Brussels sprouts was one veggie that I steered clear of for years, mostly because they were never cooked properly and/or lacked any depth of flavor. But when I met Russ, he made a side of them for some home cooked meal when we first started dating, and I became a convert.
Over the following decades, we have often added Brussels sprouts to a menu, trying a whole host of various recipes. This one is a simple sauté of shallots, sprouts, and garlic, that are then browned in the oven and tossed with balsamic vinegar, and thyme. Toasted walnuts were also an ingredient, but not in this house as My Man detests them. You could always make some and serve them separately for those who want a nutty crunch.
I “Lynnized” the recipe to fit our preferences and pare back the 6-8 servings to 3-4. The ingredients list and directions speak to my changes.
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves removed, base trimmed, sprouts cut in half
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 large shallots, peeled and thickly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled, sliced in half
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the shallots, spread them out in an even layer, lower the heat to medium low, and let them cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned.
Add the Brussels sprouts and the garlic to the shallots. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts begin to brown.
Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Place in oven, uncovered. Roast at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through and caramelized on the edges.
Remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the thyme. Stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
We were Going to the Greek for dinner one Sunday evening when son David, and his lovely Greek girlfriend Vyktorya (Vikki) were paying a visit. It’s always a little tricky with Vikki (rhyme intended) who was a staunch vegan for quite some, but now does eat meat on occasion. Lucky for us lamb is one she enjoys. (Something to do with the Greek ancestry perhaps?)
Once we settled on the entrée, we had to come up with sides that would complement the Greek flavors of the lamb marinade. Potatoes were kind of a no-brainer, and Russ quickly settled on these Best Roasted Greek Potatoes that he found themediterraneandish.com website.
To achieve just the right texture, first the potatoes are baked covered for 40 minutes or so in plenty of liquid—olive oil, lemon juice, and broth. As they are covered, the potatoes tenderize as they absorb steam and take in the perfectly flavored liquid.
A little secret ingredient here is a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese added midway through baking.
4 large baking potatoes, peeled, washed, cut into wedges
8 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juice of
1 ¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix together spices. Set aside.
Place potato wedges in a large lightly-oiled baking dish and sprinkle with the spice mix. Toss potatoes together briefly to evenly distribute spices.
In a bowl, whisk together chopped garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and broth. Pour into baking dish with potatoes.
Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the 400 degree F-heated oven for 40 minutes.
Remove from oven briefly. Uncover and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the potato wedges. Return to oven uncovered to roast for another 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and have turned a nice golden brown with a little crust forming.
To add more color, place the dish under the broiler for 3 minutes or so, watching carefully.
Remove from oven. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.
This savory herb-flecked sauté tastes just like stuffing, but without the bread—goodbye carbs! It embraces celery’s crisp texture and distinctive flavor. Found in a decade-old issue of Fine Cooking Magazine, it intrigued us enough to include as a side dish for our Smothered Chicken with Bourbon and Miso.
One rarely thinks of cooked celery as the star of a side dish. It typically takes a back burner as a mix-in to salads, additive to soups, or an accompaniment to hot wings. But here it shines and surprises. We have now added the recipe to our favorites and plan to serve to guests, especially those who are vegetarian.
Butternut squash is a fall heavyweight in my opinion. It pairs well with a variety of flavors and can reinvent itself either sweet or spicy. In this case, we are talking naturally sweet which really develops as it roasts. And you all know that butternut squash is very nutritious with the flesh full of vitamins A and C.
It was a gift from our compost. I noticed squash vines starting to grow in our herb bed backed by a trellised fence. We hadn’t planted any squash so I knew it came from when we composted the garden earlier in the season. Plus the rosemary was freshly picked from our herb garden. Thank you Mother Nature!
Oops, I completely forgot to add the 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar. It really wasn’t needed taste-wise because our squash was naturally sweet, but the sugar was more a conductor for caramelization. Although our cubes were lightly browned without it.
This recipe calls for a specific amount of squash, so you may have some leftover. Ours weighed in at 3.3 pounds—a good bit larger than the recipe called for. After peeling and seeding, your squash will lose 2-3 ounces of weight. For example, a 3-pound squash will yield about 2 pounds 13 ounces of flesh. This recipe calls for 2 pounds of diced squash, you’ll want to look for a squash that is around 2 pounds, 3 ounces in weight.
If you have leftovers like us, you may want to sauté the extra cubes and use them in a future frittata, salad or side dish. The toughest part of this recipe is peeling the squash, so it is permissible to buy already cubed, just make sure they are cut to 3/4″ cubes and uniformly sized.
Root vegetables often get a bad rap, so says Cook’s Country. I agree, they can be hard and fibrous and have often been prepared and presented in unappealing ways. But with a creative glaze and tempered cooking, this Roasted Glazed Parsnips and Carrots with Orange and Thyme recipe breaks out of its place as a humble side dish and gets ready to shine.
Cooking root vegetables in liquid transforms their fibrous textures into silky, tender morsels. Root vegetables do an amazing job of absorbing the flavor of the liquid they are cooked in. Chicken stock and water mixed with ingredients like onions, herbs and vinegar creates just the right addition. Sweeteners such as jellies, jams and syrups help bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetables and help tame any bitter flavors.
Our mistake was cutting the entire recipe in half. For only two of us, two pounds of veggies seemed like a lot, so we made it with a half-pound each of carrots and parsnips. What we shouldn’t have done was decrease all of the other ingredients too because ours ended up being a little too dry, not the silky, tender morsels described.
One other note, in Step 3, we would lengthen the time covered in foil to 25-30 minutes to allow the vegetables to steam in the liquid, then remove the foil and continue roasting for another 20 minutes or so. Anyway, we do plan to make again—but with all of the initial ingredients.
Roasted Glazed Parsnips and Carrots with Orange and Thyme
What do you do with a red cabbage leftover from a Farmers Market Arrangement made for your garden club? I know this is a dilemma for many of you…
Kidding aside, cooler October temps invite the braising season to commence. And this is one of those dishes that’s even better the following day, so go ahead and make it when you have time and then serve it on a weeknight with quick cooking chops of some sort.
Be sure to soak the shredded cabbage in cold water as suggested in Step 1. The cabbage absorbs water, which is then released in cooking, and helps to steam the cabbage for utmost tenderness.
We concur, this is probably THE BEST braised cabbage we’ve ever had, and no sugar!
Tomatoes are another summer staple that explodes with a variety of luscious choices by season’s end. In fact, every year in our raised bed herb garden we are fortunate to get several “bonus plants” compliments of seed from our compost.
Fresh, snappy late-summer beans are a fleeting pleasure on their own, but jazz them up with the sweet acidity of grape tomatoes and crackly breadcrumbs, you’ve got a winning combination. The layers of colors (especially if you include yellow wax beans) and crisp and juicy textures effortlessly upgrade any main, such as our herb-marinated grilled bone-in pork chops.
As soon as I eyeballed this recipe in our latest Martha Stewart Living magazine, I knew it was going to make an appearance on our dining table within days. Unfortunately I could not access any yellow wax beans, so instead I used a combination of red and yellow grape tomatoes for that tri-color effect.
A few weeks earlier we made bead crumbs from some leftover crusty bread and put it in the freeze until such time we would need them again. Well this seemed like the perfect occasion, although the crumb was much finer than asked for here, still we went ahead with the recipe and it was great! They were a side dish to those grilled pork chops, but hardly played second fiddle.
12 oz. green beans and/or yellow wax beans, trimmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 slices rustic bread (5 ounces), crusts removed, torn into large pieces
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 oz. cocktail tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes, or a combination, halved
1 oz. Manchego cheese, finely grated (1/4 cup)
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving platter; lightly drizzle with oil.
Pulse bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form (you should have 2 cups). In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil and butter over medium. Add breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in breadcrumbs. Top beans with warm tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese; serve.
These Salmon Burgers with Pickled Cucumbers paired with a side of Honeydew Salad with Peanuts and Lime were a match made in Heaven. Even though they came from two different sources, the fact that they shared common ingredients ensured they’d make a perfect couple. To make it gluten-free, either omit the bun altogether (which we did for the leftovers the next day), or use a gluten-free variety.
I’ll preface the recipes by saying there is a bit of prep work for both, so it comes in handy to have a cooking partner to speed up the process. As far as the herb watercress topping, we scaled back the amount of herbs from 2 cups to 1/2 cup, which when mixed with the watercress was plenty for 4 servings.
The original recipe indicated to use three Persian cucumbers. Well we can never find them in our area, so we bought a long, seedless English cucumber, using only half of it. The half was then cut crosswise into two more pieces and shaved very thin using a hand-held mandoline.
The food processor is your friend when making these salmon burgers, but the key is to make sure the salmon isn’t too smooth when processing so the patties can hold their shape. The patties stayed together perfectly, the rice flour gave a golden, crispy crunch and the flavors were a perfect combination. Now we both love salmon, but several reviewers said even some family members who typically avoid salmon, loved these!
5 scallions, green parts finely chopped, white parts thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2 Tbsp. plus ⅔ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
4 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
1/2 large English cucumber, shaved very thin lengthwise
½ serrano chile, very thinly sliced crosswise
1 tsp. sugar
¼ cup (or more) vegetable oil
½ cup rice flour
2 cups tender herbs, such as torn mint and/or cilantro leaves with tender stems
¾ cup trimmed watercress
2 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds (optional)
4 brioche buns, lightly toasted
Cut salmon into 2″ pieces. Transfer one-third of salmon (about 8 oz.) to a food processor and process, scraping down sides, until mixture is very smooth and paste-like. Add remaining salmon and pulse 4–5 times until pieces are no bigger than ¼” (be careful not to make it too smooth). Transfer to a large bowl.
Mix in scallion greens, ginger, garlic, 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise, and 1 tsp. salt; toss to combine. Form mixture into 4 patties about ¾” thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour or up to 3 (you’ll want to chill the patties so that they hold their shape before getting cooked).
Meanwhile, mix sesame oil, 1 tsp. vinegar, remaining ⅔ cup mayonnaise, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl; set aside until ready to use.
Toss cucumbers with a pinch of salt in another small bowl. Massage with your hands for a few minutes, squeezing lightly to expel water; discard cucumber liquid. Add chile, sugar, and 2 tsp. vinegar to bowl; toss to coat. Chill until ready to assemble burgers.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high until oil begins to shimmer. Remove salmon patties from fridge right before cooking and sprinkle with flour just to coat the outside (you won’t need all of it). The patties will be a little loose but you can always pat them back together with your hands before they hit the pan. Working in batches if necessary, and adding more oil in between batches if needed, cook patties until golden brown, about 3–4 minutes on each side (you don’t want to overcook).
Toss herbs, watercress, sesame seeds, if using, scallion whites, remaining 1 tsp. vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Build burgers with buns, patties, reserved special sauce, herb mixture, and pickles.
Melon salads are ideal hot-weather fare, but they’re prone to some common pitfalls: namely, watered-down dressings and garnishes that slide to the bottom of the salad bowl. Because honeydew melons vary in sweetness, start by tasting your melon to determine how much sugar to incorporate into the dressing. Ours was so sweet we didn’t need any sugar.
To counter the abundant water contributed by the melon, this makes an intense dressing with assertive ingredients such as lime juice, fish sauce, shallot, and Thai chiles, but no oil, which would only be repelled by the water on the surface of the melon. Instead richness is added with dry-roasted peanuts, which—when chopped fine—adhere to the surface of the melon pieces and hold on to the dressing.
Combine lime juice and shallot in large bowl. Using mortar and pestle (or on cutting board using flat side of chef’s knife), mash Thai chiles, garlic, and salt to fine paste. Add chile paste; sugar, if using; and fish sauce to lime juice mixture and stir to combine.
Add honeydew, ¼ cup cilantro, ¼ cup mint, and ¼ cup peanuts and toss to combine. Transfer to shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro, remaining 1 tablespoon mint, and remaining 1 tablespoon peanuts and serve.
This isn’t your grandma’s coleslaw by any stretch. We’ve taken the idea of slaw and turned it on its “head” to perk up your tastebuds and shout “look at me!” It contains both chipotle powder and a jalapeño, but if you think that might be going too far out on a limb for some of your guests, just scale them back a touch, or use one or the other.
Please don’t use bottled lime juice. Just don’t. The fresh ingredients in this recipe are really what makes it so special. Bottled lime juice will not give it the same fresh, tangy taste. On that note however, we decided next time to scale back on the amount of lime zest, and zest only one of them, but use the juice from both.
A large mandoline is worth its weight in gold when cutting the cabbage and onion into sliver-thin slices. When it comes to the amount of mayo, I suggest starting with a half-cup’s worth and increasing the amount to suit your personal preference.
So next time you’re asked to bring a side dish to a BBQ or potluck, this just might be your ticket in…