Category Archives: sides

Just Like Grandpa Used to…Order In.

Every other Saturday night when I was a kid, my mom and dad would pile my brother and me into the car and drive down to Cicero for supper at my grandpa’s house. Supper at Grandpa’s consisted of whatever he felt like ordering in on that particular evening…one of three things: pizza, White Castle (ew, couldn’t stomach then, can’t stomach them now), or Chinese.

Now, being the picky little girl I was (Dad is convinced if it weren’t for milk and cookies I wouldn’t have made it to my 18th birthday), I would fill my plate with only two things when it was Chinese night. The first was fried rice. What’s not to like about fried rice?! The other were these pan-fried noodles. I can’t even remember what they were called…and I haven’t had anything like them since, but they were crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and I could seriously eat the entire container myself.

When I saw this on the FN recently, I immediately thought of Saturday suppers at Grandpa’s and knew I just had to try it! There is something about crunchy pasta that I just can’t resist! I clamour for the edge pieces of lasagna, I scrape off the top of the baked ziti…I love the crispy, crunchy goodness. It’s technically a side dish, but side dishes as main dishes are a staple in our house! HA! Plus, we had kind of a big lunch, so this was a quick, simple supper. My changes are in italics!

FRIED VERMICELLI AND GREEN ONIONS (Recipe Source: Rachael Ray – Food Network)

1 pound vermicelli (I used about half the box, per some of the reviews who mentioned that they had a hard time getting an entire box to brown up good)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
3 cloves garlic, crushed away from skins
6 scallions, whites and greens, cut into 3-inch pieces then shredded lengthwise (I used 4, I was worried Eric might think it was two onion-y with 6)
20 leaves fresh basil (1 cup), shredded into a chiffonade (I halved the basil too, and added a bit more chopped green onion on top)


Cook vermicelli in salted water to al dente; drain. Heat extra-virgin olive oil and butter with garlic over medium heat and cook garlic until it begins to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove garlic and raise heat. Fry the scallions in the seasoned oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Add well-drained pasta to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Toss the pasta liberally with the scallions and seasoned oil. Place a plate smaller than the pan down over the vermicelli and weight it with a few cans or a heavy skillet. Let the vermicelli brown and crisp up a bit. Remove the skillet and plate and invert onto a serving platter. Garnish with basil.

I had some difficulty inverting the pasta onto my serving platter, probably because my platter wasn’t quite big enough. I got olive oil EVERYWHERE. And, of course, I had a momentary lapse in sanity and tried to do this at the kitchen table over my placemat. Soooo, needless to say, my placemat is probably ruined. It’s soaking now…but I’m not holding out much hope! 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂


Filed under pasta, sides

Couscous with a Kick

My hubby Eric is a meat and potatos kind of guy. Nothing funny, nothing fancy. So you can imagine my frustration when trying to introduce him to new foods. I love to to try new things. New recipes, restaurants and menu items. It makes my otherwise boring life exciting. Every new flavor is like an adventure. Eric, on the other hand, wants to eat what he knows he likes.

One of the things I introduced him to when we got married is couscous. His face was priceless the first time I put it in front of him about 2 years ago. “It’s little pasta balls,” I told him. “What’s not to like?!” He was still skeptical. But, bless his heart, he’ll try whatever I give him because he doesn’t want me to feel bad. Plus, he’d starve if he didn’t. HA! So, surprisingly enough, couscous was added to his list of acceptable foods.

To keep it Eric-friendly, I would prepare it very simply….cooked in chicken broth with a little S&P and a bit of parm cheese and Italian seasoning stirred in. Good…but not good enough.

Since we were grilling steaks on Saturday night, I wanted to find a way to kick it up a notch. This recipe was FANTASTIC. I loved the light flavors and the crunchy veggies. Even Eric enjoyed it. I will never go back to my boring old couscous again, this is SO easy!



  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup NAKANO® Seasoned Rice Vinegar – Original
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  1. In a large saucepan, saute bell pepper, onion and garlic in oil, stirring occasionally until onion is soft, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add rice vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper; cook 1 minute.
  3. Stir in broth and currants; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and spinach; cover and remove from heat.
  4. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff couscous lightly with a fork.

Enjoy! 🙂


Filed under pasta, sides, veggies