Tag Archive for Peas

Menu for Special Dietary Needs : Interfaith Group of 66

Menu for special dietary needs

About a month ago, I was approached by the director of an interfaith group called World Pilgrims to see if McNack’s was interested in catering a dinner for their group. Although we don’t typically cater, the group was so interesting, we decided to make an exception. See, this organization brings together folks from many different religions so that they may work together to better understand each other’s religious views and go on joint pilgrimages together. The group consists of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and more.

With this combination of religions came a fairly long list of special dietary needs. Certainly no beef or pork. About a dozen in the group kept Kosher. A few vegans also. Oh, and one allergic to garlic!

Denise and I put our heads together and came up with this great meal. We served 66 delightfully appreciative pilgrims without dairy, beef, pork, fish (they had that at their last meeting), or garlic! And it still tasted good!! How about that?!

Menu for special dietary needs:

dietary restrictions Denise in the kitchen[/caption]

Peas and Asparagus: An awesome recipe with asparagus

recipe with asparagus

I’m always trying to think of new ways to prepare some of my family’s favorite green vegetables. Somehow, I’ve been lucky enough to have a family who loves asparagus. I have a great cold salad recipe for snow peas and asparagus (I need to make that and post it sometime!), so I thought a warm side dish with regular peas might be nice too. Plus, it was my turn to bring a green vegetable for my monthly potluck dinner with a group of friends and I thought this recipe with asparagus would do the trick.

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 20min; Cook Time – 10-12 min

Ingredients for about 20:

3 bunches of asparagus

16oz frozen peas

3T butter, divided

2 shallots, diced

1 T Dried basil

2t red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

drizzle of olive oil

How to make peas and asparagus:

Finely dice the shallots and add to a large skillet with 1 T of the butter. Saute until tender.

While they are sautéing, cut the bottom 1-2 inches off of your asparagus and discard. Then, slicing on a bias, cut the asparagus into small, pea sized pieces.

When the shallots are tender, add the remaining 2 T butter, asparagus, olive oil and spices. Stir to incorporate everything together and cover on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Uncover, add the frozen peas, stir and cover again for about 5 more minutes. Check the tenderness of the asparagus and cook for a couple of more minutes or until desired tenderness. Serve and enjoy.

Since I was going to a potluck, they had to hold for about an hour. I loosely covered with foil so the steam would not stay in and keep cooking them. They tasted great luke warm too!

Important Tips:

Cutting the asparagus on a bias will make them ‘prettier’. Not sure what a bias is? Watch our video!


Make frozen peas taste better

Frozen green peas are almost always in my freezer as I’m not a fan of the canned ones. Peas are a vegetable that can be ready in minutes and are kid friendly and are difficult to get ‘fresh’ and not worth the time to shell them yourself. They add great texture to a salad and color to a casserole. But when you serve them just as a side dish, they have no flavor!

So, how do you make frozen peas taste better – simple cook them in vegetable or chicken stock!

You’ll appreciate the difference! You should really do this with almost any vegetable you are not steaming, roasting, or grilling!

better taste


Indian Rice with spices and garden peas

rice dish

Rice is a great go to side dish for so many meals. I love it. But once again, my eyes were opened wider to a whole new realm of rice as a side dish after McNack’s spent time with Asha Gomez, chef/owner at Cardamom Hill restaurant in Atlanta.

Indian rice is its own star to the main meal. When we went to the market, Asha picked up some freshly shelled garden peas (field peas and lady peas) to add to the rice. But that is only a small piece to this beautiful, fragrant and tasty dish!!

See our previous post on our time with Asha here.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate Time Required: Prep Time – 5 min; Cook Time – 30 min


2 cups basmati rice

4 cups water

3-4 whole cardamom pods, crushed (I did not have so I used about 2t ground cardamom)

2-3 whole star anise (I did not have so I used about 1t anise seed that I ground in my mortar and pestle)

1 cup onion, diced

2-3 cups fresh ‘peas’ (Asha used lady, field and green peas; I used what I found fresh which was black-eyed peas and then added edamame and green peas)

2t cumin seed

1t tumeric

1T coconut oil

salt and pepper

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

A Mortar and Pestle to crush any whole spices you use.

How to Make Indian Rice:


In southwestern India, they rarely if ever just make plain rice. They always flavor the cooking liquid with something. In this dish, we are going to flavor the water with cardamom and star anise.

So, in a large pot, add 4 cups water, 2 cups of basmati rice the cardamom, star anise, salt and a touch of vegetable oil. Turn on high. While you are waiting for it to boil (uncovered), start the vegetables. When the rice boils, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover. Set a timer for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, turn off the heat, keep covered (don’t look at it!), and let steam for 8 minutes.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 T vegetable oil and the cumin seed. When the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add the diced onion. Saute until golden brown.

spice rice

Add the peas and stir. Add the turmeric and sauté to desired doneness. Finish with the coconut oil and stir.

spice rice

When the rice is steamed to perfection, open the pot, add the vegetables and stir to incorporate.

rice dish

Delicious goodness!!

Important Tips:

Ignore the cooking directions on the bag of basmati. Do it this way and it will be great.


Use any vegetables, use any spices, change your cooking liquid from water to broth….Whatever you do, let rice shine!! It does not need to be that boring clump of white stuff on your plate any more!!

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