Posts Tagged ‘great vegetable sides’

Many apologies for my delinquency! It’s been a very busy time with my foundation (Empowered by Light), and I simply haven’t found time to finish any posts. I also find winter to be a tricky time to post recipes because even though I’ve been cooking up some delicious dishes, it’s usually dark by the time they’re done, and I really hate to photograph food in anything other than natural light. That said, I have a lot to share, so please don’t be surprised if you see some posts in the near future showing dishes photographed under my kitchen lights. (Actually, a couple of the recipes below were snapped with the lights on, and you’ll see that it really detracts from the richness of color and texture. Maybe I’ll take a photography class next year to learn how to correct this.)

I’m also not sharing my turkey recipe (with sage butter) here–not because it isn’t one of my favorites, but because I only make it at Thanksgiving. And despite careful planning and preparation, I am always scrambling to get everything done on time, and can never manage to snap off a few shots to share with you. Maybe this year will be the year though, and I can share the recipe for next year!

In the meantime, here are some great side vegetable dishes, salads and desserts in case you want something other than the traditional mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing recipes.

Lentil, pomegranate gorgonzola salad with fresh herbs (recipe here)

lentil above

Haricots vert with orange and hazelnut (recipe here)

beans above

Roasted sweet potato with maple and pecans (recipe here)

swt pot dish

Brussels sprout salad with bacon, leek and pomegranate (recipe here)

sprout pom salad close

Sweet potato gratin (recipe here)

swt pot gratin

Roasted fennel, chickpeas, grapes and peppers (recipe here)

fennel, grape side

Fresh pumpkin pie (recipe here)

pumpkin slice


Squash crumble bars (recipe here)

squash bars abovePlum cake (recipe here)

plum kuchen slice

Mushroom tart (recipe here)

mush tart close


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beans above


Here’s another recipe from my favorite Ottolenghi cookbook. (I’m also trying a Middle Eastern chicken dish from the same book tomorrow night, which I’ll post if I deem it a success.) I originally made this vegetable dish as a side for our Christmas dinner, but it’s probably best suited for spring and summer meals–just because that’s when the haricots vert and snow peas are in season.

I love that this dish is bright green in color, with a great mix of textures and flavors. The thin slivers of orange zest add a twist, and balance the mellow slightly sweet earthiness of the hazelnuts. Like so many of Ottolenghi’s vegetable dishes, this one can be served warm or at room temperature.



14 oz haricots verts

14 oz snow peas (also called Chinese peas)*

1/2 cup unskinned hazelnuts

1 orange

3/4 oz fresh chives, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp hazelnut oil (or other nut oil, such as walnut)

Coarse-ground sea salt

Fresh-ground pepper

*Substitute sugar snap peas if you prefer


beans close



Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a small, sharp knife, trim the ends off the beans and snow peas, keeping the two separate. Bring water to boil in a large saucepan (fill to 1-2 inches from the top). Blanch the beans for 4 minutes, then drain using a colander and run them under very cold water. Let them drain then pat dry. Blanch the peas for just 1 minute.

While the beans are cooking, scatter the hazelnuts over a rimmed baking sheet or shallow oven-proof dish and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool until you’re able to handle them, then rub them with a clean kitchen towel to get rid of most of the skin. Chop the nuts roughly.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in strips, taking care to avoid the white pith, which is bitter. Slice each piece of zest into very thin strips using a small paring knife.

To assemble the dish, mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Adjust seasoning and serve at room temperature.




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smashed potato

Since I was raised by a Japanese mother, potatoes only made rare appearances at our table. It’s not that any of us outright disliked them–although my mother may have considered them an inferior food, but many cooks tend to cook along the same lines as their “teachers,” who in in my case was my mother.

Then I married a Dutchman. Naturally, he loves potatoes and considers them an essential part of any diet (although potatoes are one of the first things I would suggest eliminating if one was going to attempt to “diet”). I cook regular “white” potatoes very infrequently since I am predisposed to consider them an inferior food–certainly inferior in taste and nutritional value to the delicious and colorful sweet potato. However, in order to appease the Dutchman, I keep alert for interesting ways to prepare and serve traditional potatoes.

I recently stumbled upon a recipe in one of my Sunset magazine issues that I’ve modified slightly here. The recipe is similar to one I used to make where you “smash” the potatoes then sprinkle them with parmesan and parsley. These potatoes are easy to prepare and very flavorful thanks to the tapenade-style pesto.  And this dish uses small red or Yukon Gold potatoes which are certainly superior in texture and flavor to the regular old white potato. These potatoes make a nice accompaniment to grilled meats or a substantial fish dish.



12 small red or Yukon Gold potatoes (approximately 2 inches in diameter), scrubbed clean

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn

1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and patted dry

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for the pan

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (optional)



Put the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water, add a large pinch of salt and put on the stove. Bring the potatoes almost to a boil and cook until easily pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes then drain them.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the “pesto.” Puree the garlic and basil in a food processor. Add the olives and oil and pulse to a paste. Scoop everything into a small bowl and stir in the cheese.

When they potatoes are cool enough to handle, set them one at a time on a large cutting board and “smash” (slightly flatten) each one using a small pot or skillet. Place them in a lightly oiled skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Pan roast on the first side until slightly brown. Flip. Spread each potato with about 1 tbsp of the pesto and continue to cook until crisp on the bottom.

Serve warm with a sprinkle of parsley if you like.




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mashed caul closemashed caul aboveI resisted making these for months because somewhere in the back of my mind an unpleasant relationship with cauliflower lingers in my childhood memories. My mom was an excellent cook overall, but being inventive with vegetables simply wasn’t her thing. If she served cauliflower to us, it was plain and raw or steamed plain.

I’ve been doing lots with roasted cauliflower these days (see Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower and Cauliflower Apple Soup with Truffle Oil and Chopped Chives), but have been reluctant to try much more. I’ve tried the “rice” made from cauliflower, and while it was a decent and much healthier substitute for regular rice, it wasn’t anything worth writing home about.

So I guess I had low expectations when I tried making mashed cauliflower as a great base for meats in sauces and a mashed potato substitute. But no matter–mashed cauliflower is amazingly delicious!! It’s also super easy to make and you get to feel great about eating it because it’s very nutritious and far superior in taste, texture and nutrition to the ol’ white potato. Remember, doctors recommend we eat cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.) 2 to 3 times per week. Cauliflower is an excellent source of Potassium, fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6.



2-3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-sized head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
1/4 cup coconut milk
3 tbsp butter, ghee or other butter substitute
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Fresh-ground pepper


mashed caul raw



Preheat a toaster oven or regular oven to 400F. Place the unpeeled garlic cloves in a small heat-proof dish and roast until soft, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 1/2-inch of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Drop in a steamer basket and add the cauliflower florets. Cover and steam until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain off all the water and place the florets in a food processor or high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix.

Remove the papery skins from the garlic cloves by squeezing them gently and add the cloves to the cauliflower along with the remaining ingredients. Process or blend until smooth.

Serve immediately. Serves 4-6 (just 4 with my family because we fight over every spoonful).


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