Category: Sides

zaru soba

dipping noodles in the sauce

Four years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Japan for the first time. Adam’s band was performing at the Fuji Rock Festival, high in the mountains three hours north of Tokyo. After the last show, the rest of the group went home while the two of us ventured around the country for ten days, falling completely in love with the Japanese people and their inspiring culture. We took bullet trains to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and Hiroshima, traveling across the countryside, spending a few days in each city, visiting pristine gardens and ancient Buddhist temples, while learning where to find the best vegetarian meals and how to properly ask for them. Throughout the day, we often found ourselves saying, “watashi wa bejitarian desu,” hoping they would understand that we were politely communicating, “I am vegetarian.” We snacked on inari (sweet tofu pockets filled with sushi rice), we lived off onigiri with umeboshi (white rice triangles wrapped in seaweed with a sour plum center), we found unique tiny restaurants on hidden side streets serving bowls of hot udon noodles, ramen, and miso soup, we tried a savory pancake called okonomiyaki, sampled multiple flavors of sweet mochi candies, and discovered a delicious noodle dish called zaru soba. This light and refreshing entree quickly became our go-to meal in Japan, and since it is served cold, it makes a perfect summertime dinner that is easy to prepare and fun to eat!

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easy corn salad with sriracha and lime

easy corn salad with sriracha and lime

Do you hear that? Kids laughing and splashing in the pool, vegetarian burgers sizzling on the barbecue, cool ice cubes clinking in glasses of fruity sangria, a golden retriever slurping from his water bowl, your favorite tunes playing in the background. These are the relaxing sounds of summer which unofficially starts this Memorial Day weekend. We are ready for it and so are the local grocery stores and farmers markets which have already begun over-stocking their shelves with fresh summer produce like sweet juicy peaches and tangy heirloom tomatoes. Dust off your flip-flops, get out your sunscreen and bathing suits (our apologies if you may have gone up a size or two), and let us celebrate warmer weather, school-less beach days, tropical vacation getaways, romantic evening walks, roasting s’mores outdoors, and spending more time with friends and family. Today we would like to welcome this bountiful season with a delicious, crisp corn salad that is a little sweet, a little spicy, and perfect for all your entertaining needs.

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tabbouleh

tabbouleh

It mIght be obvious to you that we have a slight obsession with sweets. Okay, perhaps it’s a little more than slight—it’s pretty severe. But there is just something so satisfying about them! I mean, who wouldn’t want to start their day by pouring hot chocolatey nutella syrup over crispy banana waffles first thing in the morning? After a breakfast like that, it’s basically guaranteed that the rest of your day will be spectacular. Life is full of bountiful pleasures like these, and it’s important to treat yourself to sumptuous breakfasts from time to time! We are not saying that you should then go have cake for lunch and ice cream for dinner, but keeping a diverse mix of sweet and healthy is important. When we were planning this month’s blog schedule, we realized that four out of the last five recipes we posted were desserts and the fifth one was a cocktail. So today we are balancing things out and sharing one of our favorite Mediterranean side dishes, a delicious and healthy cold salad, perfect for all your spring and summer entertaining needs. Say hello to tabbouleh.

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tostones with spicy mango salsa

tostones with spicy mango salsa

Having our ten-year old niece stay with us this week was a bonding experience that we will always remember. Beneath clear sunny skies we ventured around the city, admiring the vibrant spring blooms that brighten this grand metropolis. We escaped high into the hills, surrounded by fragrant Eucalyptus trees, stopping by the Griffith Observatory for an evening at the museum as well as a fascinating show on Northern Lights at the Planetarium. We visited the Long Beach aquarium, went swimming at the house where Adam grew up, and spent quality time in our garden preparing the soil and planting tomatoes, basil, kale, and zucchini. We cooked together and swapped kitchen tips: we taught her how to separate eggs for matzo ball soup, and she showed us her recipe for strawberry-ginger lemonade using freshly-picked fruit from our lemon tree. The entire week was filled with memories that we will cherish forever, and since we dropped her off at the airport yesterday afternoon, the house feels quiet without her. But we are jumping right back into the kitchen and are excited to announce our first double post with a fellow blogger! Together with Apartment Bartender, we are sharing two tropical-inspired recipes for all your Spring entertaining needs! Check out the refreshing Mango Cooler cocktail he created at apartmentbartender.com, while we introduce you to a sweet and savory appetizer that is a delicious and colorful companion for his bubbly tonic: Tostones with spicy mango salsa!

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asparagus soup with chile-spiced asparagus tips

asparagus soup with chile-spiced asparagus tips

It is a magical time of year in Southern California. The skies are clear and a brilliant blue from the recent rains, the temperatures are comfortable, and in the evenings the sweet scent of jasmine fills the air. Vibrant wildflowers paint the neighborhoods with their beautiful Spring blooms, multi-colored bougainvillea vines illuminate the hills with deep pinks and purples, and the deciduous plum trees that were bare throughout the winter are now covered in white flowers and buzzing with honey bees. We have been taking advantage of this pleasant weather, spending more time outside, and enjoying working in the garden. This weekend, we had a backyard brunch party with ten of our friends; a potluck feast of crisp salads, spring berries, handcrafted cocktails from our mixologist friend Al who introduced us to the light and bubbly Mid-Morning Fizz, and the centerpiece was a double batch of our shakshuka with crusty baguettes for dipping into the hearty sauce. There’s something special about sharing a meal outdoors with friends and family, and this is the time of year to do it before it starts to get too hot. Love is in the air, spring has arrived, and so has asparagus, whose tender shoots are one of the first spring vegetables to appear after the snows of winter. This delicious and comforting soup highlights this seasonal vegetable with simple ingredients that allow the fresh, sweet flavor of just-picked asparagus to truly shine.

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