Archive for category Sides

Not Your Average Ratatouille

ratatouille-image_1There are about a million recipes (might be a slight exaggeration, frankly) for this dish online and, in my younger years, I’m sure that I used one of them. Since then, I’ve played with it and have changed it.

I added pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, but if you prefer meatless, then it’s fine to leave it out. It will not ruin the dish. This is normally a side dish, but I’ve actually served it as a main course over rice.

It can be served sprinkled with Reggiano Parmesan. It can also be served with a couple of dollops of Mascarpone cheese. The sweetness of the cheese goes nicely with the spicy complex of the dish. Give it a try.

Ingredients

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz chopped pancetta

1/4 cup minced garlic

1 medium Vidalia onion, rough chopped

1 medium zucchini, rough chopped

1 medium yellow (summer) squash, rough chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and rough chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored and rough chopped

1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into cubes*

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz can)

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Salt & pepper to taste

Reggiano parmesan or Mascarpone Cheese for serving

Directions

Heat up the evoo in a deep skillet and add the pancetta. Cook over medium heat until the pancetta crisps, moving it around the pan so that it cooks evenly. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add the minced garlic to the oil, and cook until slightly brown and the oil is infused. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Next, add the onions, peppers, zucchini and summer squash. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the thyme and oregano and mix well. Cook for about another 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, wine, tomatoes and eggplant. Simmer uncovered for abut 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is a bit reduced. Add the pancetta, stir, and simmer for about another minute or two. Do a spice check here. Give it a taste. The pancetta is salty, so you may not need salt. The choice is yours. Add pepper, however, for sure.

Remove from the heat and serve with either the parmesan or Mascarpone.

*I “trim” my eggplant, which means cutting off the edges. I never peel my eggplant. But the choice is yours. It works either way.

 

 

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Twenty-Clove Cauliflower Bake

Cauliflower-Garlic BakeI call this Twenty-Clove Cauliflower Bake because you literally bake a head of cauliflower with twenty semi-crushed whole cloves of garlic. And I mean semi-crushed, just enough to break open the cloves a bit. I use the back of a ramekin ever so gently on the cloves.

I keep a container of already-peeled garlic in my fridge. You can get this at your local grocer for not a lot of scratch. And it’s so much easier than peeling 20 cloves of garlic by hand.

This is a great side dish for just about everything you can think of, whether you’re making pork, beef, chicken or fish. It even works as a side for pasta dishes. I made this last night with my pan-seared scallops, which is another recipe I plan to post later today.

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

20 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp fresh lemon juice (optional, but I like it)

2-3 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary

1 tsp Himalayan sea salt (Kosher or regular sea salt is also fine here)

1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Finely grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

The first thing I do is whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper and set it aside.

Break up the whole cauliflower into bite-sized florets, and gently break the garlic cloves.

Place the cauliflower and garlic in a single layer in a large baking dish. Pour the olive oil mixture over the vegetables and stir to coat. I generally drizzle a bit more olive oil on top before placing it in the oven.

Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. This allows the garlic to cook through and sweeten. It’s delicious.

If you want, sprinkle with finely grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese prior to serving.

 

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Herb-Roasted Baby Potatoes and Onions

baby-potatoesThis is one of those great side dishes that go with poultry, beef, pork or lamb. Doesn’t matter what you’re serving. I always make this at Thanksgiving, instead of opting to just throw the potatoes and onions in with the bird.

I love using a variety of baby potatoes, making this with Yukon gold, red, and purple potatoes. In some supermarkets (like mine), you can actually buy a variety bag of baby potatoes with all of these spuds included. Of course, you can also make this dish with the more traditional big potatoes. You just have to make sure to cut them into smaller pieces.

You can use either red onions or Vidalia for this recipe. Don’t chop them small. You want the onions to be more or less the same size as the potatoes.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs baby potato variety, cut in half

1 large Vidalia or Bermuda onion, cut in larger pieces

1/8 cup olive oil

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 tbsp coarse-ground black pepper

3 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 tbsp fresh thyme, removed from stems

Directions

Cut the baby potatoes in half (in quarters of some are a bit bigger), and cut the onion into pieces that are about the same size as the potatoes. Put everything into a big bowl and stir, making sure the potatoes and onions are well coated.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes and onions on a roasting pan in a single sheet. Roast for at least an hour, turning once or twice to ensure that the potatoes are roasted evenly. I often put the broiler on at the end for a few minutes to make the potatoes and onions extra crispy. Just be sure to keep your eye on the roasting pan if you do this.

Remove from the oven and adjust seasonings if necessary.

 

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Spicy Indian Dal

DahlHere’s another of those great Indian recipes. I love this stuff. When I was a kid, my family ate lentils all the time. I used to turn my nose up at lentils because I had no idea what they were or how good they truly are. To top it all off, they’re also really good for you.

Well, lentils are the main ingredient in this great dish, and it doesn’t matter what lentils you use…orange, red, green…whatever. Dahl can be used as a side dish as part of an Indian feast, or you can eat it with Pappadum or white rice. By the way, Patak makes a great cook-to-eat Pappadum that you can fry up yourself.

Ingredients

16 oz lentils

8 tbsp Canola oil

3/4 cup chopped tomatoes

1.5 cups chopped onion

3 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

3 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp cardamom

1.5 tbsp curry powder (Madras, red or hot)

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp turmeric

8 cups low-sodium chicken stock

Directions

In a large pot, heat the oil. Then, add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Do not brown.

Then, add the lentils, Jalapenos, garlic, cumin, garam masala, cardamom, salt, black pepper, sugar, ginger paste, curry powder, and turmeric. Cook for about 2 minutes until the herbs and spices meld together. Add the chopped tomatoes, and deglaze the pan with the rice vinegar.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer, and cook until the lentils become tender (about 20-30 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Taste the Dal and adjust the seasonings if need be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mattar Paneer

matter paneer2Moving onto Indian food here. Loosely translated, this is peas and cheese. It’s delicious and makes a great accompaniment to any curry dish. If you’re a vegetarian, this is great with Basmati rice.

If you’re a masochist, you can go to Whole Foods Market (or Whole Paycheck Market, as I like to call it) and spend crazy amounts of money to buy eight skimpy ounces of Paneer cheese. Or you can make it yourself for, literally, a fraction of the cost. It’s not brain surgery. It’s pretty simple. So, I suggest you check out this link and make it yourself!

The recipe also calls for Garam Masala, which is a combination of a bunch of different spices. Of course, you can always make it yourself but, frankly, you can also buy it all made. That’s what I do. I’m a purist…to a point.

Ingredients

20 oz of Paneer cheese, cubed

2 cups frozen peas

6 tbsp oil

1/2 tbsp mustard seed

1 tsp cumin seed

2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1 large onion, chopped

1/4 tsp ginger paste

2 tbsp minced garlic

3 large tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp sugar

sea salt (to taste)

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander

1/4 cup tomato sauce

4 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro

1 tbsp cornstarch

3 tbsp water

Directions

The first thing you want to do is fry the cheese. Add 3 tbsp of oil to a skillet and fry the cheese in a single layer until browned on all sides. Remove and put on a paper towel-lined dish. Set aside. Then, mix the cornstarch and water and set aside.

In a separate pan, heat 3 tbsp oil. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. Cook until they turn color and begin to “pop.”

Now, add the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook until the onions soften (but do not brown). Then, add tomatoes, salt, and sugar and cook until tomatoes soften. Once the tomatoes have softened, add the garam masala, chili powder, turmeric, coriander, cumin and paprika. Stir to mix.

Add the tomato sauce and stir, then add the peas. Cook the mixture until the peas are just tender. Do not worry if it appears that the dish is “soupy” or “watery.” That is what the cornstarch mixture is for.

Add the paneer and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until the paneer absorbs the flavor. Add the cornstarch mixture to thicken.

Move to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped cilantro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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