The Big List of Side Dishes, Part 1
I'm a side dish kind of person. Oh, I'll pick at the main meal, but if I had my druthers, my table would be filled with side dishes. I like to try a little of this and that.
Here are the ones I've served over the years. Since there are so many to choose from, I'm going to break up this post into two parts. This way too, I have room to share my stuffing recipe.
Mashed potatoes: Nowadays to save on time, I use Idahoan brand mashed potato mix. (I know, it's a cheat.) But it's quick, easy, and they come in a variety of flavors. But if you want a classic mashed potato you want to use Yukon gold potatoes, milk, butter, and sour cream. This is the recipe I use.
Peas and onions: I see a lot of recipes with diced/sliced onion, but for a feast, you'll want to use pearl onions. The presentation is so much prettier. For more flavor, boil the peas in chicken stock. Here's a basic recipe.
Asparagus: I generally only make asparagus in the spring when it's fresh out of the garden. I've never been fond of frozen asparagus. If you can find it fresh, boil until it's al dente, drizzle with butter, salt, and cracked pepper. For more drama, you can bread and fry the asparagus--Greg likes this one. Or wrap each asparagus in bacon and roast in the oven. At the finish, grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top. Don't forget the lemon wedges.
Roasted country potatoes: This might be seen as peasant food but whenever I serve this, it's the first to go. Use small red, or yellow potatoes, slice into quarters to fill a big bowl. Drizzle olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and garlic powder. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Test for tenderness. These are a family favorite.
Brussels Sprouts: I like Brussels sprouts...sometimes. It's easy to end up with bitter Brussels sprouts. The bitterness comes from overcooking them. Cut them in half, drizzle with olive oil, and roast them in a 450 degree oven until caramelized and fork tender. You can also cook them on a stove top in a cast iron skillet. Make sure to get the skillet super hot.
Baby carrots: Boil them until tender. I used to add a smidge of sugar on more mature carrots, but carrots nowadays are pretty sweet already.
Scalloped Potatoes: These are always pretty in a fancy spread. This is the recipe I use.
Squash casserole: Another favorite at our house. I use the Copykat recipe for Black-Eyed Pea Restaurant's squash casserole. It's sweet and homey. Serve it with cornbread or rolls and you'll feel like you're at your grandma's.
I hate to disappoint, but I'm not a baker so I rarely bake rolls from scratch. The exception is cornbread. Even I can't mess up cornbread.
Cornbread can be jazzed up with whole corn, jalapenos, cheese, diced onion, or even bacon. There are a lot of variations on cornbread. This recipe is a good one. Buttermilk gives it a richer flavor than plain milk.
That's it for this edition. Next week, I'll expand the list to include my recipe for stuffing/dressing. It's another can't miss dish that always goes for seconds.
**Our plans for having friends over for Thanksgiving have fallen through so I guess we'll be solo this year. Our dinner will be simple. Duck, peas, squash casserole, roasted potatoes, spinach salad, and rolls. I'll likely make a sweet potato mash for Greg.
But, a few days ago I was invited to a ladies night. I generally don't attend "ladies night". Invariably, conversation circles around girly stuff, and I'm not girly.
This particular ladies night was different. We talked about cows and goats, pets, pesky deer, gardens, and how we use our acreage for tax exemptions. We even discussed books and I was glad to learn I wasn't the only one who reads the dictionary for fun.
Most of us are in our 60s+ and the only pictures that were passed around were of our dogs and cats. No grandkids. I thought that was funny.
I have to show you a picture of the spread that was laid out though. It was so gorgeous nobody wanted to touch it at first. Better than that, it was absolutely delicious. There was a goat cheese with a dried blueberry topping that I wasn't going to bother with, but someone talked me into it. It was fantastic! I can't wait to make goat cheese next year with blueberries. Everything on that tray was amazing.
I'm sorry I didn't get a picture, but another neighbor is a professional baker and she brought these exquisite petit fours. People are just too talented.
I'm really glad I went.