Our favorite side dishes, from roasted broccoli with lemon and pine nuts to bok choy with garlic.
Food & Wine
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Sugar Snap Peas with Soffrito, Hot Pepper and Mint
"It's hard to improve upon a perfect sugar snap pea," says Gjelina chef Travis Lett. "The question for the chef is, how do you not screw it up?" Lett's answer is to keep things simple, by cooking the sweet peas with fresh mint, crushed red pepper and soffrito (an aromatic Italian mix of sautéed minced vegetables, usually used to flavor soups and sauces).
Chris Cosentino remembers charring tomatoes when he was a line cook under chef Mark Miller at Red Sage in Washington, DC. "Mark always said, 'It needs fleck,'" Cosentino says, referring to the blackened bits on the skins. "The fire brings out the sweetness in the tomatoes."
Most restaurants make pork fried rice with generic pieces of barbecued meat; Andrew Carmellini uses both seared ground pork and sweet, aromatic Chinese sausage in his playful version. As an alternative to Chinese sausage—which is now available at many Costco stores—substitute thick matchsticks of lean maple-cured bacon.
What Top Chef fan could forget CJ Jacobson's soggy, brown Broccolini from Season 3? When challenged to prepare the dish for an airplane meal, CJ overcooked his vegetables so badly that they were unrecognizable—and he got kicked off the show for it. Gail Simmons reinvents the recipe by blanching Broccolini quickly, then sautéing it on the stove with a shallot and adding spicy, lemony, homemade bread crumbs at the very end.
People tend to cook barley more in the winter than in the summer. But once it's been toasted in a saucepan with some butter and boiled (only 20 minutes), barley is a terrific showcase for superfresh vegetables, like the broccoli Grace Parisi uses here.
Gerard Craft came up with this clever recipe one year when his local farmer had an abundance of radishes. Craft tried roasting them. The result: warm, crisp-tender radishes with delightfully bitter greens, which he finishes with butter and lemon.
"Walk to pick it, run to cook it," was the mantra back in the days when corn turned starchy within hours of harvesting. New varieties stay sweet and tender longer. Flavoring the ears here is a trio of seasoned salts.
Parsley Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Tahini, the creamy Middle Eastern sesame-seed paste, is the ingenious base for the dressing on this bold-flavored salad. The dressing would be terrific with any number of peppery greens, like escarole, watercress or celery leaves.
When roasting winter vegetables, Melissa Rubel Jacobson says be sure to chop them about the same size, so they cook at the same rate. And toss them at least once while they're in the oven, so they brown evenly.