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Halfway Homemade: Easy Holiday Side Dishes

Quinoa Risotto

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed with hot water in a mesh strainer
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
  • 2 cups arugula, chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake or white-button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas (if frozen, thaw)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large, nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent (4-5 minutes). Add quinoa and stir for 1 minute. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is still firm, but not hard. (10-12 minutes). Stir in arugula, mushrooms, and peas. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 5-8 minutes. (Quinoa grains will become clear.) Stir in cheese; season with black pepper.

Serves 6

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

Calories: 220

Fat: 7.49

Carbs 28g

Protein 12g

Why you’ll love it. Traditional risotto is made with rice, but quinoa adds a rich texture. It’s gluten-free, packed with protein, iron, and magnesium, and perfect for vegetarians.

Make it easier. Use pre-grated cheese or no cheese at all. Swap arugula for greens you have on hand, like spinach or kale.

Beet and Arugula Salad With Farmer Cheese

  • 4 peeled and steamed beets (available vacuum-packed in produce aisle)
  • 1 package (5 ounces) baby arugula
  • 1 cup crumbled farmer cheese
  • Balsamic glaze (sold near vinegars in grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Combine ingredients. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.

Serves 6

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

Calories: 173

Fat: 9.8 g

Carbs: 9.9g

Protein 10.9g

Why you’ll love it. “I love farmer cheese. It’s milder than other cheeses and lower in fat,” Lieberman says. Low-fat, low-sodium, folate-rich beets add nutrition, flavor, and a pop of beautiful, burgundy color.

Make it easier. Find farmer cheese in the dairy case, near cottage cheese. No luck? Use goat cheese. No time for toasting? Skip the nuts.

(BONUS) Easiest Side Dish Ever: Whole Wheat Couscous

You can buy it in a box. “It’s an instant side dish,” says Lieberman. To make it exceptional, follow package directions but swap water for reduced-sodium broth, and add scallions and parsley before the couscous. “When it’s done, fluff it with a fork and serve,” she says.

Serves 8

Nutritional Facts Per Serving:

Calories: 155

Fat: 1g

Carbs: 31g

Protein 6g

Reviewed on November 27, 2013

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