence Pita Pizza

I love pita pizzas! Pocket-less pita bread makes a perfect pizza crust and allows you to create personal pizza with just about any topping you like. I recently experimented with a light olive oil base to create a nice and light pizza to go along with a wonderful glass of French wine. Here’s what I came up with. This pizza can be eaten as a light dinner or cut into smaller pieces to serve as a nice and hearty snack.

(for 1 person)

1 pocket-less white or whole wheat pita
1/2 teaspoon of herbes de provence
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 small tomato, thinly sliced and seeds removed
1 crimini mushroom, thinly sliced
a small handful of fat free or low-fat feta cheese
a sprinkle of good quality extra virgin olive oil



1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Slice the tomato and mushroom and brush the pita with olive oil. Sprinkle all herbs evenly all over the oiled pita.

3. Top the pita with the feta cheese and bake for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the crust is fairly crispy. Serve warm with a glass of your favorite vino!

Turkey Wrapped Asparagus

If you’re looking for a quick side-dish, look no further than these turkey-wrapped asparagus. What I love about asparagus is that they taste great and are also an excellent source of folic acid, and vitamins A, B, and C. They are super easy to prepare as well, so definitely give these a try, even on a busy week day!


1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and washed
1/2 pound of sliced, low-fat deli-style turkey
4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray

Directions (For 2-3 people)

1.  Wash and trim the asparagus. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2.  Spread aluminum foil over a large cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray.

3.  Wrap each asparagus spear with 1/2 slice of turkey. You can also leave some asparagus spears unwrapped in order to eat them plain (this also works well if you’re serving vegetarians).

4.  Arrange asparagus on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper. Spray with cooking spray and bake for about 12 minutes on 450. Serve warm and enjoy!

In the picture above, you’ll see that I served the asparagus with some whole-wheat bread and Portobello Medallions au Poivre, a fantastic dish that I highly recommend as well!

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