simple side dishes

Antipasto
We had people over for dinner on Saturday night to break in the new place.  I went with the casual buffet style option with all the vegetable side dishes served room temperature.  Each dish was actually a bit better when the dishes were warm ( since I tasted them in the afternoon ) but being able to hang with everyone and not worry about cooking makes for a much better evening…particularly for the host.

There were four sides.  Beet orange mint salad, potatoes and cauliflower, grilled asparagus and roasted fennel.

Beet Salad:

6 beets

3 naval oranges cut into 1/4" pieces

lots of chopped mint

3 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

6 Tbsp. fresh orange juice 

6 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher Salt

The ingredients says it all.  After roasting the beets, slice them into wedges and mix with the orange pieces.  Toss in the chopped mint.  Mix together the vinegar, orange juice and oil and pour over the salad.  Mix.  Lots of salt for taste.  I also thought my salad needed a little bit more orange flavoring so I just took another orange ( one that you would use for juicing ) and squeezed it over the salad.  Simple and really tasty.

Cauliflower/Potato salad:

1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes sliced in half

1 cauliflower head cut into small florets

1 red onion – thinly sliced

1/3 cup capers

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

olive oil and kosher salt

Preheat an oven to 400.  Take a deep cookie sheet and line with parchment paper.  In a bowl, toss the potatoes with olive oil and salt.  Spread them on the cookie sheet and bake until the potatoes get crispy brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

In a large deep frying pan cover the bottom with oil.  Take the cauliflower florets and toss them in the same bowl you used to season the potatoes and season the cauliflower.  Put them in the hot frying pan and saute until browned.  Once the florets are browned, turn the heat down to medium low and cover with a lid.  That will allow the cauliflower to roast.  When ready ( 6 minutes or so ), remove from the heat.

In a separate saucepan, cover the bottom with olive oil and turn the heat to high.  Drain the capers so that they are quite dry.  Add the capers to the saucepan and stir for a few minutes until they get crispy and really open up.  Add in the sliced red onion and mix for a few minutes or until the onion gets soft.  Remove from the heat, add in the red wine vinegar.

Now take all three parts and mix into a bowl.  Add salt for taste and a little extra vinegar if you need it.

Roasted Fennel:

I cut off both ends of the fennel and took off the outside layer.  Rubbed each bulb down with olive oil and kosher salt.  Set them in a roasting pan and put them in a oven at 400.  I covered the pan with tin foil before putting it in the oven.  I literally left the fennel in the oven for easily 3 hours if not more.  Once I could slide a knife through like butter, I took off the tin foil.  Then I took shaved Parmesan and put it over the top.  Once the cheese melted and started to brown, I took the fennel out.  This was really delicious and just needs a long time in the oven.

Grilled Asparagus is just what it is.  Grilled on the grill with a little olive oil and salt. 

That was it.  Served with some steak on the side and everybody seemed quite happy.