Monday, May 10, 2010

Cookbook Giveaway: Send your side dishes

We spend so much time (or, OK, on a weeknight, maybe not so much time) coming up with main dishes. All our meal planning tends to get focused on entrees, and the side dishes just end up being a salad or a frozen vegetables tossed in simmering water.

We need 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. If we fall into the trap of the same old simmered side dishes, we're cutting ourselves short on getting some of the best nutrients we get all day. But who has time to put together a complicated side-dish recipe for a weeknight meal?

There's where the side dish staples come in. Stuff you can keep on hand and throw together without thinking about it.

You know where they do great side dishes like that? Italy. All those antipastos are really just small side dishes that you eat before you get to the main course. Looking through Mario Batali's new book, "Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking," I kept noticing all the small but great ideas for vegetable dishes.

For this week's cookbook giveaway, I have a copy of "Molto Gusto." To get in the drawing, post your name here and include a short description of your favorite fall-back side dish, something fast and simple to put together on a weeknight. Deadline: Friday. Check back to see who won, and see what great ideas for side dishes we get.

To get you in the mood, here's a recipe from Batali's book. I bet it would work even better with frozen peas, rinsed under a colander to thaw them.

Spring Peas With Mint

From "Molto Gusto," by Mario Batali.

2 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) peas

1 medium red onion, cut into dice about the size of the peas

About 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into 2 or 3 pieces each

1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette (your own, or a good bottled one)

Maldon or other flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the peas, onion and mint in a medium bowl and toss with vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and serve, or let stand up to 1 hour to bring out the flavors. Can be refrigerated for up to a day; bring to room temperature before serving.


Matthew Rowley said...

Easiest go-to recipe around here (especially for hot days) is a clove of garlic crushed into a paste with a dab of salt, then whisk in a cup or so of Greek/drained yogurt. Put dollops of this dressing on a serving dish piled with slices of roasted or pickled beets. I'll sometimes then sprinkle on a dusting of ground sumac for its tart counterbalance to the sweetness of the beets, but that's wholly optional. Could also use coarsely ground black pepper. We tend to use this as a side when we're grilling or tucking into an especially spicy dinner.

Anonymous said...

Another easy one is pickled beet and onion salad.

1 medium sweet onion very thinly sliced
2c sliced picked beets
1/4c beet juice
1/4c French dressing
1/4c sour cream

Combine onion rings with pickled beets and juice. Chill at least one hour. drain juice from onions and beets and save. Place the beets and onions on a serving dish. Combine the drained juice with the French dressing. Pour over beets and onion rings. Serve topped with sour cream. 5 to 6 servings.


Cheryl said...

One of my easy to go side dish is buttered Pappardelle pasta with fresh chopped cilantro. My kids love it. Goes great with pork.

Barbara said...

Barbara - My favorite fall-back side dish is tomato salad with a bit of garlic and basil so much!

Ann from Baxter Village said...

Carrots are always delicious. I cut them thin, thick, round, or long. Slightly steamed they take to sweet, sour, salty or spicy dressing: a little oil or butter with any herb (especially dill), a dab of homemade vinagrette or some curry cream sauce, a drop of syrup or some brown sugar and mint. The combinations are endless and carrots stay fresh in the fridge for a very long time.

Anonymous said...

I love to make Crock Pot Chicken with Cream Cheese! Yummy! I love this recipe for two reasons: one - my family loves it and two - because it is so easy to make! Its also the best leftovers in the world...if there are any!

Anna said...

My favorite side dish is a green salad with goat cheese and nuts! yummy!!

Robw222 said...

Absolute favorite: Spaghetti tossed with roasted asparagus, crispy bacon, good parmesean cheese and a warm garlic butter/olive oil mixture. You can toss in grilled chicken or shrimp to make a main dish but we love it as a side for steak or grilled fish.

Elizabeth said...

Our go-to side dish is an arugula salad (I like to get the arugula from New Town Farms). We add a little of whatever cheese we have on hand; slice an apple or pear; throw in a few nuts; and dress with a mixture of white wine and champagne vinegars and olive oil. It's fast and delicious.

Anonymous said...

Love bagged spinach.

In a salad with vinegarette, strawberries and goat cheese in the spring, grilled peaches and grilled onion in the summer, dried cranberries and goat cheese in the fall....

And sauted with a little garlic and olive in the winter- add a little cream for a richer side.


Anonymous said...

Roasted veggies!!! It's easy and I can use whatever I have on hand.


luv2cknbk said...

I like to make a quick vegetable couscous with almonds. Follow basic directions for cooking cousous and set aside. Stir fry scallions (or shallots, leeks, onions, etc) in a T olive oil till fragrant. Add diced zucchini, asparagus, peppers, arugula,or whatever combination of vegetables you have on hand. Season w salt, pepper and splash of vermouth. Add to cousous. Adjust seasoning. Stir in minced parsly or cilantro and some grated lemon zest and lemon juice. Add toasted slivered almonds and optional dried cranberries.

Anna said...

A very easy side dish is cuscus with anything you may have in the fridge: boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumber, tuna, olives, cheese, avocado... all cut in small pieces and mixed with a 5minute-ready cuscus and voila!

Nancy said...

Favorite side dish is any fresh vegetables (squash, zuchini, Vidalia onions, etc.)from farmer's market tossed with a little EVOO, salt and pepper and grilled. Even better when my husband has the Big Green Egg fired up!

Food According To Karen said...

When it's crunch time, I usually make up a batch of Carbonara. It's quick and easy. Use the basic recipe and you can punch it with a little extra asparagus or broccoli. Cook spaghetti as per package instructions; meanwhile, mince up a couple cloves of garlic and chop about 1/4 cup of ham or bacon. In a large frying pan and a little oil, fry ham or bacon until crispy, add minced garlic during the last minute. Scramble 2 eggs, a little milk, salt and pepper and whatever seasoning you like (oregano, parsley, basil, thyme). Drain spaghetti and toss into frying pan; toss with bacon/ham and garlic, then pour egg mixture over spaghetti and continue to toss until egg is cooked thru. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

Cheri Wiles said...

OK. My first go to is "Dinner Grits." Just cook grits the regular way, substituting chicken broth for half the water, and adding some hot pepper flakes and fresh thyme.

Second, I am crazy for this Asian-influenced asparagus, which I keep in the fridge all the time. Clean and lightly steam a bunch of asparagus. Asparagus will turn bright green, but will still be very crunchy. Rinse quickly under cold water, drain well and put in a resealable plastic bag. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 clove garlic (minced very, very fine), 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of toasted (dark) sesame oil. Pour over asparagus. Allow to marinate in refrigerator up to four days. GREAT with grilled meat, or on a salad, or just eaten out of hand!

Yoga with Gaileee, E-RYT said...

This is super easy. I wash fresh brocolli, then cut into small pieces.

Then I put the brocolli in my pampered chef small or large mirco steam cooker, add a little water, then sprinkle with seasoned salt. 3 minutes (depending how big that brocolli head was) in the mirco, and FAST tasty side for whatever else I'm eating.

If I have a bit more time, I will also add fresh mushrooms to the brocolli mix

yogawithgaileee at gmail dot com

Tessa.t said...

OH I'm such a big fan of Mario Batali! My favourite side would have to be a simple tomato bruschetta, diced tomatoes, herbs, lemon juice, basil, onions, a drizzle of olive oil & you're set! Of course, crusty italian sourdough bread is a must. :)

Glad Tidings Children Ministry said...

Mario Batali would really come in handy when cooking for my hearty family! Potato gratin, sliced potatoes thinly and layer in a baking dish with,cream, salt + pepper, herbs and cheddar cheese. Bake until potatoes are tender and cheese is melted and browned at 190 degrees. It's truly tasty, crisp from the cheese, creamy and with a bit of a chew at the same time. Just drool now. :)

ERICA said...

I always love a little 'stuffing' without the stuffed turkey on the side. Just throw in some milk/stock with some grilled mushrooms, garlic, breadcrumbs, herbs, cranberries, crushed hazelnuts in a pan with anything else you like, just go nuts! I usually add quite a substantial bit of liquid to mine because i like it moist and chewy, but feel free to omit liquid & use bread-cubes instead if you like dry, crunchy stuffing.

ERICA said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kathleen Purvis said...

Thanks, all, for all the creative ideas. The book giveaway was last Friday. Erica, I removed the comment with your e-mail address. That's not something you want to post in a public place. That's why I always ask the winner to contact me backchannel so I can get more information.

Johanna said...

Seems these days I always have bunches of radishes and cilantro, jalapeno and cucumbers in the fridge. I slice up the radishes, toss in some coarsely chopped cilantro, minced jalapeno and diced cucumber. Add to that some freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice, salt and pepper and let sit for 20 minutes.

Perfect side dish to homemade tacos or burgers or add a scoop over some mixed greens for a light lunch.

Mixing in a spoonful of Greek yogurt or light sour cream is a nice addition too.

Love all the other recipes, looking forward to trying a few.