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versatility to the max!


My darling daughter, Marissa, requested I post some yummy and easy sides. How about an outline – sort of a guide on how to make quick improvisational sides anytime you want? I made this dish with what I had on hand in my produce drawers. You begin by gathering your hard vegetables together; such as onion, carrots, celery, bell peppers, fennel, parsnips, squash, etc. Clean and chop.


Next, pull out your soft vegetables; things as spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, leftover cooked potatoes, etc., and prep them. Sauté the hard vegetables together until soft, add in the soft veggies, and season, that’s all there is to it! You can add in other items too, such as canned drained beans, chickpeas, frozen corn, chopped olives, or artichoke hearts…getting the idea?


Once you have the vegetables cooked, use them in pasta, salads, quesadillas, wraps, or on their own as a nutritious, colorful side dish.  I like to keep a small bowl on hand to add to scrambled eggs for a quick, satisfying, and “no-brainer” breakfast. (because who wants to think too hard in the morning?)

Here, I am adding them to some brown rice as a side. Instead of the rice, mix it up by serving on top of couscous or quinoa. Also pictured at the bottom, I’ve chilled the rice and veggie mixture, and formed it into patties (mix in a tablespoon or two of sour cream, mayonnaise, beaten egg, crème fraîche, or soft cream cheese to help bind the mixture, if needed). Bread the patty with a mixture of Parmesan cheese and panko, chill the breaded rice cakes for a couple of hours, then cook in a little olive oil, to brown and crisp them, and serve on their own or with a bit of hot marinara sauce. Versatile, right?

Versatile Sautéed Vegetables and Brown Rice

1/2 cup brown rice
1 1/4 cups of water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  cup  chopped onion
1  cup  diced red bell pepper
1/2  cup  diced celery
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced spinach leaves
1 cup sliced basil leaves
3 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped

To slice leafy greens and herbs such as the spinach and basil, stack the leaves and roll, then thinly slice... this is a chiffonade.

To slice leafy greens and herbs such as spinach and basil, stack the leaves and roll, then thinly slice… this is a chiffonade.

Place rice and water in a rice cooker or in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Stir to combine, turn on the rice cooker and let it do its magic. Or in a saucepan, bring to a boil, turn down to a low simmer, put on the lid, and allow to cook for about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.


In the meantime, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, then the hard vegetables; in this case – the onion, peppers, celery, and garlic; sauté for 4 or 5 minutes, until tender. Season with salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.


Next stir in the soft vegetables; the spinach, basil, and tomatoes; sauté for about 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

Serves 4

rice cakes

Veggie-Rice cakes with marinara sauce

quick and colorful breakfast

quick and colorful breakfast

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1 Marissa { 01.24.10 at 8:26 PM }

Very beautiful pictures!!!!

2 Sharon { 01.25.10 at 10:22 AM }

You are a wonderful teacher. Thank you for posting so many things that educate your readers and fans. I’m sure I’m not your only blog follower that needs posts like this. Have a great day!

3 Linda Hopkins { 01.25.10 at 11:48 AM }

Marissa and Sharon, thanks for your sweet and encouraging comments! 🙂

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