|10/8/2021 2:09:00 PM|
Squashing the boring sides
If you’re like me when it comes to dinner, sides can be challenging. I can usually figure out a main dish to enjoy for dinner pretty easily, but then at times I struggle with sides. I find myself defaulting at times to just canned or frozen veggies, which are fine, but just get kind of bland and old after a while.
A few years ago, I started dabbling in sweet potatoes as a side and I really enjoy them, and the way I prepare them, they aren’t bad for you, so I’ll share one of those today (I know most like them with brown sugar and marshmallows in a dessert-like dish).
Recently, I have started adding squash varieties to my side dishes as well, and I’ve started to find more and more good recipes for them. It really helps to break up your standard green beans, corn or potatoes side that we use a lot.
These will mostly be simple, easy and fast, because I am aware people don’t necessarily have an hour and a half to prepare sides on a weekday night. You don’t want to labor over your side dish more than your main.
One quick tip before we start: most of these recipes call for sea salt and coarse black pepper. I can’t tell you how much difference it makes using coarse salt and pepper. The bigger flakes provide more flavor for these types of dishes and it just makes your dish pop more than your standard table salt and pepper shakers.
I buy the coarse sea salt boxes and then a large shaker of coarse black pepper. Once you’ve used about 1/3 of the black pepper, pour the coarse sea salt into the shaker and mix them up, so then anytime a recipe calls for coarse salt and pepper, you have a shaker at the ready with both. I use mine almost every meal.
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This is a simple recipe and I’ve actually included two different ways to prepare it using the exact same ingredients.
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped, and cubed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley, optional, for garnish
FOR ROASTED: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the squash cubes on the baking sheet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper. Roast 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
FOR FRIED: Follow the ingredients the exact same way, but just put the oiled cubes into a large pan on medium-high heat. Fry in the pan for 14-17 minutes or until desired softness is reached.
My tip to do them perfectly on the stove top is to cover them for the first 10 minutes to soften them up a bit and get them to the right tenderness, and then turn the heat up a bit higher for the last few minutes to give them that nice golden, roasted look.
You want a cube that is soft on the inside but still firm and roasted on the outside.
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This recipe is very similar to last one in preparation, but just using a different vegetable and a couple extra ingredients. I just made this earlier this week to go with a pre-seasoned honey sriracha pork loin, and it was perfect together. Both Aly and I loved the pairing.
2 lbs. (3 large) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
Place the potato cubes in a bowl and toss in olive oil, season with the remaining ingredients. Obviously the cayenne is optional and kicks some heat into the dish if you choose to include it.
Throw the potatoes into a large fry pan on medium-high heat and follow the directions in the last recipe for frying.
Fry in the pan for 14-17 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Their consistency will be very similar to butternut squash, soft on the inside but crisp and firm on the outside.
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This recipe does dabble back in the sweetness, but it still makes a great side with a sweetly marinated pork side or a chicken/turkey that was stuffed with some acidic fruits like lemon or lime.
MAPLE ROASTED ACORN SQUASH
2 small acorn squash cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tsbp. maple syrup
1 tsbp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut center pulpy portion of acorn squash from each slice, removing pulp and seeds. Set aside for another use or discard. Arrange acorn squash slices on rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil and maple syrup over acorn squash slices. Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and pepper.
Roast until fork-tender and fragrant, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm.
TFD: Autumn leaves don't fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar - Delia Owens