Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trusty Sidekicks

I love sandwiches. I love burritos. I love steak, chicken, lamb and fish. But I don't love them all alone. I merely like them intsensely. There is a difference.

A main dish without sides is like a pitcher without a catcher. It's Ringo Starr as a solo artist. Sometimes things are just better with counterparts.

I feel the same way about my meals. I love savoring the different flavors, textures and bites of each element of my meal. I am a huge fan of sides. Whether they are potatoes, beans, salads, or bread- I will not discriminate. I believe that they are there for a reason- each one complimenting their superior. I like experimenting with my sides while at home. I take pride in choosing the most obscure, while dining out. I have come to find that the sides that I enjoy the most, are the ones that have a medley of ingredients. Sure potato chips are a nice snack. I won't turn my back on any starch ro carb, believe you me. But when mixed with something else, say, a we're talking.

Recently I have been really into salads. Not necessarily the leafy kind- but the pasta salads. The macaroni salads. The egg, tuna and chicken salads. I have relied on my Real Simple friends, as well as Martha Stewart herself, to compile some of my favorite original side salad recipes. Hold onto your seats!

Cucumber salad with sour cream and dill dressing. DON'T KNOCK IT TILL YOU'VE TRIED IT, PEOPLE. In this delicious salad, you want to very thinly chop your 4-6 cucumbers. Make sure they are the kirby cucumbers, which are longer and thinner. Halve them after you finely chop or julienne them. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of reduced fat sour cream, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of chopped dill, salt and pepper. Wisk the mixture together and and toss in the cucumbers. Sprinkle dill to garnish.

Green bean pasta salad. All you need is 4oz penne, 4 oz green beans, 1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed, 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. To assemble, cook the pasta, and add the green beans in 3 minutes before pasta is done. Drain, and run under cool water. Toss the pasta/beans with the red beans, parsley, parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve!

Apple, grape, celery and goat cheese salad. This one is absolutely delicious. I would have never thought that I would choose to make something with these ingredient, but I am so happy I did! The ingredients are as follows; 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, 2 celery stalks thinly sliced diagonally, 1 granny smith apple- cored, halved and thinly sliced, 1 cup of seedless red grapes, halved, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, a scopp of fresh goat cheese, salt and pepper to taste. To assemble, spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Chill, serve, enjoy!

Perhaps you are a potato salad fan, but want to sass it up a tad. How about a trying a warm potato salad with a dijon scallion vinaigrette? To do so, firt make the vinaigrette. You will need; 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, pinch of sugar, 3/4 cupe extra-virgin olive oil, 3 chopped whole scallions. Place all ingredients, minus the oil in a jar, and sken 'em up! Slowly pour in the oil, and stir again. Next, scrub 2 pounds of red potatoes, and slice them about 1/3 inch thick. put them in a medium saucepan with salted water, and boil them until they are tender. (Approx. 15 minutes.) Drain the potatoes, and stir in the vinaigrette. Top with freshly chopped scallions.


Recipes courtesy of Real Simple and Martha Stewart

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