All posts tagged: Weeknight side dish

Oven Roasted Crispy Fingerling Potatoes

This is an ode to half sheet pans. Half sheet pans are the utility infielders of my kitchen. They’re not expensive, fancy, or flashy. They just get the job done, particularly when the job is roasting. They’re the key piece of equipment in this simple side dish – roast fingerling potatoes. When I’m planning meals, I go with the traditional set of meat, two veg, and a starch. This isn’t a recipe, per se; it’s a technique to finish the starch with a minimum of effort. Halve the potatoes, sprinkle them with salt, toss them with olive oil, and spread them out face down on the half sheet pan. Pop them in a 400°F oven for 45 minutes or so. The heavy aluminum pan crisps up the bottom of the potatoes while they cook through in the heat of the oven. And there you have it; a crispy, crunchy, starchy side dish with a minimum of effort. No half sheet pan? Any rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan will work. I’ve done these potatoes …

Grilled Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella)

When the first tomatoes of summer arrive, I’m wriggling with excitement. I eat them straight – sliced and sprinkled with a little salt. Nothing else. Don’t get between me and my fresh tomatoes. Then, a few weeks pass…the tomatoes still taste delicious and all, but…well…I get bored. They were summer’s glory, all in one red, ripe package; now they’re “Five pounds of tomatoes from the CSA? But I still have a couple left over from last week!” That’s when the recipes come out. I make salsa (lots of salsa) and gazpacho. And, when I’m grilling, I make this bread salad. It’s a perfect summer recipe – marinate the tomatoes in a garlicky red wine vinaigrette, grill the bread quickly, and sprinkle with some minced herbs. I still get the glory of summer, but it seems…new, somehow. Recipe: Grilled Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 2 minutes Equipment Grill (I love my Weber Summit…but any grill will do. My beloved 6 burner is massive overkill for this recipe.) Ingredients 2 pounds …

Pan Grilled New Potatoes

I love roasted new potatoes, creamy on the inside, with browned, crisp edges. Summer is new potato time, when they start to show up at the farmers’ market and in my CSA box. I already have the grill lit – it is summer after all – so I like to pan-roast new potatoes on my grill. My CSA started sharing new potatoes this week, finally. This has been a bummer of a summer for my CSA’s farmers. Pouring rain, a July that couldn’t get out of the 70°s…everything is behind this year. Halved new potatoes are perfect for pan grilling, small enough to finish cooking in the time it takes for the cut side to brown. I toss the potatoes with salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh herbs. Then I preheat the grill pan over direct heat, slide it over indirect heat, and pour the new potatoes onto the pan, flipping them all cut side down. I close the lid, and thirty minutes or so later, my potatoes are ready to serve. Move beyond the …

Grilled Lemon Whiskey Sour

Grilled citrus is having a moment. I’ve seen it in a bunch of places recently, and I had to try it out. Is it all for show? My next thought was – grilled lemon? Sounds perfect in a drink, something to keep me quenched while I do hard work over an open fire. Grilled whiskey sour, here we come! So, is it worth grilling a lemon? Yes, yes it is. The heat of the grill caramelizes the lemon, adding sweetness to the sour citrus. Also, I was amazed by the ease of juicing a heated lemon. I was barely pressing on my lemon squeezer, and juice was squirting everywhere.Now, don’t get me wrong. It *is* quite a show when you pull browned lemons off the grill and start mixing drinks with them. Your guests will think you’re a grilling wizard. Thanks to my association with Knob Creek, I have a bottle of Knob Creek Rye Whiskey ready whenever I want to make this drink again.Like, say, tonight, while I grill dinner? Sounds like the perfect …

Pressure Cooker Risotto with Edamame

My kids have very…um…interesting tastes. They’re picky eaters, but in strange ways. Nothing will explain better than this recipe. My plan was to make risi e bisi – Venetian rice and peas, a variation on risotto. I asked the kids – are you OK if I mix peas into the rice? Their reaction? “Eeeewww!” Then I asked: What about edamame? They eyed me suspiciously, then two out of three agreed to try it. Peas are too much. But edamame? Sure, they’ll eat soybeans. As I’ve said before, my kids are picky eaters…but, they’re picky eaters across a lot of cultures. This is where I put my “no pressure cooker, no worries” disclaimer. Not today. I’m sure there are Italian grandmothers itching to rap me on the knuckles with a wooden spoon for saying this, but…this is one case where you are much better off using a pressure cooker. Traditional risotto? Thirty minutes of stirring, adding stock a ladle at a time, waiting for the rice to absorb it before adding the next ladle…forget it. PC …

Grilled Mini Sweet Peppers

Baseball is our busy season. With three kids, we’re almost guaranteed a game every night. We have to be at the field at 5:30 (for warm ups) and the game ends at 8. Family dinners are whatever we can scrounge when we get home. I have a new secret weapon for these rushed dinners. Mini sweet peppers. They’re a gift for time-pressed cooks, because there’s no preparation – they taste great raw. Drop the bag on the table, and dig in. My wife and I are going through a two pound bag a week, and even the kids will eat them on occasion.I don’t have a mini sweet pepper problem. I can quit anytime I want. As much as I love them raw, I’ve been wondering – what if I cooked them? The other day, I was paging through Cooking Light magazine while I waiting for a haircut. I saw a skewer of mini sweets on the grill, and I nearly dropped the magazine. Why didn’t I think of that? Roasting mini sweets on the …

Grilled Asparagus with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

When you’re in a CSA, spring is the toughest season. The weather has finally turned, green leaves are appearing everywhere…but mother nature is teasing. There’s nothing for the CSA box yet. It’s too soon. The first CSA box of spring is kind of sad. Sure, there are a couple of big bags of mixed greens. And turnip greens, and beet greens, and maybe some radishes or green onions. I appreciate them after a winter of storage vegetables. But they rattle around in the bottom of a box that will be overflowing come July. When is spring really here? When the asparagus appears. Suddenly, I don’t care what else is in the box; the star of spring vegetables has arrived. Here’s my favorite way to cook asparagus – grilling. (Of course.) I toss the asparagus in a whole grain mustard vinaigrette, both before and after it’s cooked. The grains of mustard cling to the asparagus, and add little bursts of flavor and heat. Special thanks to Amy, Liz, Nate, Nikki, Hyungmo, and Alysha, my farmers at …

Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Candied Walnuts, and Lemon Zatar Dressing

The real omnivore’s dilemma – what do I do with all this kale from my CSA box? Raw kale salad is the hot recipe on the Internet. Kenji Alt – Kale and Chickpea Salad with Sumac and Onions 101 Recipes – Tuscan Kale Salad Pam Anderson – Quinoa Kale Salad with Kefir-Cumin Dressing I’m late to the party. I scoffed when I first saw this recipe. Kale is a tough green, something that needs to be cooked before you eat it. Raw kale? That will never work. What I missed was the marinade massage. You have to get your hands messy and rub the dressing all over the raw kale. Then it rests for at least a half hour before serving. Kenji Alt explains what happens in this post – the oil in the dressing removes the cuticle that protects the leaves, allowing the dressing to penetrate and break down the tough kale. *Have you guys had enough of my man-crush on Kenji yet? Well, hang on, because his two-volume “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking …

Grilled Guacamole with Sun Dried Tomatoes

It’s Super Bowl week! The Super Bowl is the fifth most important American food holiday. Time for recipes for your party! *Thanksgiving, Christmas, Forth of July, Memorial Day, Super Bowl. Actually, I think the Super Bowl has passed the Forth of July and Memorial Day, and moved up to #3, right behind Christmas… Guacamole is a Super Bowl* standby, but it has a couple of problems. The first is ripe avocados. Sometimes they are perfect; black on the outside, soft on the inside. Other times they’re not ready yet – green with black on the bumps, or even worse, an entirely green peel. Green avocado peel translates to rock hard. I solve the “not ready yet” problem by grilling the avocados. This softens them up and adds a smoky flavor to the guacamole. *I know I’m not supposed to use the copyrighted phrase “Super Bowl” if I haven’t paid licensing rights to the NFL. I’m supposed to use a euphemism like “the big game”. When their lawyers come to get me, you’ll know why. **Hopefully …

Celery Root Puree

Celery root is a vegetable imagined by H.P. Lovecraft – a vegetable out of space and time, gnarled and twisted in ways that will drive men insane! Um…sorry. I got carried away. Celery root isn’t that bad. But it does drive me insane – I get it every year in my winter CSA box, and I never know what to do with it. It looks like a bundle of roots and dirt. I was too guilty to just toss it; I would wait for it to go bad so I could throw it away guilt free…but like most root vegetables, it keeps for a very long time in the refrigerator. Who knew there was something hidden in that ball of roots worth cooking?*My readers knew, that’s who. I asked for celery root suggestions last year, and you responded with a bunch of great ideas. Celery root, or celeriac, is exactly what the name says – the root a celery plant. It’s not the root of the green stalks I think of as celery; celeriac is …

Coconut Rice

Plain white rice. It bores me. Sure, white rice is great as a neutral starch, soaking up the sauce from a stir fry or stew. But on its own? I get tired of it. Unfortunately, my kids love it, so I make a lot of Plan White Rice. And for them, it has to be Plain White Rice. (Yes, you can hear them saying it with the capital letters.) Nothing fancy is allowed, or they’ll push their bowl away and say they’re “not hungry”. Coconut rice is the exception. Replacing some of the water with coconut milk adds a subtle sweetness to the rice. Even better, it doesn’t register with the kids “not hungry” sensor – it leaves the rice looking like Plain White Rice. Until I got wild and crazy…and added shredded coconut. It seemed like a great idea, adding a little color and crunch to the rice. But I knew I had a sales job to do on the kids. The first time I made it, I gave each of them each a …

Pan Grilled Green Beans

Pan Grilling is an excellent technique to add to your grilling toolbox. Using a pan on the grill lets you cook side dishes that would either burn or fall through the grill grates. Cast iron was the original grill pan – picture a cowboy chef working over a campfire – but requires careful maintenance to avoid rust. Enameled steel is another good choice. It doesn’t even out the heat as well as cast iron, but it is lighter, and can handle the extreme heat of a grill. Enameled cast iron is more expensive, easy to care for, and spreads out the heat as well as plain cast iron. I love Weber’s new enameled cast iron griddle. The rounded shape with short handles fits well on my kettle grill.*I would like a large oval or half-moon griddle shape even more – something that fits up against the side of the grill would be perfect. Unfortunately, all the oval griddles I can find are too small. Once the grill is heated up, why waste the heat? Pan …

Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Lime Dressing

I wanted to know what else I could do with bok choy, an ingredient that always looks good at the farmers market this time of year. The answer from my loyal readers – grill it! *Why didn’t I think of that? It should have been obvious to me, Mr. Winter Grilling, Mr. Everything tastes better grilled. Recipes for grilled bok choy all use the same basic technique. Purchase baby bok choy – small heads, 4 to 5 inches long, are better for grilling.  Split them, then trim the leaves on the top so they won’t burn on the grill. Toss the bok choy in a flavorful vinaigrette, then grill until tender and cooked through. *Martha Stewart’s recipe was the first one recommended, and was a good one. What do you know – Martha knows what she’s talking about! **Kidding! Just kidding! I may have some issues with Martha, but when it comes to recipes, I love her perfectionism. Her recipes just work. Most of the recipes had an Asian flavor profile; bok choy is an …

Steam-Sauteed Broccoli with Parmesan and Bread Crumb Topping

Looking for a way to add a little pizazz to plain old steamed broccoli? Looking for a side dish that has an intriguing combination of flavors, but fast enough for a weeknight dinner? Broccoli with Parmesan and bread crumbs is a quick side dish that is fancy enough for company. *Steamed broccoli makes a regular appearance in my weeknight dinner schedule. I don’t think a meal is complete without something green, and broccoli is almost always on sale at my local grocery store. This recipe combines the soft texture and mild vegetable taste of steamed broccoli with nutty, salty Parmesan and crispy, toasted bread crumbs. The flavors are complex enough to impress adults, but the cheese and crunchy bread crumbs make the recipe kid friendly. I’ve found I can (sometimes) sell broccoli to my kids as “little trees”. I know, it’s silly, but whatever works…. Recipe: Steam-Sauteed Broccoli with Parmesan and Bread Crumb Topping Adapted from Pam Anderson How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart Equipment: Wide saucepan …

A blue bowl of multicolored cooked and chopped Swiss Chard | Swiss Chard Sauteed With Pine Nuts and Raisins

Swiss Chard Sauteed With Pine Nuts and Raisins

Swiss Chard Sautéed With Pine Nuts and Raisins For Swiss Chard Overdrive week, I needed a weeknight side dish. I sure wasn’t going to use up all my Swiss chard if I waited for the weekend. Time for a swiss chard saute! Here is a fancy update to my basic sauteed Swiss chard, using the classic Mediterranean combination of greens, pine nuts, and raisins. The sweet raisins and creamy, nutty pine nuts match well with the slightly bitter greens; I add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end for a sour edge that perks up the flavors. And, really, it is the same amount of work as my basic Swiss chard. Just add the pine nuts and raisins after sauteing the stems. That’s it – suddenly I have a much more complex side dish than the basic version. *Which makes me wonder – what took me so long to figure this one out? Puzzled by what to do with the Swiss chard in your CSA box? Try this recipe, and you’ll never leave the chard …