Meat On The Side Cookbook

Meet Nikki

I am a chef, mom, TV host, cookbook author, blogger, professional voice over artist and terrace gardener. I cook in a way I call "Meat on the Side" which focuses on veggies, making them unique and the star of the plate. 

More about Nikki...



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    Broccoli Tacos



    A Horror Story:

    Written by: Nikki Dinki

    Sue and her date go to a local restaurant for a nice meal out. Sue orders the salmon, her date the steak and each meal comes with a side of vegetables. They chatter, flirt and then...the meal comes...all they can do is stare in horror at their plates.





    It’s not the salmon or the steak that get their attention but that sad, mushy, flavorless, over-steamed broccoli thrown haphazardly on the plate. It’s blatantly obvious that no one at this restaurant cares about broccoli. And being advocates for Broccoli’s rights (ABRs they call themselves) they get up and march out of the restaurant.

    For they know, as I do, that broccoli should NEVER be treated this way...


    The end.




    You see, I didn’t always love broccoli, I’ll admit it. The green tree-like vegetable and me had a bumpy relationship at first. But how can anyone fall in love with this green goddess when she is so often treated and dressed, so poorly?!





    To make broccoli shine there are many things you can do. Roasting it to give it a little bit of a charred and smoky flavor is a good start.

    Pairing it with meaty and sweet roasted garlic and caramelized onions is also smart.

    And then balancing that with tart and acidic pomegranate seeds and juicy tomatoes?! Well that, that is very good!





    And then, of course, why not just wrap it all in a taco! Because who doesn’t love a taco?!





    And don’t worry, I’ll stick to cooking and not fiction writing...






    2 Bunches Broccoli, cut into 1inch pieces

    1 Head of Garlic

    2 Vidalia Onions, chopped small

    2Tbs Butter

    1 link Hot Italian Sausage (optional)

    1/2cup Parmesan, grated

    ¼ cup Sour Cream

    ½ tsp Smoked Paprika

    1 Lemon, zest and juice

    1 15oz can Garbanzo Beans

    1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

    Salt and Pepper



    ¼ cup Toasted Pine Nuts

    ¼ cup Scallions, thinly sliced

    ¼ cup Pomegranate Seeds



    Put Broccoli pieces on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes until it is tender and slightly charred around the edges. In the same oven roast the head of garlic. Click here for HOW TO ROAST GARLIC

    While broccoli and garlic roast in the oven caramelize the onions in the 2tbs of butter over medium low heat. Takes approximately 30 minutes.  Also, take sausage out of it’s casing and brown in a pan over medium heat until cooked through. Set aside.

    Pulse roasted broccoli, roasted garlic, and caramelized onion in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Put mixture back in pan that you used to caramelize the onions. Add Paprika, parmesan, sour cream, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper to the mixture and stir until well combined. Cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and cooked sausage and gently fold into broccoli mixture. Cook for 3 more minutes until everything is heated through.

    Spoon mixture into small tortilla shells. Top with scallions, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds.


    Makes 8 small tacos





    • Leave out the sausage for a completely vegetarian meal. The chickpeas add extra protein making this a complete meal
    • The carmelized onions add another layer of meaty flavor but simply sauteed onions would work great also
    • Pomegranate seeds are fun but totally optional





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    You might also like these recipes:

    • Roasted Garlic
    • Appetizer Cups
    • Irish Soda Bread
    • Cookie Dough Truffles
    • Buttery Biscoff Bites

    Reader Comments (8)

    Hey Nikki!

    My girlfriend is a vegetarian, and have been wanting to experience the products of my cooking for a while now. However, at the time, I only knew how to cook dishes that revolved around a meat base... well, they were all meat basically. I honestly didn't know what to make any vegetable taste good. Fortunately, I found your recipe, and it came out great. Thank you for posting this!

    June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTobias

    Hi! New follower and fan of Food Network Star here. My husband and I have been wanting to cut back on meat and pump up our veggie intake. This recipe looks like a great way to start. Thanks for sharing!

    June 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

    I am blood type A+ and I want to start eating for my blood type which is very low meat consumption. I am so glad that you have created meals without meat... I watched you on the food network and instantly got inspired with your mushroom shrimp pasta dish. I will follow your meals moving forward. thank you and continue to be creative.

    July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGail

    Hi Nikki,
    Love you on Food Network Star!
    We just found out my 6 year old son cannot have dairy and I have heard that broccoli has lots of calcium. He loves tacos so we will definitely be making this recipe for dinner. We are also trying to eat less meat to reduce our carbon footprint..
    Thanks so much!

    July 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

    I adore you!

    August 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

    I just watched the episode of FNS where they let you go.
    Me and my family want you to know that you were our favorite and the mentors were mistaken !!!

    August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

    My family just finished eating these delicious Broccoli Tacos. My boys (3 and 6 years old) are calling them Braco Tacos. Nikki...this is an extraordinary recipe. I don't know how you come up with these...but PLEASE keep it up!!!! Thank you so much!!!!

    August 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

    Just said Amazing. I think this recipe is very yummy.

    January 31, 2016 | Unregistered Commentertasrin

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