Meat on the Side: Delicious Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day

Meat on the Side: Delicious Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day

by Nikki Dinki


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250067166
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 125,817
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

NIKKI DINKI stole the spotlight on Food Network's Food Network Star, where she rose to the top as she showcased her exciting vegetable-focused recipes. Now she is cooking up healthy versions of classic comfort food on her new TV show Junk Food Flip, which airs on Cooking Channel.

Read an Excerpt

Meat on The Side

Delicious Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day

By Nikki Dinki, Ellen Silverman

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Nikki Dinki
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-7519-7


Breakfast + Brunch

Turnip Tortilla Pie


500 [arrow down] | FF | 50/50

You may have seen a turnip a hundred times at the grocery store, but there is a good chance you have never actually picked up one of these white and purple striped guys, or if you have gone home with some you may have thought your only options were to keep them simple and mash or roast them. But what about creating something totally new? What about taking an omelet, stuffing it with this cabbage-like veggie and a touch of salty ham, and sandwiching it between two tortillas so you can pick it up with your hands and bite right into its eggy, hearty deliciousness? I'm calling this new thing a "Tortilla Pie"; feel free to simply call it "Awesome."

4 ounces Swiss cheese
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 small Vidalia onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 small turnip, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
4 large eggs
¼ cup 1 percent milk
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions, plus more for garnish
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces ham, cut into ½-inch cubes (about ½ cup)
1½ cups cherry tomatoes
Two 8-inch flour tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Shred half the cheese (to yield about ½ cup) and cut the remaining cheese into ½-inch cubes (you should have about ½ cup of these, too). Set aside.

3. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in an 8-inch nonstick oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, turnip, and ½ teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. Whisk together the eggs, milk, scallions, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl until frothy and very well combined. Stir the ham and the cubed cheese into the skillet with the vegetable mixture. Immediately pour the egg mixture over the top. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the eggs are set and the whole mixture is firm, 25 to 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Heat a small skillet over high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook until they burst open and become charred in spots, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Toast the tortillas by holding each with tongs over the flame of a gas burner until charred, about 10 seconds per side. If you do not have a gas stove, heat a dry medium skillet over high heat. Place the tortillas in the hot skillet, one at a time, cooking until brown spots form on the bottom, about 5 seconds. Flip and cook the opposite side in the same way.

6. Place 1 tortilla on a serving plate or cutting board and sprinkle half the shredded cheese over the top. Transfer the turnip pie onto this tortilla and sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over it; then top it with the second tortilla. Mound the tomatoes on top, scatter with a few scallions, and cut the pie into wedges. Serve hot.

Keep It Simple

Here are some easy substitutions: Sub mozzarella or cheddar for the Swiss cheese and a white or yellow onion for the Vidalia. Replace the 1 percent milk with whole, 2 percent, or skim, and the ham with bacon or turkey. This recipe is all about using whatever you have on hand!


If your kids like eggs they will love this; it's kind of a big omelet with tortillas around it. The turnips are mild in taste, but cutting them smaller can help them meld into the eggs and stay hidden.


For a half vegetarian, half meat pie, wait until the eggs are in the pan to add the ham and then sprinkle the ham over half the pie. For a totally vegetarian version you can simply omit the ham; the turnips make for a hearty pie without it.

Tomato Tart with Gruyère + Thyme


500 [arrow down] | FF | Make It Meaty

With my first garden I quickly learned that though I couldn't imagine it, those scrawny looking 1-inch tomato seedlings do in fact end up being 6 feet or taller. Along with size comes many, MANY tomatoes. This, of course, isn't a bad thing, but considering most nights it's just me and my husband at the dinner table, we suddenly had one tomato too many, or actually, twenty too many. For dinner one summer night, I knew I didn't want to shop or make anything complicated. I wanted something light, tasty, and it absolutely HAD to involve tomatoes. Well, this tart is simple, tasty, and great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. It almost makes me wish we had more tomatoes, almost. Live, learn, and eat lots of tomatoes.

3 medium tomatoes (about 1½ pounds)
Prepared crust for one 9-inch pie (not baked)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1½ cups shredded Gruyère cheese (6 ounces)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 hot pepper (jalapeño, Fresno, or cherry pepper), seeds and ribs removed, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Cut the tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Take out as much of the seeds and juice as you can. Lay the rounds on paper towels and cover with more paper towels, pressing gently so the towels absorb as much moisture as possible. Repeat the process with fresh paper towels, the dryer the tomatoes the better. (If you're using heirloom tomatoes that are difficult to seed, just try to get out as much moisture as you can with the paper towels.)

3. Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate and trim the edge even with the top of the pan. Spread the mustard evenly over the bottom of the crust and then spread the cheese over it. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese in a single layer (it's fine to overlap them a bit where necessary). Sprinkle the tomatoes with the salt and then the thyme. Sprinkle the chopped hot pepper over the top.

4. Bake the tart in the preheated oven until the cheese has melted, the tomatoes look slightly shriveled, and the crust is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the tart to a wire rack to set for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut it into wedges and serve.

Keep It Simple

• This tart is really about using your favorite things. The Gruyère can easily be replaced with a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan, or mozzarella alone for a subtler flavor, or Parmesan alone for a more aggressive one. You can replace the thyme with your favorite herb — basil, parsley, and even rosemary are great options.

• No hot peppers around? Try sprinkling ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes over the top instead.

• Get a jump on it: Because of the baking time, technically this is not a 10-in-20 meal, but if you use premade pie crust you can whip it up, ready for the oven, in less than 10 minutes. Even better, you can put the tart together up to 6 hours ahead of time and then cover it and store in the fridge. When baking, give it an extra 5 to 10 minutes.

• Can't find a pan? Make a free-form galette (see here) and skip the pan entirely.


Though there are some more adult flavors in this tart, they are all subtle and, at the end of the day, it's pretty much a pizza with tomatoes and cheese. Don't think the kids will go for it? Try mozzarella instead of Gruyère, skip the hot peppers, and add a little extra cheese on top of the tomatoes. They will barely even know fresh tomatoes are in there.

Make It Meaty

This is a light meal and perfect by itself or with a salad. But if you're looking for a more substantial dish, try serving it with my breaded chicken cutlets (see here): You can cut them up and place them on top of the tart with an extra squeeze of lemon after it has baked, or serve them on the side.

Grilled Pattypan Squash + Egg Bagel Sandwiches


10-in-20 | 500 [arrow down] | FF | 50/50

Every morning in New York City people are enjoying bagel sandwiches. Whether with cream cheese, lox, or bacon and eggs, you really can't go wrong when layering things on a soft and chewy NYC bagel. The only thing I found missing from these iconic breakfast staples were some veggies. Lo and behold, just as I had that thought, I found a perfect, bagel-size, pattypan squash giving me the eye at the farmers' market, and I knew it was meant to be married to a bagel. If you think squash for breakfast is weird, just wait until you bite through the sweet, tender-crisp slices sitting on a throne of cheese and topped with eggs and bacon. It's going to be the new NYC breakfast staple, circa 2017!

1 pattypan squash
1 bacon strip
1 everything bagel
4 tablespoons Boursin cheese
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more if needed
2 large eggs
Two ½-inch-thick slices large tomato (the same diameter as the bagel)
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

1. Trim and discard the root and vine ends of the squash. Cut two ¼-inch-thick slices crosswise from the middle section (save any scraps for another use).

2. Heat a small nonstick skillet (but large enough to fry 2 eggs) over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, 6 to 7 minutes, turning once. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain; set aside the skillet with the rendered bacon fat.

3. Meanwhile, cut the bagel in half. Spread 2 tablespoons of the cheese onto the cut side of each half and set aside.

4. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the squash slices on both sides with the salt and pepper and drizzle with the 1 teaspoon oil, dividing it equally. Add the squash slices to the pan and cook, turning once, until grill marks form and the squash is tender; 5 to 8 minutes.

5. While the squash cooks, heat the skillet that you cooked the bacon in over medium- low heat. If there is not enough fat in the skillet to fry the eggs, add a bit of oil. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook to the desired doneness.

6. To assemble each sandwich, place a squash slice on top of a cheese-spread bagel half. Top it with a tomato slice and then an egg. Crumble up the bacon and scatter half on top of each sandwich, along with half the scallions. Yum!

Keep It Simple

• Pattypan squash is very similar in taste and texture to zucchini and yellow squash, so feel free to substitute slices of those when pattypan squash is not available.

• Boursin is a fabulous soft cheese made with garlic and herbs; it tastes like whipped cream cheese, which you can use instead. Regular or flavored cream cheeses will also work.

• I like to use my grill pan for this recipe as it adds a little bit of a charred flavor, but a regular skillet works just as well. This is true for most of my recipes that call for a grill pan.


The squash has such a delicate flavor that it really pairs well with the bacon and eggs. In truth, it adds more texture and bite than flavor. But if your kids are not going to dig a large piece of squash on their sandwich, cut up the squash, and blend it into the cheese or scramble the eggs and fold it into them. It will be the same sandwich, but with a kid-friendly twist.


The bacon gives a nice salty flavor to the egg, but if you prefer a vegetarian version, simply omit the bacon and add a sprinkle of salt on top of your eggs. And, if you are doing one sandwich with bacon and one without, be sure to cook the second egg in a different pan. You'll have one more pan to clean, but you'll also have a happy vegetarian.

Cauliflower, Avocado + Egg Salad with Lemon Aioli


10-in-20 | 500 [arrow down]

Chefs like to trick you by giving fancy names to simple dishes and techniques. A favorite example is the French word "aïoli." It sounds so lovely and special, but really all it is, is garlic mayonnaise. Now don't get me wrong, a homemade mayonnaise is on a different level from the store-bought stuff — it is truly special. What? You don't think mayonnaise can be special? Well wait until you taste aioli over soft, delicate eggs with tender cauliflower and velvety avocado; you will realize just how incredibly special little old mayo can be. Go ahead, impress your friends and tell them all about this amazing dish you made with lemon aioli (and you might as well throw in a French accent when you say it).

Cauliflower, Avocado + Egg Salad

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 medium head cauliflower (2 pounds), broken or cut into bite-size florets
4 thick slices sourdough white bread
8 hard-boiled large eggs (see Appendix)
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup finely chopped scallions, green parts only
Chili oil (optional)
Lemon Aioli
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup vegetable oil

Cauliflower, Avocado + Egg Salad

1. Add ½ inch of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and let cool. While the cauliflower cooks, make the Lemon Aioli (recipe follows).

2. Preheat a grill pan over high heat and arrange the bread in it. Grill the bread on one side only until it is toasted and you see grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Peel the eggs and chop them into ½-inch pieces. Put the eggs, avocados, cauliflower, and all but about 1 tablespoon of the scallions in a medium bowl and toss with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Add the aioli and toss to combine.

4. Place a slice of grilled bread on each of four plates. Mound the salad on top, dividing it equally. Scatter the remaining scallions over the tops, and add a few drops of chili oil to each if you wish.

Lemon Aioli

Add the egg yolk, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and salt to a blender and blend on high for 10 seconds. Leave the blender on and very slowly drizzle in the oil, starting with a couple drops and adding more as you go until the aioli has thickened. Remove from the blender and keep cold.

Keep It Simple

• The fresh aioli really gives this dish a special flavor that is delicate and indulgent at the same time, but a good-quality store-bought mayo will work fine instead: Simply add the lemon juice and garlic zest to about 1 cup mayo and mix this with the salad in step 3.

• I love to cook up several hard-boiled eggs at once; that way I can make dishes like this in the drop of a hat and I always have a great snack on hand. Keep hard-boiled eggs, in their shells, in your fridge for up to a week.

• The more oil you add to the aioli the thicker it gets. This aioli is a little thin, so if you want it thicker simply add an extra ¼ to ½ cup of oil. Add extra salt and lemon if desired.

• You can use any light-tasting vinegar in the aioli or skip it and use extra lemon juice instead.

Kale Egg Cups


10-in-30 | 500 [arrow down] | FF | 50/50

I've always liked cute things: kittens, tiny travel-size toiletries, my nieces in dance recitals, and, of course, I married one heck of a cute guy. And my food cannot be left off this list. I love cute food, which usually means tiny food, or individual-size eats. Considering these Kale Egg Cups literally make people stop and say "how cute," they definitely make the list. And it gets even better; not only are they cute, but they also are flavorful, healthy, and easy to whip up. You are in store for one tasty breakfast that is special enough for company and easy enough for weekday meals. And did I mention how CUTE they are?! OK, I'll stop now.

1 medium yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
4 fully cooked breakfast sausage patties
8 large kale leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup shredded mozzarella
8 large eggs
8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8-cup muffin pan and set the pan aside. Place a medium saucepan of water over high heat and bring to a boil.

2. Chop the onion and bell pepper and cut the sausage patties into ¼-inch pieces. Set aside.

3. One at a time, hold each kale leaf by its stem and dip it into the boiling water until it turns bright green, about 5 seconds, then lay it on some paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to drain.

4. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, and salt and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sausage and sauté just until it turns brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat.

5. One at a time, pat each kale leaf dry with a paper towel. Cut away its stem and then cut the leaf crosswise into 3 pieces. Line the bottom and sides of a prepared muffin cup with the 3 pieces, overlapping them and making sure to cover the sides all the way up to the top. Repeat the procedure to line all of the cups.

6. Put 1 tablespoon of the mozzarella in each cup, top that with a spoonful of the vegetable and sausage mixture, making sure there is still room in the cup for an egg. Crack an egg into each cup and then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the Parmesan over the egg. When all 8 cups are filled, place the muffin pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are set, 15 to 17 minutes. (Go to for step-by-step photos.)

7. Transfer the muffin pan to a wire rack and let the egg cups cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Run a table knife around the inside edge of each cup to release anything that might be sticking. Gently lift out the kale egg cups and place 2 on each serving plate. Enjoy them hot!


The cute factor of these cups is undeniable! Even if the green kale stuff might normally make your kids shy away, they will probably give them a shot.


The recipe allows half a sausage patty for each kale egg cup, so omit that amount for every cup you wish to make vegetarian. Then, when you prep the filling, remove the vegetables from the skillet before you brown the sausage; fill all the cups with the veggies and then add the sausage to whichever ones you want meat in. Figure out a way to keep track of which cups are which so you keep them separate and keep everyone happy.


Excerpted from Meat on The Side by Nikki Dinki, Ellen Silverman. Copyright © 2016 Nikki Dinki. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


How to Use This Book—What to Look For

Breakfast + Brunch

Appetizers + Nibblers


Sandwiches, Tacos + the Like

Pizzas + Flatbreads

Pasta + "Pasta"

Light Meals

Main Meals





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Meat on the Side: Delicious Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great cookbook for the veggie lover or for anyone on the fence about veggies. Nikki has created delicious and creative recipes with tips included on how to change-up the recipe. This is my favorite cookbook and I love that the recipes are simple, easy to follow and you use everyday ingredients. Nikki combines just the right spices to make veggies taste better than ever. I highly recommend this cookbook and would give it 10 stars if that was possible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved watching Nikki on the Next Food Network Star and was so bummed when she didn't win. She has such a great concept starring veggies as the main part of each dish. I LOVE her recipes and you will too. Go by her book :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing and the recipes are easily recreated. I love that she also gives suggestions for ways to change up the recipe if you want. We have added several of these recipes into our regular rotation. You can't go wrong with the Sweet and Spicy Stuffed Poblanos!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nikki makes cooking easy, tasty, creative meals so fun! The recipes are simple to understand, the photos and book design are gorgeous — she always adds her personal story and twist on each dish, which makes this cookbook interesting to read as much as use for practical cooking. Some cookbooks are extreme and complicated with hard to find ingredient— but Nikki's recipes in this book, like her TV shows, are approachable and easy to find the ingredients for and healthy, approachable for everyone's food preferences. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so excited when this book arrived!! The first thing I noticed is just how BEAUTIFUL it is! As a bibliophile in general, I am in love with the endpapers, the layouts, the fonts, everything! And then there's the main part--the AMAZING recipes! I love Nikki's "voice" that comes through in each of her creations--I almost feel like she's right there in my kitchen with me. Her spirit, creativity, and love of cooking shines through the pages--and is completely apparent in the flavors of the foods presented in the book. I've made quite a few of these recipes already and not only has each concoction been delicious, but the directions have been easy to follow. I've also learned quite a bit about ingredients I've never used before! Thank you for presenting us with such an amazing vegetable-focused book! PS, My kids are also huge fans of many of these recipes--and it's not easy to please those two! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm blown away by the creativity Nikki Dinki shows in the recipes in this book! The pictures are mouth watering, and the recipes are very user friendly. Many recipes even give substitutions if you might not have an ingredient on hand. I love that she gives her back story at the beginning, and each recipe has a introduction. I watched her on food network star and love her personality, and that personality shines in this cookbook. If you are a vegetarian you'll love it, it you love meat you'll love it too! Nikki gives us a creative, satisfying, healthy way to eat.