Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

Best Butter Beans
June 17, 2011

Voluptuous, healthy, easy, vegetarian and special. Entertaining special, even. The white beans get so creamy and a touch decadent with the butter. Really, what could be better? Oh hush, you can’t put bacon in everything.

A wee bit of chutney right in the dish imparts a certain something too: a vague, exotic sweetness, a slightly floral quality that makes diners squint up their eyes a bit and tilt their heads – “m mm, what is that?” It’s a little bit amusing to let them guess for a while.

I use tinned beans for the convenience and spontaneity. Do as you do.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp curry, paste or powder (or more, if you’d like)
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp butter
1 tbsp chutney, any kind you like (I happened to have the classic Major Grey at hand)
2 540 ml (19oz) tins butter, canellini or other white beans
A little squeeze of lemon juice
Chopped cashews (optional)

Heat the olive oil on medium heat and sautee the onion, carrot and celery until soft. Add the garlic and continue on, stirring, until everything’s really, really soft. Add the turmeric, curry and tomato paste and let it ‘cook out’, as the TV chefs put it, for another coupla minutes.

Now simply add the butter and the beans and the chutney and stir it all about until the butter has melted and coated everything and it’s all hot. If you feel your beans need a bit of loosening up give them a shot of veggie stock or water.

Just to brighten it up a little I squeeze a little lemon juice at the last stir before serving. And because I love my Mamma, I even chopped up some cashews for texture and flair. I know, fancy pants, I.


Braised Brussels Sprouts
May 31, 2011

Simplicity itself, this side dish, and oh so delicioso.

In my case, with a hunk of good bread and a bit of gooey cheese, this was lunch. Oh, it is with a pathetic yearning that I recall this meal: Ivy and her dad (those crucifer haters) were away that afternoon; the house was tidy-ish; the Saturday paper was pregnant with fluff and puzzles and I strolled to the grocery store with the virtuous posture of the recently yogafied and nothing but sprouts on my mind. Happiness.

15 minutes. Serves four normal people.

Rinse and trim the stem ends of a dozen Brussels sprouts and remove any loose leaves. Halve them and put them in a large pan or wok. Add water so that they are less than half covered (about 1/2 a cup) and a scant tablespoon of butter. Set them over medium-high heat and leave to simmer. When the water is almost all evaporated, test a sprout with the tip of a sharp knife, and add a bit more water if needed. When the water has done its job the butter is left to brown and glaze. Keep an eye on them and toss them around a bit. Some toasted sliced almonds would have been beautiful here, but I was far to gluttonous and impatient for such niceties.

Popcorn Cauliflower
May 8, 2011

As I type this I am becoming aware of a new limb. Here is my left hand, tap tap tapping. And here is my right. Tap tap tap. But wait, what mysterious hand is feeding my mouth, quite independently of my conscious mind but apparently in cahoots with that part of the brain concerned with snacking (the nibbley lobe)?

I’ve been munching on roasted cauliflower all afternoon and even when I told myself I’d had enough and moved them into the kitchen, my mysterious third hand reaches out and pops some in my mouth every time I walk by. How refreshing to be suffering from a super-healthy addiction.

The most important thing about roasting is oven temperature; 375°f is ideal for almost everything and it’s a very good habit to allow at least five or eight minutes of preheating. Nothing good can come of torturing our food before cooking it. 

Meanwhile, divide a big, beautiful head of cauliflower into florets and coins and toss with 1 1/2 tbsps olive oil and 1 tsp salt. They are delicious roasted just like that. But as your dependence grows you will crave some variety: try curry powder and lemon juice (my current fave) or smoked paprika and hot sauce (the chicken-wing treatment). I used about a tablespoon of each, but these measures are, as always, to taste. Spread them out on a baking sheet or similar shallow thing, allowing some space betwixt so they roast and don’t steam each other. Check on them at 12, 15 and 18 minutes. They’re ready when they’re golden but haven’t lost their spunk.

Quinoa and Broccoli(ni)
March 22, 2011

Salad? Side dish? Lunch? Check, check and check. Also easy, nutritious and scrumptious. And seeing Ivy finally loving broccoli was worth it at twice the effort. Broccolini was a bit of a revelation at our house, we adore it and eat it often.

1 small bunch broccolini or 1-2 stalks broccoli
1 small onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup quinoa (I used organic red and white this time)
2 cups chicken or veggie stock or water (or 1 cup of each)
small handful chopped fresh parsley
juice and grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Steam the broccoli until tender, (the time will depend on the vegetable – I cook broccolini whole and chop it before adding it to the quinoa, whereas I divide the broccoli into florettes and peel and chop the upper part of the stem before putting it in the steamer. Just don’t overcook it – you lose nutrients and texture)

Rinse the quinoa well. Add it to the stock or water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for 10 – 13 minutes, stirring occasionally  or until the liquid is absorbed and the grain is fluffy. When the quinoa is ready, transfer it into a large mixing bowl to cool.

Meanwhile chop the onion finely and sautée it gently in the olive oil in a small pan. When it smells good and sweet and has a bit of colour, add it, along with the parsley and the lemon to the quinoa. Mix and serve, garnished with the almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan. May I stress lightly toasted? They do not appear in this picture because they were uncooperative. Twice. Hence the lemon curl. But do you use them, they are a great finish for this lovely dish.

Keen Wha?

Yours will be even prettier.


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