side dishes

Stir fried Chinese Long Beans

When you discover something like Chinese Long Beans at your Tennessee farmers market I think you are obligated to give them a try, don’t you think?

Often called yard long beans they are a bit closer to a half yard long but even that is significant enough to make the common green bean a bit jealous.

A quick search for recipes yielded this recipe for Stir Fried Yard Long Beans. It’s the type of recipe that Neal loves best since it sends him to the Indian grocery searching out ingredients we’ve never before encountered like curry leaves and asafetida powder.

Curry leaves are interesting things. The texture reminds me a bit of a holly leaf and the flavor is decidedly smokey. It bears no resemblance to actual curry powder.

The night before we made this dish I began to notice an unusual smell in the kitchen. I was finally able to pinpoint the cabinet it was coming from and we began pulling everything out, trying to figure out what was spoiling. It was puzzling since that cabinet is primarily canned goods and dried grains. And then we noticed the jar of asafetida powder. ohmygoodness! Now I know why it is also called devil’s dung. It’s a pretty indescribable smell except to say you can’t imagine actually voluntarily adding it to your dinner. But, add it in we did! I’m happy to say that you don’t notice the smell in the cooked dish. I’d be interested to try the beans with and without the powder to know what it added. The recipe only called for a pinch so I now have several ounces in the cabinet awaiting experimentation. We were at the Indian grocery again this weekend and the man who checked us out said he adds a pinch to pretty much everything he cooks. Hmm…not sure I’m that adventurous.

The beans were delicious and pretty reminiscent of green beans in texture.


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Cherry Tomato Salad

Summer is here in full force with 100+ degree temps! At times like these turning on the oven should be outlawed. Thank goodness for the tomatoes! They need little other than chopping to be a quick, cooling side dish.

These are Sungold and Black Cherry tomatoes from Signal Mountain Farm. I tossed them with a bit of goat cheese from Bonnie Blue Farm and some basil from the yard. Let it sit for just a few minutes so the flavors can meld together and that’s it! A quick piece of fish or chicken would finish this off nicely.


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Squash Casserole

Squash casserole was the highlight of our high school lunches. It was a pretty typical southern recipe that involved boiled squash and a good, buttery cracker topping. A friend gave me a recipe from Southern Living a few years back and it replicated what I remembered pretty well.

However, I now want a slightly healthier version (healthy squash casserole…an oxymoron, perhaps?). I used the Southern Living recipe as a (very) loose base. I started with about 2 lbs of squash that I chopped to a fine dice and cooked in the skillet with onion and red bell pepper. Boiling leeches so many of the nutrients from a vegetable and I also thought it might be nice to keep the integrity of the squash and not boil it into mush.

This squash is from Signal Mountain Farm.

Let the squash mixture cool for a bit and then mix with 2 eggs and just a bit of mayo (maybe 1/8 of a cup) and some sharp cheddar cheese.  Spoon this into a casserole dish and bake at 350  for about 30 minutes.

Yep, I skipped the topping all together. Just doesn’t seem necessary.

What you get is part squash casserole and part squash custard. Not your traditional casserole by any means but a (slightly) healthier, very tasty adaptation!

(It’s not the most photogenic dish but I wanted you to see the texture)


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Brussels Sprouts

Until recently I had never seen Brussels sprouts on the stalk. I’m pretty sure I had no idea that’s how these baby cabbages grew. I like cabbage a lot.  I can’t seem to muster up quite such strong feelings for the Brussels sprout, but I’m trying! This is the best way I’ve found to cook them. Probably because it involves bacon 🙂

The freshest Brussels are going to be found still on the stalk. Check out your stalk to make sure you have enough to actually make a serving. There are not always as many Brussels on the stalk as you think. We got just enough for 2 servings from this stalk. These Brussels came from Signal Mountain Farm.

Start by cooking some bacon in the skillet. While that’s cooking, slice the Brussels off the stalk and then cut in half through the stem end. Remove the bacon from the skillet and add the Brussels and diced onion. (You may want to skim some of the bacon fat off first, depending on how fatty the bacon was). Cook until the onions and Brussels are nice and brown. Dice the bacon and add it back to the skillet and you’re done!


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Roasted Cheddar Cauliflower

My grandfather swears that he went to school with 2 girls named Ellie Fant and Emma Tate. I’ve never quite been able to decide if he was teasing me or not. Surely not, I thought, but then I changed schools and there was a girl named Callie Flowers. Maybe people really don’t say names out loud before they sign the birth certificate.

Can you guess what vegetable we had for dinner this week? 🙂

I have terrible, nightmare inducing memories of being forced to eat a plate of cauliflower covered in melted velveeta cheese. I’m trying to repair my relationship with cauliflower but it just isn’t going so well. However, my husband says this was a great way to cook it so I’ll spare you my opinion since I’m apparently biased.

We got this cheddar cauliflower from Signal Mountain Farm. It doesn’t taste any different from the usual white variety but it is a bit prettier.

Toss the cauliflower with oil and salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Roast at 415 degrees for about 30 minutes (really, just roast to your liking). Quick and easy and, if you like cauliflower, I understand it’s delicious! 😉


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Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Beets are one of those newly discovered vegetables for me. I’ve never really eaten them before the last few years but I have fallen hard for them. I especially like when I can get a vegetable in a variety of colors so when I saw these golden and red beets hanging out together at the market at the Signal Mountain Farm table I had to have them. As fate would have it the next booth I walked by was Bonnie Blue Farm where they have the best goat cheese (which, coincidentally, has also become an obsession this summer). The goat cheese made its way into my basket with thoughts of a beet and goat cheese salad floating through my head.

I’ve never actually made a beet and goat cheese salad but that’s why I have all those cooking apps on my phone, right? As is my usual recipe style, this is a hodge-podge of several recipes. I started by drizzling the (clean) beets with a bit of grape seed oil, wrapping them in foil, and roasting for about an hour at 425 degrees. Let them cool enough to handle and then peel and dice them. If you are using golden and red beets then you should try to keep them separate so the red beets don’t stain the golden. Red beets are awfully aggressive and your kitchen will be a great setting for a murder movie after you finish peeling and dicing.

Now, at this point you can just toss the beets with the goat cheese and chow down. However, one of the recipes I was using was a layered salad so I decided to fancy things up a bit. You need a mold about 2 inches wide and however tall you want the salad. Layer the beets and goat cheese, pressing down between layers to help it hold together.

You can certainly do as many layers as you like but the taller it gets, they harder time you will have keeping it upright. Slowly pull the mold off and there you have a stacked beet and goat cheese salad! If you’ve never had beets and goat cheese together I can assure you they were meant to be. Seriously good stuff.


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Spiced Okra

I’ve spent most of my life under the impression that okra can only be consumed fried. I thought I really wasn’t an okra fan but it turns out I’m just not a fan of fried okra. This is basically a stir fried okra that requires little prep and no frying.  And, let me go ahead and answer your next question…no, it is not slimy! I think that it gets slimier the more it gets cooked. This is a very quick cooking method that leaves the okra with a bit of crunch and no slime.

This okra came from the Sunday Market from a vendor who, unfortunately, does not have a named booth.

Simply cut off the top and slice the okra with a bias cut. I just did these in half but in hindsight, thirds might have been a better way to go.

In a wok or large skillet toast some mustard seeds. You will know when the mustard seeds are toasted because they begin to pop. Be warned, a warm just toasted mustard seed can pop clear across the kitchen! Add a bit of oil and the okra and let it cook for a few minutes. Add your spices next and stir to coat all the okra. We used curry powder but I think 5 spice powder would be really good as well. Cook until your desiredness. All in all this dish cooks about 10 minutes.


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Indoor Grilled Yellow Squash

Yes, I’ll admit it. I still have a George Foreman grill that I pull out from time to time! It’s great for a wrap sandwich and for squash. (really, lots of veggies would work with this method). This is squash from Hazelrig Farm.

Simply slice your squash, brush with oil and sprinkle on your seasoning. We used Cavenders, a Mediterranean seasoning.

Cook for 4 minutes per side on the grill. Simple and delicious!


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Saucy Green Beans

This is my favorite way to cook green beans. I think the original recipe called them Chinese Style green beans but around here, they’ve just become known as “those really good green beans with the sauce”. Who needs a fancy name?!

These green beans are from the market but I can’t recall the farm.

Start by “topping and tailing” your beans. (I adore this phrase and, just so you know, it’s best  said in a British accent 😉 )

Cook your green beans in a mix of butter and oil. The butter helps you get good browning. We used butter from Eileen the cow over at Bonnie Blue Farm

Let your been cook on medium for about 10 minutes or until they get lots of really good browning. Add the sauce which is equal parts soy sauce, honey and water. Once you pour the sauce on, turn the heat off and stir well. You might want to wear an oven mitt, it can get a bit steamy!




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Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scapes are a wonderful, fleeting spring experience. I’ve always used them pretty simply – chopped on top of a pizza, under a roasted chicken, stir fried with other veggies.  I decided to try scape pesto this year. This is based on the recipe by Dorie Greenspan which seems to be the scape pesto recipe of choice. Next time I think I might use walnuts. It’s delicious as is but walnuts just seem like they would be perfect. These scapes are from Sheerlark Farm.

Start by chopping your  scapes and almonds. Add that along with some grated Parmesan to the food processor and pulse together. Drizzle in olive oil with the machine running until you are happy with the consistency. That’s it! Simple and delicious! You can store in the fridge for a few days or freeze in small batches to use later.

It is a gorgeous bright, springy green. It will work for chips, pasta, pizza….just about anything!


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