Collard greens with bacon

Collard greens with bacon
Collard greens with bacon (pictured with smoked pulled pork)

Ever since we got a grill, we’ve been eating a lot more barbeque. And smoked meats lend themselves to delicious Southern sides — including coleslaw, mac and cheese, and collard greens. Last Sunday, Michael smoked a rack of spareribs, so I decided to make these collard greens, which are one of my favorites, as a side. (We ate the leftovers with pulled pork, as pictured above.)

These collards are especially delicious because they’re sauteed in bacon grease with plenty of onions and garlic. I’ve also successfully used fresh kale as a substitute for the collard greens in this recipe (on a side note, spinach is not an appropriate substitute, because it doesn’t have enough structure to stand up to cooking, and will turn into a mushy mess). I will note that you need to simmer the greens for 30-45 minutes, so you may want to try this recipe on the weekend when you have a little extra time.

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Tangy cabbage and broccoli coleslaw

Tangy cabbage and broccoli coleslaw
Tangy cabbage and broccoli coleslaw

This refreshing, vinegar-based coleslaw is my new favorite summer side dish. Michael found this recipe a couple months ago when we were looking for something to go with Jamaican jerk chicken. I made a couple small tweaks to the recipe, and we like it so much that I’ve made it at least once a week since.

I usually make this recipe with finely shredded cabbage (a mix of red and green cabbage looks nice), but it’s also delicious with a mix of cabbage and broccoli slaw, as long as you still use 6 cups total. Either way, you’ll want to refrigerate the slaw for at least one hour (or overnight) before serving. It’s delicious alongside any grilled meat or picnic meal. Enjoy!

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Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar

Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar
Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar

By the time summer finally rolls around here in the Twin Cities, I’m craving fresh, delicious vegetables. One of my favorite — and easiest —  ways to eat them is in a big salad. The great thing about this type of salad is that you can vary the ingredients based on what veggies you have on hand, and you don’t need to measure anything. I usually like to add some sort of cheese and diced meat to make a complete meal, but you could easily omit both to make a vegan side salad.

Instead of making or buying dressing, I keep things light by drizzling oil and vinegar over the salad. My favorite combination right now is a peach balsamic vinegar with Arbequina olive oil — both from Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars (online store and several locations in Michigan).

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Cobb salad with homemade lemon vinaigrette

Cobb salad with homemade lemon vinaigrette
Cobb salad with homemade lemon vinaigrette

I’ve made Cobb salad several times this spring (and finally summer), and it’s a great main dish salad. Wikipedia tells me that the best way to remember the ingredients in Cobb salad is with the mnemonic EAT COBB: Eggs, Avocado, Tomato, Chicken, (green) Onion, Bacon, and Blue cheese.  I usually end up making a couple changes from that (like ham instead of bacon), but it’s still delicious!

The salad dressing for this recipe is also fabulous. We haven’t been buying salad dressing at the store lately — most of it has high-fructose corn syrup in it, and if it doesn’t it’s simple enough to make myself. The fresh tang of the lemon makes this a great dressing for summer salads.

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