Tag Archives: easy side dish

Green beans & pine nuts

easy green bean side dish with nuts

easy green bean side dish with nuts

This is one of my favorite veggie dishes, and if you’re looking for an easy green bean side dish, you found it! This is SO easy to throw together, I actually sometimes make it for a snack! (nom nom nom!)

But it feels just a bit more elegant than an everyday dish. There’s something about the mingling of these four simple ingredients that just works. And it goes great with so many main dishes: fish, grilled steak, pork chops, roasted chicken. Plus, if made with ghee, it’s Paleo and Whole30 friendly!

And when I say it’s simple to “throw together,” I mean it. You won’t need to dirty a single measuring cup or spoon!


Green Beans and Pine Nuts (or Almonds, Pecans, or Walnuts)
Serves 2; scale up as necessary

2 generous handfuls of fresh or frozen green beans

a splash or two of olive oil

a tablespoon or two of butter or ghee (just eyeball the amount)

1 handful of pine nuts — or your choice of slivered almonds, pecan or walnut pieces

several shakes of salt

If using fresh green beans, snap off the ends and break them into pieces of whatever length you like.

Pour water into a small saucepan, to a depth of about 1″; bring to a boil. Add the green beans. If they’re frozen, stir till the water returns to a boil. Turn the heat down a couple notches and simmer until the beans are done to your liking. Recommended: while they are still bright green, but pleasingly tender when you bite one.

Tip: To safely test whether they’re done to your liking, pull one out, lay it on a dish or cutting board, and tap it a couple times with the back of a spoon or another flat utensil, before you taste it. This will force out the steam that may be on the inside and keep you from burning your mouth!

Drain the beans and leave them in the colander for the moment. Return the saucepan to the heat and pour in a bit of olive oil; add the butter and the pine nuts to that. Stir over medium heat, until you can smell the pine nuts, or until they begin to turn toasty brown.

Add the beans back into the pan and stir to coat them with the sauce and the nuts. Add a little salt. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Antipasto salad

antipasto salad

quick easy lunch; 5-minute antipasto salad

Some of my favorite dishes come about as a result of being short on options. This antipasto salad that I had for lunch a couple days ago was one of those — a super quick, easy lunch!

It starts with me standing in front of the open fridge, thinking – Let’s see, what’s on hand? Mixed greens, Genoa salami, mini peppers, a block of Parm. Hmm, I could make an Italian salad out of that. Cut the salami in quarters, slice the peppers very thin, toss that together in a bowl. Shave in some Parmesan, using a vegetable peeler.

This Creamy Italian Dressing would have been nice, but since I didn’t have it on hand, I put 1 T. of red wine vinegar, 2 T. of olive oil, and a tiny squirt of dijon mustard in a baby food jar, and shook that up. Then decided some salt and pepper would be good, too, so added a few dashes of each, and shook it again. Instant vinaigrette!

instant vinaigrette for quick easy salad

Poured that over the salad, and tossed in some pine nuts. These add a bit of crunch and a little bit of sweetness. (If you like olives and have some on hand, that would be a good addition, too.)

Bonus: it’s Paleo-friendly, Whole30 compliant (without the Parm), sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb!

Pretty quick, easy lunch — and doggone good for five minutes and on-the-fly! So good, in fact, it will be showing up as a side dish at dinner tonight. 🙂

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quick, easy lunch; 5-minute antipasto salad

Garlic zoodles (gluten-free noodles)

paleo side dish: garlic zoodles

I thought pasta would be hard to give up. I was wrong. Zucchini noodles — or “zoodles” — are a darn tasty stand-in! And with an inexpensive, easy-to-use spiralizer, they make for a super quick, easy side dish. This one is so quick that I often add it to my lunch, when the main dish hasn’t quite filled me up.

Seriously; it will probably take you longer to read this post than it will to whip up the dish, once you’ve got your stuff lined up.

Another thing that makes this quick and easy is that I don’t measure. All my instructions here are for one serving, but this could easily be scaled up to serve more.


  • zucchini or yellow summer squash
  • butter, olive oil, or the fat of your choice
  • garlic clove(s) – 1 per person
  • salt and pepper
  • optional: Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, fresh basil

First, to make the zucchini noodles. You want these ready before you put anything on the stove.

This is the spiral cutter (or spiralizer) I use:

my favorite spiralizer

I like it because it’s very simple, and doesn’t take up a ton of storage space. You can see it has a smaller chamber for carrots and other thin veggies, and a larger one that works well for zucchini and summer squash.

spiralizer, top view

I got it at BB&B, but you can also order it from the comfort of your own home here!

It’s around $15 at both stores. (Using this link takes you to my store; I get a 4% cut [ha!] without any additional cost to you. But feel free to buy local, too!)

As I said, I won’t be giving measurements, but these before-and-after pics should give you an idea about how much I fix for just myself — probably about a third of a large zucchini:

spiraled zucchini

You can, if you like, gently press them between paper towels to remove some of the moisture, but that’s not essential. Some people recommend salting them to remove more moisture, but I find that just makes them soggier, because it breaks down the cell walls.

You’ll also need to mince one garlic clove.

Then heat a small frying pan over just-under-medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of butter, and an approximate equal amount of olive oil. You could use any alternate fat you like here — I know some people don’t include butter in their Paleo diet — but I really like the flavor combo of these two. I happened to have some basil butter in the freezer today, so that’s what I used, but plain butter is perfectly fine.


Or, as Ina Garten says,


Soon, the butter will begin to bubble. You can throw the zoodles in now, or you can wait a bit till the butter and garlic has browned just a bit. Both are shown here:

butter and garlic in pan

Letting things brown a bit will give a toaster, more complex flavor. You want to be careful, though: once garlic gets too brown, it turns bitter, and there’s nothing to do but throw it out and start over. So if you’re nervous — or just in a big hurry — feel feel to toss the zoodles in as soon as the butter is good and hot.

(Note: I haven’t made this with other fats, so I’m not sure what to expect, browning-wise, from coconut oil or bacon fat.)

Then just toss the noodles with the butter a few times; all you’re really doing is heating them up and softening them a tiny bit. Too long on the heat, and they’ll get mushy. Then taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary.

This shot was from a day when I didn’t let the garlic brown…

easy side dish: zoodles


And this is when I did:

paleo side dish: garlic zoodles

The second shot also has a sprinkling of black pepper and a few snips of fresh basil.

And here’s another day’s shot, with a little bit of Parm on top:

zoodles with parmesan

Pine nuts would be another nice addition!

How do you like your zoodles?