Dinner is my favorite meal of the day. I love to create a plate of love for the evening meal. As you know, Mama D is a big fan of the one dish meal, be it soup, skillet, or casserole. Sometimes, well actually, quite often she enjoys a plate of food divided; that is a protein, a starch and a vegetable each standing on their own.
I thought it was time to share some thoughts on and recipes for side dishes. At times side dishes take a back (or is it side?) seat to the main event. A succulent steak, beautifully sauced chicken, or a juicy piece of pork bask in the spotlight, but those dishes that sit off to the side of the plate are the compliment to the protein and very often make that protein even better.
From a health standpoint, our plate should be half filled with vegetables, the other half shared by protein and starch, particularly whole grains. While I’m still an unapologetic carnivore, I have been trying to adjust the balance of the plates I create. I’ve been working towards putting as much creativity into the sides as I do the main.
When it comes to side dishes, I can’t help myself, sometimes I just have to put the starch and veggies together. There are plenty of one pan sides coming out of Mama D’s Kitchen.
One of my current favorites unites Brussels Spouts and Yukon Gold Potatoes. Bacon and onion hold it all together and a generous dusting of freshly cracked pepper seals the deal.Thick sliced bacon browns up nicely in a pan. Once the bacon and most of the drippings are removed, the onions, potatoes and Brussels sprouts jump in together until everything is tender, brown, and delicious.This side goes well with anything and is super easy to prepare. A recipe is hardly needed, but here you go.
The casserole side dish is always a welcome addition to any meal. This particular one combines broccoli and cauliflower in a decadent cheese sauce. How does this fit into Mama D’s healthier lifestyle? Well, as Oscar Wilde said everything in moderation including moderation. While not the lightest of dishes, I have trimmed a little fat here and there. I used an extra sharp cheddar cheese that allowed me to use only 3 ounces. A touch of blue cheese added some extra zing. I did splurge on real butter, but it was only two tablespoons. A good amount of onions caramelized in the butter before the flour was added to create a roux. I used low-fat milk in the sauce to trim a little more fat as well.I blanched the cauliflower and broccoli to shorten the cooking time.
I used whole wheat Panko crumbs, a small nod to health, but throw me a bone here.
Panko is very crisp already so I only added a bit of butter along with some smoked paprika. Before it went into the oven I gave it a good dose of olive oil cooking spray. The crust had the crunch of something made with a lot more fat.
This casserole will easily serve six people as a small serving is almost as satisfying as a large one especially when it is paired with wonderful roast meat or poultry of your choice.
I believe that sides make the meal. It’s that little extra dose of love that elevates the meal to something special.