I created this blog for two reasons. First, I love sharing recipes and food tips. Second, I found that many food blogs are missing something. They give you a great idea for a main course, but no ideas on what to pair with it. That fancy chicken parmesan looks fantastic, but when it comes down to it, I don’t want to spend all my time on the main dish and have nothing to serve with it.
I wanted this blog to showcase whole meals—easy things that you can pair together and not have to spend hours in the kitchen. I shared a recipe for Salmon with Mango and Avocado Salsa last week. The benefit of cooking salmon in the oven is that it takes 15–20 minutes, which happens to be the cooking time for a variety of vegetables and starches. So to pair with the salmon, I came up with two easy recipes: Coconut Rice and Roasted Garlic Broccoli.
When I think of mangos and avocados, I envision somewhere tropical, so the coconut rice is a natural fit. Instead of cooking the rice in water, I used a can of light coconut milk.
This is probably the only time I’d use light coconut milk. Usually I want the extra richness that the full fat version provides, like in a curry or stew. But since the meal already has some richness from the salmon and avocados, I didn’t find it necessary to add more in the rice. I also added a half teaspoon of sugar to the rice, which brings out the sweetness of the coconut. If you’re using white rice like I did, it cooks in approximately 20 minutes—the same as the salmon.
If you have time, I love the addition of toasted unsweetened coconut to the rice. To toast it, I added it to a sauté pan over medium heat. About 5 minutes later, it toasts up to a beautiful light brown hue. Stirring occasionally is key here so the coconut doesn’t burn. I also topped the rice with some leftover sliced green onions from the mango and avocado salsa.
Now onto the Garlic Roasted Broccoli! The crispy edges on the broccoli make this irresistible. The garlic flavor is incredible too, thanks to a little kitchen hack.
Normally when cooking with garlic, you would first mince the garlic. But minced garlic will burn quicker than the broccoli will cook, and burnt garlic is pretty bitter. I wanted a way to keep the garlic flavor but avoid the burning, and I didn’t want to turn to garlic salt.
To solve the issue, I took a microplane (I like this one) and grated the garlic finely to create a garlic paste. I’ll do something similar when I want garlic flavor but not big chunks of garlic, or to be honest, when I’m too lazy to chop it. Watch your fingers though, as some garlic cloves are tiny and you don’t want to grate your fingers!
I mixed the garlic paste with the olive oil and then rubbed it into the broccoli to ensure the broccoli was well coated, which means more crispy browned bits when it emerges from the oven! You might want to double the recipe now that I’m thinking about it. I’ve been known to eat an entire tray of it myself. It also turned my husband into a broccoli lover. I don’t think he touched it before we were married, but now he happily eats it and even asks for it.
As a bonus, the broccoli cooks at the same rate as the salmon. So if you’re making a meal, first preheat the oven and bring the coconut milk and rice to a boil. Then place the salmon and broccoli on a sheet pan, and put them in the oven. Lower the heat on the rice to low and cover. While everything cooks, make the mango and avocado salsa for the salmon. In just about 20 minutes, everything is done at the same time.
Asparagus also cooks at the same time as the salmon, so that would be another great side dish idea. I’d choose medium-thick stalks and not the super thin ones, as the thin variety may get a little overcooked in the course of 20 minutes. You could use the same grated garlic method to give the asparagus some extra flavor.
Here’s the link to that Salmon with Mango and Avocado Salsa!
If you make these dishes, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!
Yield 2 servings
- 1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk (not full fat)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup white rice
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Optional garnish: toasted coconut, sliced green onions
- Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the water is mostly absorbed.
- Take off the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Garnish with toasted coconut.
How to toast coconut: Place ¼ cup unsweetened coconut in a sauté pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the coconut is toasted, about 3–4 minutes. Watch carefully as the coconut will go from pale to burned quite quickly!
Garlic Roasted Broccoli
Yield 2 servings
Chopped garlic would typically burn in the oven while the broccoli cooks, so I grate it on a microplane to create a paste to combine with the olive oil, and rub it into the broccoli. Ta-da! No more burnt garlic.
- 1 large or 2 small heads broccoli
- 2 large garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the broccoli into florets.
- In a small bowl, combine the grated garlic with the olive oil. Place the broccoli on a large sheet pan. Pour the garlic and olive oil over the top and toss with your hands, rubbing the olive oil/garlic mixture into the broccoli. Spread evenly across the sheet pan, making sure the broccoli doesn’t overlap. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the broccoli is crisp on the edges.