Thursday, April 05, 2007

Simple Sides

Hmph. It's Spring Break here, but it sure doesn't feel like it! As I sit here and look out the window, it's 35º with a windchill of 25º, it's windy and blowing snow. Double hmph. And yuck.

One thing I don't tend to blog about much is side dishes. This is because I don't usually follow a given recipe for sides, I just throw things together. Still, at least for me, side dishes can be the hardest part about getting dinner on the table - who wants to mess with complicated sides when it's hard enough to get the main dish together? And how many nights in a row can one eat salad, our go-to side?

So, for anyone else who has a tough time with sides, I would like to start sharing more ideas. They may not always be out and out recipes - more like just an ingredient list with approximations, but hopefully they will help inspire you think up different ideas for serving those green beans or sweet potatoes.

One of my family's absolute favorites is sliced, roasted sweet potato - "chips", if you will. I was always very wary of trying sweet potatoes until I discovered that I liked them with savory ingredients, not sweet. Our favorite way to prepare them is with a little garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, chipotle powder and Penzeys' .

Spicy Roasted Sweet Potato Chips

Another favorite is oven-roasted potatoes. I think I've posted about these potatoes before, but now I have better pictures! The trick here is to cook them at a very high heat - 500º - this will create a soft and creamy inside with a nicely browned, crisp outside. And at this high heat, it only takes about 15-20 minutes for them to roast, instead of 40 minutes or longer. Again, just a simple toss with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs of your choice - in this case, rosemary - and you're ready to go.

The potatoes before they hit the hot oven.

Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Feta is a great way to dress up a simple salad. We often do tomato and cucumber salads tossed with a little balsamic, but that can get boring. But just add a little feta or fresh mozzarella and things get a little more interesting. Maybe even a few kalamata olives with the feta......

Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

That's all for now. I hope to expand our side dish repetoire and have more recipes to post in the near future.

Hmph. Stupid weather. Maybe I'll bake something to bring to my in-laws for our visit this weekend............


  1. That cucumber salad looks SO good. It WILL be making a show on my table even if my roomate doesn't eat tomatoes! I think I'm doing something like those new potatoes for Easter.

  2. Claire - I don't know how people can go through life not liking tomatoes! My DS is on a canned tomato hating thing lately - it's driving me nuts - I use canned tomatoes A LOT. But at least he'll still eat them fresh!

  3. Found your blog through CL. It's great!
    I have a hard time with sides as well. One of my favorite "go-to" sides is sauteed greens (spinach, escarole, kale, chard) with garlic. I add a splash of balsamic vinegar just before serving.

  4. Amy - Thanks. Yum - I love sauteed spinach. I haven't had as much luck with other greens, but I'd be very willing to give them another go.