Archive for the ‘Side Dish’ Category



How is it the end of January already?? I’ve hardly had time to declare my New Year’s Resolutions, let alone live up to them, and the first month of the year is already over. How did January fly by so fast? Maybe it’s the three (THREE!!) sports teams we’re catering for now (LA Galaxy, LA Kings and the regional NFL Combine)….that probably has a little something to do with what’s kept us so busy 🙂 All I know is that at the end of each day I’ve found myself standing in front of my fridge, holding the door open and staring blankly inside willing dinner to magically appear. While there hasn’t been any time for meal planning, I did manage to set one New Year’s Resolution that’s kept dinner on the table this whole month. My goal was to use up as many things as possible from my freezer and pantry — a kind of clean sweep for the new year. This has actually been a life-saver throughout this busy month. Less trips to the store and less meals out has kept me focused on fast and creative dishes at home. And I’ve been eating pretty well, too! There were those lovely rib-eye steaks I pulled from the freezer and grilled with a spice-rub made from the odds and ends of my spice cabinet (it may not be Summer, be we’re still grilling in the Southland!). There was that pint of chili from last Fall that went from freezer to table alongside some millet muffins one night. There was a toss of  artichoke raviolis, sun-dried tomato chicken sausage and toasted pinenuts, all rescued from the freezer.

While it’s been fun to clean out my freezer (turns out I had a lot of good stuff in there!!), I really needed to weed out my pantry. So I’ve baked some bread to use up a multitudes of flours and made many versions of hummus using up canned beans (turns out a mix of cannelini and pinto beans made a great dip!!). This weekend I’ll be making a rainbow-of-colors-lentil-soup thanks to the five different kinds of lentils I have (why did I save only 1/4 cup of lentils in each bag?? we’ll never know…).

My best a-ha moment came when faced with three tiny bags — one with a small handful of quick-cooking bulghur, one with orzo and one with quinoa. Frustrated and unsure what to make with such small quantities, I decided to throw caution to the wind, cook them all together and make a pilaf. And guess what? It worked!! Not only did the grains all cook in the same time, but the side dish I threw together was delicious. With the help of a little caramelized onions, toasted almonds and fresh parsley, this pilaf couldn’t have been better if I planned it. Here’s what I did:

Pantry Pilaf

makes about 4 servings

1 tbl butter

olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced small (I used a red onion but any onion or shallot or even scallions would work)

1 tsp ground corriander

1/3 cup slivered almonds (or your favorite nut)

1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup quick-cooking bulghur (Trader Joes has this now….or look for “fine bulghur” in other grocery stores)

1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

1/3 cup chopped parsley

salt and pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and a small drizzle of olive oil. Add the onions and cook until they soften and just begin to turn golden. Add the nuts and corriander. Cook for 3-4 more minutes until almonds are fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a 4-quart pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a small handful of salt. Add the orzo, quinoa and bulghur. Stir and simmer for 10-12 minutes until all of the grains are soft. Drain, shake dry and dump all of the cooked grains into the skillet. Place the skillet back over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until grains are all coated with onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley. Serve warm.

Have fun raiding your pantry!


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