Posts tagged ‘cauliflower’

December 7, 2011

Sanity Saving Sides

There was a time in my life when I would spend hours reading cookbooks seeking creative side dishes. How could I come up with something different, something unique to accompany dinner?

That time has passed.

I have moved into a time in my cooking life where I can (or have to be able to?) look at the veggies in my fridge or on my counter or in my cupboard, and wing it.

And, this is a gift on weeknights when getting dinner onto the table between/before/or after evening activities is a challenge.

So, when I have a head of cauliflower and half a red onion in the fridge, I know that if I turn the oven on to 425 degrees or so, I can simply chop up the veggies, drizzle with olive oil, and whatever spices I’m in the mood for, I’ll have one side dish ready in about 20-25 minutes or so.

And those green beans from the market? After completing the meditative task of removing the ends, and cutting them into bite-sized pieces, I can sautee them in sesame oil and finish them with sesame seeds, and everyone will eat  them … even the Picky Eater.

While the cauliflower is roasting, and the green beans are sauteeing, I can drain the red-leaf lettuce, tear it into bite-sized pieces, add some cilantro and dill and walnuts and dried cranberries, and voila I have a salad.

Preparing one side dish used to seem very complex, and required lots of complicated decision-making — at home and at the store. But now, chopping, roasting or sauteeing, and seasoning to taste, works pretty well.

What are your favorite go-to side dishes that you make during the week?

October 27, 2010

Reading on the Metro Led to Dinner

…those of you in the DC Metro area know that train ride into or home from work can provide you with lots of time for rumination, and if you’re really lucky it can even lead you into inspiration for dinner, when your planning time at home has been taken over by all the other tasks vying for your attention ….

Thank goodness I remembered to put my new Eating Well in my briefcase because I had plenty of time to browse on my way home. In the back of my head, I knew that I needed to use the butternut squash and the cauliflower in the fridge, and so I was quite pleased to see the Braised Winter Vegetable Pasta in the Healthy in a Hurry section.  Our variation was not vegan, nor vegetarian, because we used chicken broth and added in some ham for seasoning, but it turned out quite tasty.  Even the older boys who proclaimed — “We don’t like cauliflower” — devoured their bowls quickly.

Our version is below:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot big enough for pasta.  Add 1 small onion diced, 1/2 cup of good ham diced, and 1 teaspoon of drided, rubbed sage.  Stir until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup of dry white wine (okay I used a sweeter wine than perhaps was envisioned in the recipe, and added an extra cup of broth to cover); bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then add 8 ounces of whole-wheat pasta (we used rotini), 2 cups of bite-sized cauliflower, 2 cups bite-sized butternut squash cubes, salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is not quite tender, about 10 minutes.  Then Eating Well recommends sitrring in 1 10-ounce bag of frozen lima beans — we didn’t have any, but we did have a box of frozen peas, so we added that to the pasta – veggie – broth mix.

Then, the steaming bowls were topped with grated Fontina cheese, and rapidly consumed by all (except the Picky Eater, of course, her pasta was plain with cheese).

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