Side Dish Recipes
Spinach is one of those vegetables that is hard to mess up.
A little fat (butter or duck) or olive oil and it’s a success.
However, there are times when you want it to be a little more…interesting.
The Accidental Locavore was making some Spare Ribs Vindaloo (recipe soon) and wanted an Indian spin on spinach that didn’t require running out for ingredients (I’m looking at you saag paneer).
I pulled out my favorite Indian cookbook Made in India and found this recipe for spinach. Serves 4.
Spinach with Garlic and Lemon Juice Recipe:
- 1 pound spinach
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 fresh red chili, very thinly sliced (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Juice of about ½ lemon (to taste)
Wash the spinach and set aside.
In a very large frying pan, over medium heat, add the butter. When it starts to melt, add the garlic and red chili.
Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic starts to turn pale gold.
Add the salt and pepper.
Add the spinach in handfuls, toss to coat with butter. As it starts to wilt, add another handful or two until you’ve used it all up.
Squeeze the lemon juice over the spinach and take off the heat. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately and enjoy!
My verdict: Oh yes! Sadly, we only had a 9-ounce bag of spinach so I did half a recipe and wished there was more. Lots more.
This was super simple and I’ll be making it a lot—so good!
There wasn’t too much heat from the chili, a serrano, so we could have used more, but we like heat. If you don’t have serranos or jalapenos lying in wait in the freezer (when you have a mess of chilis, wash them, toss in a Ziploc bag and freeze them—you’ll always have them on hand), a sprinkle of red pepper flakes would probably be fine.
Try it and let me know what you think.
The Accidental Locavore’s mother always insisted on pearl onions for Thanksgiving.
No one really likes pearl onions “straight-up”.
When I found this recipe from Bon Appètit it seemed like a great combination.
Also perfect for Thanksgiving because you don’t need the oven.
Pearl Onions and Brussels Sprouts in Horseradish Cream
- 1 bag frozen pearl onions thawed
- 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half the long way
- 3 tablespoons horseradish (more to taste)
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Cook the Brussels sprouts until just tender either in a microwave for 5 minutes, or boil them in salted water for about 6 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Combine the horseradish, flour and allspice in a small bowl, mix well and whisk in the cream. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the thyme and stir 30 seconds. Add the onions and Brussels sprouts and saute until heated through, about 4 minutes.
Add the horseradish mixture, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream is reduced to a glaze, coating the vegetables, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more horseradish if you like. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This is a tried and true Thanksgiving hit! Even the non-pearl onion and/or Brussels sprouts haters often find themselves surprised by how good this is!
Besides not needing an oven, you can precook the Brussels sprouts and onions and set them aside. Ditto for the horseradish sauce. Then, just finish them before you’re ready to serve (about 5 minutes or until they’re warm).
True confession, much to my friend Zhu Zhu’s disgust, I always buy frozen pearl onions. They’re such a pain to peel and at Thanksgiving the last thing you need is to spend an hour peeling tiny onions. If you want to go the fresh route, blanch them and peel them (you might want to cook them first for a couple of minutes before adding the sprouts to the pan).
What’s a family Thanksgiving food tradition you’d like to change?
Cabbage might not be the first thing you’d think of to pop on the grill.
Cabbage on the grill is great! The Accidental Locavore first heard of it last year at a CSA pick-up.
Grilling makes the cabbage sweet and tender.
And it makes it summery, rather than a sad reminder of St. Patrick’s Day.
This recipe from Serious Eats sends it to Asia with the addition of a Thai-style dressing.
Grilled Cabbage Wedges
- 3 tablespoons fresh juice from 4 to 6 limes, divided
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (more or less to taste)
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
- 1 medium head of green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges with the core left intact
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Combine 2 tablespoons lime juice, all of the fish sauce, sugar, and garlic in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high heat until steaming hot, about 20 seconds. Add chili flakes. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool, then stir in remaining lime juice and herbs. Taste and add pepper flakes and fish sauce as needed. Set aside.
Preheat a gas grill to high with the cover closed for 10 minutes
Place cabbage wedges directly over hot side of grill. Cook, covered, until well charred on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip cabbage, cover, and cook until charred on second side, another 3 minutes. Flip wedges to third side, cover, and cook until well charred, another 3 minutes. Transfer cabbage to cooler side of grill, cover, and continue cooking until mostly tender but still crunchy in center, about 5 minutes longer.
Transfer cabbage to a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with sauce, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Grilled cabbage is really a great thing! This recipe should inspire you to try grilling wedges and dressing them with the classic wedge salad dressings like blue cheese and bacon, or turning it into grilled coleslaw (note to self…).
As with anything containing fish sauce, go easy at first, you can always add more later.
If you’re apartment bound, a grill pan on high heat will work fine, just turn it down to medium heat once the cabbage is charred. And if you’re like my brother and a charcoal purist, that works as well as gas (probably better).
Potato salad is a summer staple.
As good as potato salad is, the Accidental Locavore is not a huge fan of potato salad with either mayo or hard-boiled eggs. When I saw this from the NY Times, it looked like a nice change from my go-to French potato salad. Serves 4:
Potato Salad With Lemon and Mint Recipe
- 2 pounds small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size
- Juice of 1 lemon, more for serving
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, more for serving
- ¼ cup torn mint leaves, more for serving
- ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, more for serving
Cut the potatoes in half, or quarters if they’re large. Put potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by 1”. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with dressing, scallions, mint and Turkish pepper. Let cool to room temperature. Just before serving, top with additional lemon juice, scallions, mint and Aleppo pepper.
My verdict: Easy and good! Will they take the place of the French potato salad? Probably not, but how can you compete with bacon (and bacon fat)???
If you don’t have Aleppo, or ¼ teaspoon of some exotic pepper (because it’s soooo worth it to go out for 1/4 teaspoon of anything), just use freshly ground black pepper.
Other herbs to consider would have to include sage, rosemary and tarragon – essentially anything fresh.
I always cut the potatoes before boiling. It saves time, both in cooking and in waiting for them to cool enough to cut. However, you must start the potatoes in cool water. Otherwise they’ll never cook evenly all the way through and especially with potato salad, you don’t want them mushy on the outside.
What’s your favorite potato salad?
Faced with a pile of summer squash and fennel and requested to bring a salad to a recent party, the Accidental Locavore went trolling through a pile of cookbooks, hoping to find all the squash and/or fennel recipes that might have been saved for warmer months.
In Ottolenghi’s Plenty More there was a recipe for courgette (not to brag, but I have a signed British copy) and fennel with saffron crumbs.
Being lazy, this was more of a riff on the original. Serves 4.
Grilled Summer Squash and Fennel Salad
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut lengthwise into thin strips
- 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into thin strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup dill, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
Preheat your grill (or grill pan, if apartment bound) on high heat.
In a medium pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the garlic and breadcrumbs. Fry for about a minute until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
In a large bowl, toss the summer squash and fennel with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper.
Grill until both sides are nicely charred, about 6 minutes a side for the fennel, less for the squash.
Put the summer squash and fennel back in the large bowl. Add the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss gently. Let marinate for about 15-20 minutes.
Plate the vegetables on a large platter, sprinkle with the dill. Top with the breadcrumbs, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Not really my verdict this time…even though I doubled the recipe, I should have made more. It disappeared quickly at the party and one of my friends confided that she’d had three helpings!
Because it needed to travel, I grilled the fennel and squash (a mix of summer squash and zucchini) separately and marinated them overnight. Put it together with the dill and breadcrumbs at the party. If you’re off to a pot-luck or picnic, this is a perfect dish to make. It travels well and doesn’t need to be hot or cold – all good in the summer.
I cut all the squash lengthwise and then in half because it seemed to be easier to deal with at a buffet. Slicing and grilling some Japanese eggplant I had crossed my mind, but then I decided to keep it simple.
From what (little) I ate, it could have used a little more dill and breadcrumbs, but still a big hit!
Have you ever had Chinese broccoli?
Also known as gai lan, it was one of the choices at my CSA recently and feeling brave, the Accidental Locavore tried it. It looks like just the leaves of broccoli, but bigger, with a little bud in the center.
Since it was Chinese, something Asian seemed to be appropriate.
Because I was trying to get Frank to like it, a recipe from the NY Times with anchovies seemed like it might work and conveniently this serves 2:
- 1 pound Chinese broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 8 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons Vietnamese fish sauce (more or less to taste)
Split the large stalks of broccoli in half lengthwise. Add the oil to a large sauté pan on high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and anchovies and cook, pressing on the anchovies with a wooden spoon until they dissolve and the garlic lightly browns.
Add the Chinese broccoli and toss in the sauce to coat. Pour in the rice wine and let it reduce for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and fish sauce, bring to a boil, cover and steam until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook at a lively simmer until the broccoli is tender and the sauce has evaporated slightly. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This would have been really good if the Chinese broccoli had been cooked through. What was weird was that it didn’t seem to matter what size the stalks were, some of them were perfectly cooked and others were way too crunchy. Even time in the microwave for the leftovers, didn’t seem to make a difference. Odd.
However, the parts that were cooked until tender were delicious (and yes, Frank liked the cooked parts, too). I’ve been using Red Boat fish sauce which happens to be Vietnamese, but I’m sure Thai fish sauce would work just fine. Go easy with the fish sauce and taste before you add all of it in. Broccoli rabe and regular broccoli would work also. For more acid, I did add another splash of rice wine vinegar. Serve it like I did with some jasmine rice and grilled chicken thighs.
So, if you see Chinese broccoli, grab it and try this and let me know what you think.
Your first thought is probably why are we heating an oven up in the summer? Good question! Trust me when I tell you that this recipe is worth it.
- ½ cup walnuts
- ¾ pomegranate seeds (from about ½ a pomegranate)
- ¾ cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped mint
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 garlic clove crushed into a paste
- Salt and pepper
Rice and Assembly
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 mint sprigs
- 8 ounces feta, sliced 1/4 “ thick
Relish: Preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the nuts on a baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Let cool then coarsely chop. Turn the oven up to 450°.
In a medium bowl, toss all the relish ingredients to combine. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed.
Rice: Combine rice, butter and salt in a 13×9” baking dish, add 3 ½ cups of water. Top with mint sprigs. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30-35 minutes until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove from oven, remove mint sprigs and fluff rice with a fork.
Heat broiler. Arrange feta over the rice. Broil until the rice is browned around the edges and the feta is starting to brown, 8-10 minutes. Top with pomegranate relish, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Possibly one of the best rice dishes ever! I divided the recipe in half and still made a pretty big dish of it, easily enough for 4 people, so you might want to do the same unless you’re having a party. Pine nuts substituted for the walnuts and I toasted them in a frying pan on top of the stove, a microwave will work too. Just keep an eye on them, they go from barely toasted to burnt in an instant. Frank doesn’t like pomegranate seeds (and we didn’t have any) so I made it without them. However, if you don’t have pomegranate molasses, forget this recipe until you get some, it’s really key (and here’s the link to a great salad dressing with it)!
Having some really good basmati rice from Kalustyan’s and (not that I’m bragging) some homemade feta also contributed to this being a great dish and well worth heating the oven!
My friend Rob, had this recipe on his Facebook feed and the Accidental Locavore thought it looked great. It came from a new cookbook, Made in India, which I promptly added to my bookshelf (floor actually) and am glad I did (even though I always swear, no more cookbooks, it was justified by donating a bunch to the local library). This serves 4, but you can scale it up or down depending on the size of your cauliflower.
- 1 large head of cauliflower, about 1 ½ pounds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 5 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
- 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil (or parchment paper) and set aside.
Wash the cauliflower and pull off the leaves. Break the cauliflower into small florets and set aside. Steam the cauliflower in a pot of boiling water and blanch for a minute or microwave for about 2-3 minutes. Drain it really well and let it dry for about 5 minutes.
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cumin seeds with the salt then add the chile powder and turmeric, followed by the oil. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can run the cumin and salt through a spice (coffee) grinder and put it in a small bowl with the chile powder, turmeric and oil. Mix well.
Put the cauliflower on the sheet pans in one layer and drizzle the oil over it. Toss to make sure the cauliflower is well coated. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, shaking the pans every 10 minutes to ensure it browns evenly. Put cooked cauliflower in a bowl or platter and squeeze the lemon over it. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This
is going to be has become one of my go-to dishes! Delicious, simple and easily tweaked. Since I was making Mexican spare ribs, I used lime instead of lemon to give it more of a Mexican flavor and they were perfect together. I steamed the cauliflower in the microwave—it’s faster and rather than getting oil in my mortar and pestle, ground and mixed the spices, then put them in a measuring cup and added the oil. That made it easier to drizzle over the cauliflower before roasting. Since I wrote this I’ve done broccoli the same way, this time with lemon (and I let the steamed broccoli marinate for a few hours in the oil) and it was great!
Sometimes you just need a different vegetable…the Accidental Locavore was looking for something green to go with the Indian chicken I was making. Usually I toss some broccoli with a lot of sliced garlic and curry powder and steam it, but just wasn’t in the mood. I saw some nice looking haricots verts (very skinny string beans) at the market and figured I could do something with them. Serves 4:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound string beans, stem ends trimmed
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger (about a ½” piece)
Put the beans in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and cook until crisp-tender about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Place a large skillet over high heat, and add oil. When very hot, add mustard seeds, and cook until seeds begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Add onion, and cook, stirring until it begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add ginger, and cook 1 minute more. Add the beans, and cook, stirring until hot. Season with salt to taste. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: A good (and easy) change from the broccoli. The onion gets nice and crispy and the ginger gives it a bit of spice. If you were really, really lazy you could just toss some of the canned fried onions (might there be some left from the Thanksgiving green bean casserole?). I was thinking that a little of the lemon curry powder that usually goes on the broccoli, might be a nice addition. If you were wondering what the difference between brown, black and yellow mustard seeds was, the black are the most pungent and expensive, while the brown and yellow will be milder. They also become nuttier rather than hotter when they’re fried (and its sort of fun to hear them pop).
As you know, cauliflower is poised to take over for kale as the next over-played vegetable. Being trendy enough, the Accidental Locavore found this recipe for roasted cauliflower with a “Buffalo” sauce. It’s easy and you can roast the cauliflower ahead of time. Serves 2-4, depending on the size of the cauliflower (and the hunger of your audience).
- One 2-to-2½-pound head cauliflower, leaves trimmed and base trimmed so the cauliflower will stand up
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup Sriracha
- ¼ cup Frank’s RedHot sauce
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
Preheat the oven to 450°. Place the cauliflower, stem-side down, onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt. Roast until tender and browned on top, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, trim the florets into 3-inch-long pieces (about the size of chicken wings) and cut the stem into thin slices.
In a large saucepan, combine the Sriracha, Frank’s RedHot sauce and the cauliflower, and toss to coat. Place over medium-high heat, and when the sauce begins to sizzle, add the butter. Cook, tossing and stirring often, until the sauce is slightly creamy and the cauliflower is heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the blue cheese, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Provided you like Buffalo sauce, this could make a cauliflower lover out of the skeptics out there! It’s really easy, especially if you roast the cauliflower ahead of time, like I did, then you can just pull it out and finish it off. I thought it was maybe a little too spicy and will cut down the Sriracha to 2 tablespoons and add more 2 more tablespoons of Frank’s the next time I make it. Since I had some real Roquefort on hand, that was my blue cheese, which was great, but you certainly will get a fine result with any good blue cheese. Serve it as a snack or side dish.