I’ve been trying to make more interesting side dishes to accompany my entrees. While I will spend hours perfecting the perfect main course, by the time I get to the side dishes, I seem to run out of momentum. This recipe for a ridiculously easy potato dish is courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine. With only three ingredients and a little prior planning this dish comes together quickly. (Plus smashing the potatoes is a lot of fun!). I served the potatoes with sour cream and chives to go along with grilled chicken. I’m now thinking that I could easily dress the potatoes up for a more formal dinner or even serve them with a dipping sauce as a part of a buffet table. Regardless of how I make them in the future, this dish is a keeper.
CRISPY SMASHED ROASTED POTATOES
12 to 15 baby red potatoes
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Boil the potatoes:
- Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with at least one inch of water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are completely tender and can easily be pierced with a skewer. Make sure they are cooked through but don’t over cook. The total cooking time will be 30-35 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, set up a double layer of clean dish towels on the counter top. As the potatoes finish cooking, remove them individually from the water, and let them drain and sit for just a minute or two on the dishtowels.
Flatten and cool the potatoes:
- Fold another dishtowel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Repeat with all of the potatoes. Don’t worry if some break apart a bit; you can still use them.
- Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; place a piece of parchment on top of the foil. Transfer the flattened potatoes to the baking sheet and let them cool completely to room temperature.
Roast the potatoes:
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and pour the olive oil over them. Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of the oil goes underneath them and they are well coated on both sides. Roast the potatoes until they are crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning over once gently with a spatula half way through cooking.
- Serve hot.
Fresh artichokes are probably one of my favorite vegetables and baby artichokes are even better than the larger version of this funny looking vegetable. Tender and mild with a slightly nutty flavor, you can eat them whole without having to worry the prickly choke in their center. And fresh artichokes are nothing like the canned or pickled ones most people are more familiar with.
There are so many ways you can use fresh baby artichokes but my favorite way is a simple preparation with a few herbs, some lemon juice and a bit of white wine. This recipe is a classic that I adapted from Gourmet Magazine and it really doesn’t get much simpler than this. For the best flavor, choose fresh, firm and brightly colored artichokes. You can use whatever dried herbs you have on hand. The most important thing, however, is to go light on the herbs since you want to be able to enjoy the taste of the artichokes.
WINE SAUTEED BABY ARTICHOKES
8 baby artichokes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- Bend the outer leaves of the artichokes back until they snap off close to the base and remove several more layers of leaves in the same manner until the white inner leaves are reached. Trim the tips and quarter the artichokes.
- In a small bowl toss the artichokes with the flour and salt and black pepper to taste.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet set over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking
- Add the garlic and cook until it has softened.
- Add the artichokes and sauté them over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes.
- Stir in the oregano, basil and the lemon juice and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the wine and the red pepper flake and simmer the mixture, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the artichokes are very tender.
- Uncover and boil over high heat for 1 minute or until it is thickened slightly.
What is more comforting than ooey, gooey, cheesy potatoes? While I’ve been known to enjoy a bowl of them by themselves, they are also the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, roasts or even a big green salad. They seem to turn any dish into a meal. And while there are many versions of this potato dish out there, I love this one which I’ve adapted from Cooking Light.
And what isn’t to love? This dish never fails to satisfy and it can easily be reduced in half or doubled in size depending upon the crowd you are serving. It is wonderful piping hot out of the oven and I think it tastes even better reheated the next day. And sometimes when I’m looking to save time, I use a bag of pre-cut and partially cooked potato slices. Doing this will reduce your preparation time meaning you can be enjoying this mouthwatering dish that much sooner.
2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Coat an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place potatoes in a large saucepan; fill pan with enough cold water to cover potatoes by 2 inches. Place pan over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain well.
- Gently layer one-third of potatoes in overlapping rows in prepared dish.
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, swirling to coat.
- Add the onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Combine the flour, milk, half-and-half, salt, nutmeg, and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
- Add the milk mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until smooth and mixture thickens slightly, stirring constantly with a whisk.
- Add the sherry to the mixture and stir well to combine.
- Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
- Pour one-third of milk mixture over potatoes in baking dish.
- Repeat layers twice with remaining potatoes and milk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.
- Place pan in upper third of oven; bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until bubbling around edges. Turn broiler to high, leaving pan in oven; broil 1 minute or until browned.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Nothing completes a great Mexican dish more than a side of freshly made salsa. And despite what you may think fresh salsa is incredibly easy to make; so easy that you’ll never go back to the jarred version again.
I love to use grape tomatoes for this dish since they are so sweet, have minimal seeds and easy to cut up. If you prefer you can use another type of tomato but you may want to remove some of the seeds before adding them to the bowl. The same goes for the jalapeño pepper. If you prefer a more fiery dish there isn’t any need to remove the seeds before mincing the pepper. You can also add an additional if you like (I usually do).
This salsa is perfect with tacos or fajitas, as a dressing for a salad or filling for an omelet or as a dip for tortilla chips. Actually, it is pretty darn good regardless of how you use it. Enjoy!
TOMATO & JALAPENO SALSA
1 quart grape tomatoes, quartered
1 jalapeño pepper, minced, more to taste
1 small shallot, minced
1 bunch cilantro,minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well to combine.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Stir well, add additional salt if needed and serve.
Yields: 1 1/2 cups
One of my favorite side dishes in polenta. Warm and creamy it is satisfying on its own and makes the perfect bed for soaking up rich sauces and stews. When dining out I will often select a dish simply because the main entree is accompanied by polenta. But despite my love of this dish, until recently I rarely cooked it at home. Why? After all making it is quite simple; all you really need is boiling water and cornmeal and a spoon for stirring. Lots of stirring. And that is why I tended to shy away from making homemade polenta. Try as I might; experimenting with temperature, cooking apparatus and spoon, my polenta would inevitably end up filled with unappetizing lumps. But then I broke out my slow cooker.
Yes, polenta made in a slow cooker. Really, nothing could be easier and best of all, there simply aren’t any lumps. I love it. This recipe is from William Sonoma and is everything a good polenta should be. It is rich and creamy and this version is studded with corn kernels. By topping it off with sautéed mushrooms you have a complete meal by itself. Or you can serve it along side your favorite meat dish that has lots of juice you want to sop up.
CREAMY HERBED POLENTA w/ MUSHROOMS
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup stone-ground polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3/4 pound brushed clean and quartered
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
- In a slow cooker, stir together the stock, polenta, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper.
- Cover and cook on the low setting for 3 to 3 1⁄2 hours, stirring two or three times if possible. The liquid should be absorbed and the polenta should be thick and soft and no longer gritty.
- About 10 minutes before the polenta is ready, in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the oil.
- Add the shallot and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and their liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and parsley, season with remaining salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute more.
- About 5 minutes before the polenta is ready, stir in the oregano and thyme, Parmesan and corn kernels, then re-cover.
- Spoon the polenta into warm shallow bowls or a serving bowl and top with the mushroom mixture.
- Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
Here’s an oldie but goodie that never fails to earn rave reviews on Thanksgiving.
Who wants that cranberry jelly from a tin can when you can make a fresh and flavorful cranberry relish in a matter of minutes. This dish always brings me back to my childhood and to this day I can’t eat turkey without thinking of and longing for this side dish. Try it, you’ll love it.
CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH
1 pound fresh cranberries, washed and picked over
1 whole organic orange, scrubbed
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
- Working in batches, pulse the cranberries until coarse in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Place the chopped cranberries in a large bowl.
- Cut the orange into eight pieces, leaving the peel on but removing any seeds. Place the orange pieces in the food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add to the cranberries.
- Add the salt and 1/2 cup of the sugar to the cranberries; stir to combine. Cover and allow to sit for several hours or preferably overnight.
- Stir the relish and add more sugar if needed.
Yields 3 cups
Thanksgiving is just a few days away but are you ready? The turkey and all of the traditional sides might be set but what about adding a healthy and colorful dish to the table? My new go-to dish and one that I will be serving is this kale and butternut squash dish courtesy of Simply Recipes. Because it is only lightly sautéed, the kale remains bright and crisp while the butternut squash adds color and a sweet flavor to the dish. And when you add in cranberries and pecans, this side dish practically becomes a meal unto itself.
It is so good that even the non-kale eaters amongst you will love it. And it will be a dish that you make over and over again long after the Thanksgiving leftovers have been eaten.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH & KALE SAUTE
4 cups 3/4-inch cubes of butternut squash
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups thinly sliced kale
1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup slightly broken up pecans
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the squash in a bowl and toss it with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Spread the squash on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes or until the squash is cooked through and the edges have begun to brown.
- While the squash is roasting heating the remaining olive oil in a large pot set over medium high heat.
- Add the onion and toss to coat. Cook for 7 minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the remaining balsamic vinegar and the kale to the pot. Stir until the kale and the onions are combined. Let the mixture cook until the kale is just wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the roasted squash, the cranberries and the pecans.
- Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve immediately.