"When people are intimidated by cooking, they overthink it," Stowell says. "But you hear all the time from cooks that the more they cook, the more comfortable they are with serving a really simple side dish." Here, Stowell shares five ideas:
1. Rapini with garlic and chiles
"Rapini, or broccoli rabe, is a leafy, bitter Italian green that holds up well to strong flavors like garlic and anchovies. Plus, it has a great texture. Just sauté it in a little olive oil with garlic, anchovies and chiles, then add chicken stock and cook it down until it's tender. This dish goes well with roasted chicken or a grilled steak. You can certainly substitute spinach in place of the rapini."
2. Shaved fennel-andMeyer lemon salad
"A simple side dish for fish: Trim fennel bulbs and shave them paper-thin on a mandoline. Then toss with good olives and chopped sections of Meyer lemon. (You can also use navel oranges.) The citrus juices act as the acidic part of the dressing, and then you can just drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil to finish. Use the best olive oil you can find; oils from Castelvetrano in Sicily are my favorite."