Side dishes: be inspired

By
Editor
Added
13 June, 2017

Food writer Ed Smith, of RocketandSquash food blog, amongst other things, is a huge fan of the often-overlooked side dish. We’ve all read recipes that finish with ‘eat with potatoes and greens’ or ‘goes well with rice’ but Ed thinks it’s time for a change…

Have you noticed that what we call side dishes actually make up the bulk of a meal? In fact, they’re often the best bit, whether it’s roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding alongside a rib of beef, or crunchy salads and pickles to go with a Japanese or Korean dinner. Good sides lift a meal from being just fine to being truly delicious or memorable. And, here, I’ll show you how easy it is to do.

 

Match your sides to the centrepiece


Vermouth-braised red onions


This means match your sides to the meat. Or fish. Or vegetables. Or cheese. Or tofu, Or egg. Or, indeed, a gaggle of sides. Sounds obvious, but easy to overlook. Think leeks and pumpkin with lamb and onions and cauliflower cheese with beef, all classic pairings that work well so use as your starting point and work other accompaniments around it.

 

How many sides to prepare?


Spring greens in shiitake dashi broth


I think ‘meat and two veg’ is a pretty strong rule of thumb to go by. Often, it’s best to keep things simple, that way you can concentrate on making sure that everything you’re cooking is perfect. Alternatively, every recipe in my book has suggestions of what it goes with, so why not try ditching the meat part completely and make a well-balanced feast from three, four or five of the recipes in the book instead?

 

Feature a mixture of complementary textures


Sweet potato and rosemary hash-rosti


Fried and roasted things are awesome aren’t they? Anything with a crisp and caramelised edge. But, you need variety – you can have too much of a good thing. When making a meal, think, does your centrepiece have a natural sauce, or is it quite lean and dry? If it’s the former, limit your heavily dressed, wet or creamed side dish. If it’s the latter, then definitely make sure you include a liquid, purée or dressing to punctuate the savoury flavours and to lift your meal.

 

Ensure your plate is a pretty one


Sherry cherry tomatoes


By this I mean, we really do eat with our eyes, so think about the colour. If you take away the odd sprinkle of fresh herbs or pomegranate seeds, you’ll see that the vast majority of meat, fish and vegetables are brown. It’s up to the side dishes to bring a flash of colour.

 

Balance the flavour


Mum's bulgar wheat salad


If your centrepiece is sweet through sauces and spices, roasted root vegetables or sides like sweetcorn or peas, you’ll need something plain and earthy alongside. Or even sour, bitter or peppery flavours to add contrast. On the other hand, if your centrepiece or sides are plain, earthy, sour, bitter or peppery, then seek out something sweet!

 

Anything else?


Have a think about where you’re going to cook things, how long that will take and whether anything could or should be done in advance. Be realistic! There’s no point trying to do something interesting with everything on the plate. Select, one, maybe two things to make an effort with, and if more sides need to be added, just cook them plainly (but perfectly) and allow the ingredients to speak for themselves. Finally, remember the seasons. If you start with one seasonal item the other parts of your meal tend to fall into place around it.

 


SIDE DISHES

{1}
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again