Two New Recipes for Sides

Ever get trapped in a rut with your usual vegetables and starches? Here are two new recipes we tried this week and really enjoyed – one for broccoli, and one for potatoes.

Broccoli and Avocado Salad

(Adapted from “The 60 Minute Gourmet”)

Broccoli and Avocado looked like an odd combination at first glance. However, it’s from a French cookbook I like, respect, and use frequently called The 60 Minute Gourmet. The book has never failed me yet so I gave it a try. Good thing – this dish is a winner! The dressing tastes fresh and light, the salad whips together in minutes, and the crisp broccoli contrasts nicely with the smooth rich avocado.  This is my own take on the recipe. You can adjust proportions up and down to taste and for the size of your household.

  • 1 Small Head Broccoli
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 – 2 tsp. Lemon Juice

1)     Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Wash the broccoli, slice off the florets, and split into bite-sized pieces. Boil just a couple of minutes – you want crisp but chewable pieces. Drain immediately. Rinse in cold water until cool. Drain again.

2)     Pit and peel an avocado, and chop into ½ inch chunks. Toss with the drained broccoli.

3)     In a separate container, whisk the mustard, oil, and lemon together, adjusting the amount of lemon juice to taste. Drizzle over the broccoli and avocado and serve.


Crisp-Baked Smashed Potatoes with Basil Sauce

(Adapted from “Rachel Ray’s Everday” magazine)

I borrowed a copy of Rachel Ray’s cooking magazine at the library recently. It had a new (to me) way to prepare potatoes. The boiled-then-baked-flat technique gives a nice texture to a familiar food, and the fresh herby sauce contrasts well with potatoes’ meatier flavor. These could be served as a side or as a main dish.

  • Small Red Potatoes (She says 2 Lbs, I say however many your household will eat in a night since these probably aren’t the best for reheating)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup fresh basil, rinsed and dried
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled (the recipe said 1, but we like garlic)
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • Parmesan (optional – the recipe didn’t mention it, but I found their base sauce a little bland)

1)     Scrub (but don’t peel) the potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender but not mushy – about 15 – 20 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. While the potatoes boil, preheat your oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

2)     Drain the potatoes. Generously sprinkle them with salt and pepper, then toss with olive oil until well-coated (roughly a quarter cup – I didn’t measure). I tossed the potatoes in the same pot I boiled them in for easy cleanup. Don’t discard any run-off oil from the pot – you can use it for the basil sauce.

3)     Set the potatoes on the baking sheet. With the flat bottom of a glass, squash each potato flat into a cake about a quarter-inch thick. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake the potatoes about 25 minutes until crispy.

4)     While the potatoes bake, blend the basil and garlic in a food processor. With the blender running, pour in about ½ cup olive oil (or whatever amount brings your desired texture) in a slow, steady stream. You want more of a liquid sauce than a typical pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this point I tasted it and decided I’d like it a bit more like a traditional pesto, so I added about an eighth cup of shredded parmesan and blended it in as well. Pesto is always a matter of personal taste – more garlic? Less? Texture? Pine nuts? Walnuts? Adjust to whatever you like.

5)     When the potatoes finish baking, serve up a cake or two onto each person’s plate and top with a drizzle of basil sauce. Save leftover sauce for potatoes another day or for a pasta or meat dish as you would pesto.


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