Tag Archives: side dish

Side Dishes

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa

Hi Food Lovers,

Welcome to the new and improved Little Chef Big Appetite. After a few months of reconstruction, I am back. New site, new look, but same old freakin’ delicious grub.  Don’t worry, I certainly did not stop, eating, cooking, baking, biting, or savoring — oh no. In fact, I have lots of goodies to share with you.


This post is all about cooking with color. In California, I am lucky enough to get fresh, colorful produce all year round. But growing up on the East coast, I remember loving summer evenings, strolling through the local farmer’s market with my parents. There was so much delicious fruit to sample and bring home. There was really no other season like it.  Now even though that I live in Southern California where we have a farmer’s market year round, it is still one of my favorite activities. Now on Saturday mornings, I begin my weekend scouring the stands for beautiful colors and unusual vegetables I can bring home to my kitchen.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

This dish is certainly not lacking in color, but what is great about it is that it is made from produce that is fresh everywhere, all the time. Most importantly, it is full of flavor due to the wonderful spice mixture it incorporates.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

 Now, I know quinoa is a big thing these days. Everyone seems to have a recipe for it. And I know it’s got it’s health benefits – full of fiber and protein…but I have to be honest, I still find it really bland when eaten on its own.  In this dish, though, I mixed it with lemon and parsley and then served it with the spiced vegetables, so all the flavors really complement each other, and I actually enjoy eating quinoa.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

This is a relatively easy side dish to pull together and it will truly please your taste buds. Oh, and did I mention that it is vegetarian and gluten-free? Make this one for company – I did and it was a hit. I served it alongside roast chicken, but I don’t see why you couldn’t serve it at your next BBQ or potluck.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe


Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias into ½" thick pieces
  • 1 medium red apple (any kind), halved, cored, and sliced into 1" cubes
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1.5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • zest of ½ lemon plus 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook the quinoa in water according to package directions (do not add salt if directions say to do so).
  2. In a small bowl stir together the cardamom, coriander, black pepper and ¾ teaspoon of the salt. In a large bowl combine the carrots, apple, red onion and olive oil. Add the spice mixture and mix well to combine. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove the vegetables from the oven when the carrots are tender and the onions begin to turn dark at the edges.
  3. Transfer the quinoa to a serving dish and stir in the remaining salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and parsley. Spread the roasted vegetables on top and serve. Best if eaten same day.
*Recipe adapted from Tasting Table

Main Meal Side Dishes Vegetarian Meals

Baked Falafel Puffs

I surround myself with never-ending to-do lists. During the school year I had sticky notes surrounding my desk with lists of errands I needed to run, groceries I had to buy, and a list of assignments with impending due dates.

Now I am at this strange period in between college and “real life” and although I suppose I have all the free time in the world and zero obligations, I still find myself surrounded by these lists. But, why? I guess I do it to myself. I need to constantly be busy.

So, over the next two months, one goal I have for myself is to embrace my “chill” time  better. I want to turn off the clocks and have no obligation to time. I want to be able to sit in front of the TV for hours on end, without fear that I am wasting time. I want a full week with no appointments, no errands, no anything. But, I suppose that wouldn’t really be real life, would it?

I want to rid myself from routine. I need a new running route. I need a new TV show (Law and Order SVU marathons are good and all, but are starting to make me a liiiiiittle too paranoid). My grocery store list needs to be revamped. And I want to cook new things and stop making the same “staple recipes” that may taste great, but bring no new excitement into my life.

So I bring you baked falafel. I LOVE falafel, but had never made it before. I suppose I had figured it would be too complicated. Not. True.

The ingredients and spices are simple and everything just goes right into the food processor.

The dough is rolled into two-inch balls and placed on a baking sheet. Typically, falafel is fried, but this version is much healthier and still crisps up great!

Baked Falafel Puffs Recipe

Baked to perfection so they are nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.


What new (and possibly even unusual) food should I try this week? Send me suggestions!


Baked Falafel Puffs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 30 falafels
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz) chickpeas, drained
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ cup vegetable oil
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine onion, parsley, cumin, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and pulse until the mixture is combined (slightly chunky is okay). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  3. Fold in the two flours and the baking powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  4. Set oven to 425 degrees. Scoop small pieces of dough and roll them into 2 in. sized balls. Set them on the baking sheet. (The balls do not spread like cookies, so don’t worry about the spacing). Brush the tops of the balls liberally with vegetable oil or spray with cooking spray.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. (At 25 minutes I reduced the temperature to 400 and put the oven on convection to help the balls crisp even more). Allow the balls to cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.  They taste mighty good with hummus!
Recipe adapted from The Boston Globe


Gluten-Free Side Dishes Vegan

Spinach with Raisins and Nuts

I am going to eat a lot on Thanksgiving. And I mean, A LOT.

Thanksgiving at my house is wild. There is so much preparation and strategy involved.  The table is always set for 25+. For one week leading up to the big day all ingredients are stored in 3 refrigerators throughout the house.  2 ovens are on nonstop for 24 hours. My dad is the mastermind / master chef behind it all. He creates the expansive menu and delegates tasks in the kitchen. If you even go near the kitchen you better be prepared to be handed an apron, a knife and start chopping.

In the end somehow it all gets done: a 26 pound turkey. Gravy. Potato Rolls. Cornbread stuffing. Chicken Sauage Stuffing. Mushroom Stuffing. Cranberry Sauce. Sweet Potato Casserole. Green Beans. Brussel Sprouts. Pumpkin pies. Pecan Pies. Apple Crisp.

And leftovers. Oof.

I can’t wait.

So I should probably eat well this week, right? Maybe I should eat some vegetables. How about some spinach? That’s healthy.

But, I don’t want to eat it raw. I don’t like eating any vegetable raw. I need them cooked. I need to add flavor, spice, sugar, SOMETHING to make them taste less….earthy.

So what can we do with this bag of raw spinach to make us LOVE it?…to make it taste so good we will forget about pumpkin pie and cornbread for the time being.

Spinach with Raisins and Nuts Recipe

This is what we are gunna do: saute it, chop it, add some spices and vinegar, and throw in some raisins and toasted nuts for a nice crunch.

Now we have ourselves something totally healthy disguised as something delicious and flavorful. I ate this whole recipe as a lunch yesterday (I swear it was filling), but you can share it and have it as a side with any meat or vegetarian meal.

Now, this definitely means I can have an extra slice of pecan pie, right?


Spinach with Raisins and Nuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1
  • 3 oz. fresh spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon pine nuts, toasted*
  • ⅛ cup almonds, toasted*
  • pinch salt
  1. Heat a large skillet oven medium-low heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the spinach and saute until it is wilted and bright green.
  2. Remove the spinach from the skillet. Allow to cool, then squeeze out excess water and chop.
  3. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the skillet (again over medium-low heat). Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and raisins. Cook 4 minutes, stirring often so the garlic does not burn. Next, add the spinach and salt and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Then add the vinegar and nuts to the mixture and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Serve immediately. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
* To toast the nuts, heat an oven to 350 degrees. Lay the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes. Remove to check their status and stir. Return to oven for an additional few minutes if necessary (check often as they may burn quickly). The pine nuts will cook faster than the almonds so you may want to do this in two batches. Feel free to change it up - any combination of nuts will be great!


Salads Side Dishes

Curried Rice Salad

I love summer.

Curried Rice Salad Recipe

Want to know why?

For me summer means BBQs, family gatherings, delicious summer dishes, and fresh fruits and veggies.

Oh yeah, and ice cream sundaes.

And sunburns.

I love you SPF 75.

What I love so much about this rice salad is that it is so versatile. Want more heat? Use the whole chile pepper. Less curry flavor? Omit some. Not a raisin person? Try currents instead.

Any way you make it, it is a perfect summer side dish to any meal.  If you are still looking for the perfect 4th of July menu, add this to your repertoire. It is different and your guests are bound to like it.

It’s pretty simple to make, you just have to make sure the rice is completely cool before you mix it into the other ingredients.  Otherwise, you may end up with a clumpy mess. I also really recommend you use Basmati rice for this dish.  Other short-grain or brown rices will stick together and you won’t be happy with the outcome.

Curried Rice Salad Recipe

Curried Rice Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • ⅔ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati or long-grain rice
  • salt
  • 1 onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • ½ jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and minced (if you like more heat, use the whole chile)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  1. In a small bowl, combine the raisins, lime juice and sugar. Set aside.
  2. Bring 3-4 quarts of water to boil in an extra large pot or dutch oven.  Add the rice and one tablespoon of salt and cook, until tender, stirring occasionally (about 12 minutes). Drain the rice and spread it on a rimmed baking sheet and cool until it is at room temperature.
  3. Combine the onion, jalapeno chile, oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt in the pot.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened (about 8-10 minutes).  Stir in the ginger, curry powder, and garlic.  Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Off the heat, stir in the raisin mixture, then transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
  4. When both the raisin mixture and rice are cool combine them together in the large bowl. Stir in the cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen: Light and Healthy 2010