Are you bored with the same old side dishes for your evening meal? Its time to give your sides an update.
The best side dish recipes are those that taste great and are not overshadowed by the main course. However, the same old vegetables cooked the same old way can get boring and go uneaten.
Make some changes –
Do you find that every salad you make finds you standing at your cutting board chopping your veggies into the same shapes and sizes and then combining them in the same way all the time? Here’s a tip to make your salads and cooked veggies more interesting: change the way you cut! If you always chop your vegetables into cubes, try sticks, grating and shaving or food process your veggies into a grain-like texture. Use spiral cuts for zucchini, carrots, beets or sweet potatoes. Toss them into a salad with your other vegetables.
Add a fresh tasting dip, sauce or dressing to a vegetable and you can transform the meal completely. Mastering a variety of dressings, sauces and dips is one of the best ways to avoid boredom. They can be poured over salads, hot cooked vegetables or enjoyed with crudités and whole grain crackers.
Instead of dressing your cooked vegetables with butter, try this sauce next time:
Lemon Sauce with Herbs
Makes about 3/4 cup
- 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Lemon zest
Place mayonnaise in a small saucepan. Gradually add broth, whisking until smooth. Heat over medium-low, whisking constantly, until warmed through but not bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mustard, oil, lemon juice, parsley, tarragon, chives and pepper. Drizzle the warm sauce over cooked vegetables and garnish with lemon zest.
One of the best ways to add variety and interest to your meals is to experiment with ingredients you haven’t used before. There are so many varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables out there that it just depends on what you have available in your area at any given time of the year. Try going to different markets, grocery stores, gourmet stores and ethnic markets to find produce that you haven’t cooked with before. Asian markets are particularly abundant with exotic fruits and vegetables and you could try a new ingredient every week for months. You can also try new dried spices, dried herbs, oils, nuts, seeds or dried fruits. Keep your eyes open to see what is around and allow your senses and creativity to guide your purchases. Even if you are on a tight budget, you could likely afford to try one new ingredient per week.
Not only is eating seasonally better for your health and the planet, but it also means that for the four seasons of the year, you are exposed to and using different ingredients. This really helps to keep things interesting and gives your taste buds a makeover.
Adding a different fresh herb or spice to an old recipe can completely change a meal, as does just adding fresh herbs in the first place. A basic mixed greens salad or chopped salad will taste entirely different and far more exotic with some fresh basil, mint, coriander, dill or parsley. Don’t be afraid to try a new herb. The same goes for new spices. Spice blends in particular can be an easy and great new addition to your culinary repertoire.
Try a New Recipe and a New Food.
Red Chard with Onions, Pancetta and Raisins
- 2 bunches red Swiss chard
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock, vegetable broth or water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Separate the chard leaves from the stems. Wash the stems and chop them into ½-inch pieces; set aside. Tear the leaves into large pieces, wash them thoroughly and spin or pat dry; set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and slightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add the chard stems and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the raisins and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, cover the skillet, and simmer until the stems have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chard leaves, season lightly with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Cover the skillet and braise for 3 to 4 minutes. When the chard leaves are wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated, it is done. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Green Bean and Purple Potato Salad
- 16 ounces purple potatoes
- 8 ounces green beans, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions or 3 tablespoons snipped chives
Scrub potatoes with a stiff brush under running water. Cut potatoes in quarters. In a Dutch oven cook potatoes in a small amount of boiling, lightly salted water, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Add beans the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking. Drain; rinse with cold water until vegetables are cooled. Drain well.
In a medium bowl stir together oil, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add potato mixture and green onions. Toss mixture gently. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Braised Fennel in Cream Sauce
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the broth and vermouth in a liquid measuring cup and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and tomato paste and set aside.
Cut the stalks off the fennel bulb. Chop enough of the fennel fronds to yield 1 tablespoon; set aside. Trim the bulb and cut it in half. Remove the core. Cut each fennel half into thin wedges.
In a large sauté pan with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Arrange the fennel wedges in one layer in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the wedges are lightly browned, about 6 minutes.
Turn the wedges over with tongs. Pour the broth-wine mixture over the fennel. Cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly ajar, so that the steam can escape. Make sure the liquid is gently simmering and cook until the liquid is reduced to just a few tablespoons, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the lid, add the tomato-cream mixture and cook, gently turning the fennel wedges with tongs until the cream thickens and coats the fennel, about 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Serve the fennel garnished with the chopped fennel fronds.
Broccoli and Barley Pilaf
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup barley
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets, large florets cut in half
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 1 fresh hot pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 scallions, minced
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the barley and cook over moderate heat, stirring until toasty brown, about 10 minutes. Add the broth or water and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the barley is tender and the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
In a large deep skillet, bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets, cover and cook just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
Wipe out the skillet and heat the olive oil. Add the shallots, garlic, hot pepper and scallions and stir for 1 minute. Add the broccoli florets, season with salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Off the heat, stir in the barley and serve immediately.
Mixed Greens with Edamame, Almonds and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 6 cups torn baby salad greens
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (oil-pack), drained and cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or use the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a large salad bowl combine salad greens, sun-dried tomatoes, edamame and almonds.
For dressing, in a small glass measuring cup whisk together lemon juice, oil and black pepper.
To serve, pour dressing over salad, toss to coat. Divide salad among six individual salad plates and top each serving with a few shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Italian-Style Cabbage with Tomatoes and Pecorino Romano
- 1 pound savoy cabbage
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and cut into very thin rings
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 6 canned Italian plum tomatoes
- 1/2 cup tomato liquid from the tomato can
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Remove the core of the cabbage and cut the remaining cabbage into 1/4-inch strips. You should have about 4 firmly packed cups of cabbage strips.
Place the olive oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion rings and sauté until they start to soften and brown. Add the cabbage and garlic stirring to blend well. Crush the tomatoes with your hands over the cabbage and add them to the pan. Add the tomato liquid, vinegar and thyme. Season well with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and cook, covered, for 30 minutes or until cabbage is softened and flavors are blended.
When ready to serve, stir butter into the cabbage. Place on plates and pass the grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
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