Summery side dishes... can serve as mains

Mushroom risotto with garlic and thyme (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Mushroom risotto with garlic and thyme
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
As the summer days begin getting hotter and hotter, we want to spend less and less time stuck in the kitchen. Sometimes we prepare a side dish that can actually be used as the main course as long as it includes some protein and is filling. Many grains, legumes and pastas fulfill these criteria and perfectly fit this role. By adding proper seasoning and some fresh vegetables and herbs, you can end up with some incredibly healthy dishes.
Each grain and legume has its own way to be cooked. It’s important not to over- or undercook them, which will make them inedible.
This week, I chose recipes for four side dishes that can also be served as a main course. The first is kidney-bean salad with peppers and celery that is very tasty and colorful. It can also be served with tofu cubes, tuna or feta cheese.
The second dish is mushroom risotto with garlic and thyme. This recipe comes out a little spicy if you prepare it correctly, and it’s perfect topped with Parmesan cheese.
The third recipe is pearl barley, hazelnuts and cauliflower that is light and very different from anything you’ve ever eaten. It’s a unique combination that brings about a surprising flavor.
The last dish is a Bukharan rice recipe with herbs. The original recipe includes pieces of meat, but the vegetarian version, which I’ve included here, is full of good nutrients and is very filling. It is very quick and easy to prepare.
Kidney-bean salad with peppers and celery
Makes 6-8 servings
½ kg. kidney beans, soaked in water overnight then drained
¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped finely
1½ cups parsley leaves, chopped finely
4 red bell peppers, deseeded and cut into small cubes
1 package tofu (regular or spiced), cut into cubes
4 stalks of celery, chopped finely
1 cup champignon mushrooms, sliced
1 cup scallions, chopped finely
1 spicy green pepper, chopped finely
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp. olive oil
5 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Put beans in a pot and cover with water. Cook over a medium flame until soft (don’t overcook). Drain and transfer to a bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients in the order they’re listed and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you so desire, you can add any of the following to your salad: tofu, feta cheese, tuna fish or even stir-fried chicken pieces.
Mushroom risotto with garlic and thyme
Makes 6-8 servings
4 tbsp olive oil
300 gr. mushrooms (any type), sliced
Leaves from 5-6 sprigs of thyme
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
½ cup parsley, chopped
¼ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 shallots, chopped finely
½ celery root, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cups round risotto rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 liter hot vegetable soup stock
50 gr. butter
100 gr. parmesan cheese, grated
To prepare mushrooms, heat olive oil in a large skillet and fry mushrooms. Add the spices and herbs and fry for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the flame.
To prepare the risotto, heat the oil in a skillet and fry shallots with celery. Add the salt, garlic and rice. Mix and then add the wine while stirring. Cook until all the wine has been absorbed.
Add a ladle full of hot soup stock and half of the mushrooms to the risotto. Mix. Then, add a ladle of soup at a time while stirring. Remove from the flame and add the butter, half of the Parmesan cheese and the rest of the mushrooms. Mix gently. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and serve.
If you want the rice to be shiny white, soak it overnight in water with a tiny bit of lemon juice.
Pearl barley with hazelnuts and cauliflower
Makes 4-6 servings
2 cups pearl barley, cooked according to instructions, drained
¾ cup roasted hazelnuts, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 medium cauliflower, separated into small florets
1 cucumber, cut into small cubes
1 pickle, cut into small cubes
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds, optional
3 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
For garnish: Chopped scallions
Place cooked barley in a large bowl. Add the hazelnuts, cauliflower, cucumber, pickle and garlic. Mix and then add the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
If desired, you can add tofu cubes or tuna.
Rice with herbs
Makes 4-6 servings
1½ cups Basmati rice, soaked in water for 2 hours and then drained
5 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. salt
½ cup scallion, chopped
1 cup dill, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup coriander, chopped
¼ cup mint, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ tsp. cloves, ground
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. turmeric
3 Tbsp. water
Cook rice in water for 7 minutes and then drain. Heat oil and fry rice in oil for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover pot with lid wrapped in a towel and turn up flame. Bring to a boil. Lower flame and cook for 30 minutes. Let cool.
Rinse rice with water three times.