Cooking: Autumn veggie side dishes


The last great days of picnicking are upon us here in Shanghai, and luckily I’ve got friends who love a good potluck picnic. I created two recipes recently for one of these rapidly cooling days and they went over gangbusters. They’ll also work well for Friendsgivings and other potlucky get-togethers that might be coming up!

So here you go. Have fun, luv ya!

Like just about everything I make (out of habit at this point – carbs are like my junk food, I indulge but will not make it for myself), these recipes are keto-friendly and max out to less than 10g of carbs per hefty portion. Also like everything I make, I am retroactively figuring out the portions because I cook whatever I happen to find in my fridge.


Side 1: Broccoli & Walnuts in Lemon Garlic Butter

(serves 6)

2 heads of broccoli. 1 cup of crushed raw walnuts
6 cloves of garlic. Half a red onion
50g of butter. 40ml of olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt to taste.
Cinnamon powder: not specifically necessary. I thought it’d be a good taste deepener, but tbh it didn’t really assert itself in any way. I sprinkled copiously too.


  • Chop the broccoli into chunks and put aside.
  • Slice the six cloves of garlic, and dice the red onion finely
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a wok over a medium flame. If it seems like it’s almost enough oil/butter for a small deep-fry, you’re right! That’s what you’re about to do!
  • Throw in the garlic and red onion, stir until fragrant.
  • Dump in the cup of crushed walnuts. Now watch them fry up to a delectable golden brown. If they brown anything further than an oaky color, your fire’s too hot.
  • When they do start to brown, put in all your broccoli chunks and mix thoroughly.
  • When thoroughly mixed, you can put on the wok cover to let it steam itself a little. This mostly helps the broccoli soften (but not too much!) and you can leave it there for about five minutes.
  • Give another mix up and then pour the lemon juice on top. If you’ve decided to cinnamon this b up, here’s also the time to dash it on.
  • Salt and check broccoli consistency with a toothpick. It should go in, but still take a bit of pressure. I err on the side of al dente usually, because I like to reheat broccoli for some weekday lunch vegetables.


Side 2: Tomato Lotus Slaw

(serves 6?)

Cherry tomatoes (500g). Half a red onion. Two lotus roots (400g)
Camelia oil (or some other high heat oil) – probably like a quarter cup maybe?
Salt & Black pepper

¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
¼ cup of olive oil
1 tbsp of sugar (or sugar substitute like xylitol)
½ tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of Worchestershire sauce or light soy sauce


  • Process that lotus root by slicing them into disks, and then quartering those disks.
  • Heat up the oil in a wok (I love my wok)
  • Toss in the lotus root and stir fry until they start to crisp up. If they aren’t crisping up, you probably need to pour in more oil. It helps to stir fry one lotus root worth of quarter disks at a time so they can get adequate coating and pan-touching.
  • Let dat lotus root cool – which means it’s time to process all the other stuff.
  • Process the onions into thin julienned slices
  • Process the cherry tomatoes by cutting them all in half
  • Mix together the marinade, stir until all the sugar dissolves into the rest of it.
  • Put the onion, tomatoes and lotus root into a closeable container. Pour in the marinade. Close the container and shake shake shake.
  • Open it up, give it a taste and then salt and pepper to your heart’s delight.

And in case you happen to have leftovers after your picnic/potluck/dinner, they make for some bright pretty leftovers as well. Look upon my lunch and feel jelly: