Tidewater Kitchen - October 2010

 

Choosing Sides
by
Pamela Meredith-Doyle

 

Often the most difficult part of the menu planning is selecting the side dishes. If you are stuck on making the same things over and over, why not try something new? Side dishes are usually no-frills food, but it is easy to spark new flavors in old favorites with the addition of a new cheese, a fruit with a vegetable or the addition of nuts. You can also expand your choices to include caramelized onions or portobello mushrooms. These recipes are a delicious change of pace.

Minted Green Beans and Onions
Serves 6
The addition of mint makes this a new dish!
1-1/2 pounds fresh stringless green beans, washed and trimmed
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 t. sea salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
3/4 cup red onion, chopped
Snap beans into approximately 1-inch pieces. Cook in small amount of boiling water for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain beans, plunge into ice water, drain again and pat dry. Chill.
Combine the next 6 ingredients in a food processor or blender and process for 20 seconds or until well blended. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
To serve, arrange beans in serving bowl.
Top with toasted walnuts and red onion. Just before serving, pour dressing over green beans and toss well.

Caramelized Onions
Serves 4-6
4 medium Vidalia onions, sliced
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
Dash turmeric or saffron
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
1 T. chopped fresh chives
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil

Cut onions into ¼-inch-thick slices, and separate into rings.
Combine onions, salt and next 5 ingredients, tossing to coat.
Melt butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring constantly for 25 minutes or until onions are lightly browned and tender.

Sweet Potatoes with Maple-Ginger Sauce
Serves 4
A simple topping gives sweet potatoes a delicious upgrade from a basic potato.

4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
2 T. maple syrup
1/4 t. sea salt
1-1/2 t. fresh ginger *
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Bake sweet potatoes on a baking sheet at 375◦ for 1 hour.
Stir together the sour cream and next 3 ingredients. Spoon over split baked potatoes and sprinkle with toasted pecans.

*Tip – To mince fresh ginger easily, first peel the outer layer with a knife or vegetable peeler. Then cut into narrow strips and mince, rocking the blade across the ginger strips. One tablespoon of fresh ginger equals one-half teaspoon of powdered or ground ginger.

Coleslaw
Coleslaw is often called cole slaw or “cold slaw,” but the proper name is coleslaw!
It is best known as a Southern accompaniment to barbecue, hot dogs and fried catfish. The Southern version often contains shredded carrots and a dressing made from mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar. Some versions contain onion, peppers, apple or pineapple. However, its traditional cousin had a dressing based on vinegar (a vinaigrette).

The salad:
1 large head of green cabbage, grated or sliced very finely (about 10 cups)
3/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
3/4 cup grated carrot

Combine all in a large, heatproof bowl and set aside.

The dressing:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup expeller pressed canola oil
1/2 t. salt
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 t. celery seed
1 t. dry mustard

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling and stir constantly. When the mixture boils, reduce heat to simmer until sugar dissolves.
Pour hot mixture over salad ingredients and toss thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Orange Beets
Serves 12
May be prepared the day before and reheated in the oven.

3 15-oz. cans small whole beets, drained, reserve liquid
2 T. cornstarch
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
1 small can frozen orange juice
concentrate
6 oz. drained beet liquid
3/4 cup cider vinegar

Combine cornstarch and sugar in a saucepan. Blend in orange concentrate, beet liquid and vinegar. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and clear. Add beets, reheat and serve or place in double boiler over simmering water to keep hot until serving time.

Carrots with Grapes
Serves 12
Crunchy grapes add texture to these delicious carrots.

2 lbs. fresh small carrots
2 t. dried basil or 2 T. fresh basil
1/2 cup butter
3 garlic cloves, pressed
Pinch celery salt
1 t. crushed chervil
3 cups seedless white grapes
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place carrots in large saucepan with basil and enough water to cover and cook until just tender; drain. Combine butter, chervil, garlic and celery salt and add to carrots. A few minutes before serving, stir in grapes, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Heat only until grapes are hot and serve.

Easy Mac ’n Cheese
Serves 6
Try a different cheese in your mac ’n cheese – you will be surprised at the results!

8 oz. cooked elbow macaroni
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup or 3 oz. crumbled
Gorgonzola cheese
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 T. butter, melted

Combine milk and Gorgonzola cheese in a large saucepan; cook over medium heat until cheese melts. Stir in sour cream, pepper and salt; stir in cooked macaroni. Pour into greased shallow 1½-quart casserole dish.
Mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and melted butter together and sprinkle over macaroni. Bake at 350◦ for 30 to 45 minutes or until brown on top.

Sauteed Baby Portobello Mushrooms
Serves 12
This side is a delicious change of pace and is so easy!

3 lbs. fresh sliced baby Portobello mushrooms
14 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 t. sea salt
dash of freshly ground pepper

Sauté half the garlic in 1/3 cup of olive oil in an extra large skillet over medium heat until tender. Add half the mushrooms and half the parsley; cook for 5 minutes until tender and browned. Remove to a serving dish; sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Repeat the procedure and serve immediately.

Roasted Root Vegetables
Make sure the vegetables are thoroughly coated with oil before roasting. There are many vegetable combinations that can be enjoyed. I think beets are the most beautiful of all the root vegetables as well as the most underutilized!

2 turnips, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 acorn squash, seeds removed and sliced in wedges (skins can remain)
1/2 cup olive oil
5 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and chopped with pizza cutter
Sea salt to taste
2 bunches of beets, stems removed and beets cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

Preheat oven to 400◦.
Toss all the vegetables except the beets in olive oil, rosemary and sea salt. Place the vegetables in a jellyroll pan, reserving some oil for the beets.
Spread the vegetables in l layer and roast them for about 30 minutes.
While the rest of the vegetables are cooking, toss the beets in the same bowl, coating with the remaining oil, rosemary and sea salt. Keep the beets separate because they will bleed their color onto the other vegetables if tossed together.
Place the beets on the jelly roll pan with the other vegetables and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.
Remove from oven, toss with sea salt to taste and place vegetables on a platter.
Tip: Red potatoes and carrots can be substituted for other vegetables.