Quick Side Dishes
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).
Skillet-Charred Cherry Tomatoes with Basil
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."
Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Pine Nuts
This delicious side dish can be made in about 15 minutes.
Winter Squash and Carrot Puree
Serve with golden roast turkey, goose or chicken, roast pork loin or baked ham for a classic pairing.
Pork-and-Pineapple Fried Rice
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.
To make this super-simple side dish, Mehmet Gürs roasts new potatoes until they're tender then tosses them with a black-olive puree that coats them nicely—and looks a lot like dirt.
Broccolini with Crispy Lemon Crumbs
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.
Creamy Cheese Grits
These luscious cheese grits replace standard mashed potatoes as an alluring side dish for Marcia Kiesel's roasted whole chicken with tomatoes.
Warm Broccoli and Barley Pilaf
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.
Braised Cucumbers with Dill
Fresh cucumbers are excellent when gently braised in butter and served warm. This dish is best with thin-skinned cucumbers, like English, Japanese and Persian varieties.
Roasted Radishes with Radish Greens
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.
Bok Choy with Garlic
This healthy and delicious addition to any main course takes only 15 minutes to whip up. Garnish with salt and ground pepper.
Corn on the Cob with Seasoned Salts
"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.
Green Bean-and-Tomato Salad with Tarragon Dressing
This supersimple bean-and-tomato salad, tossed with a tarragon-flavored dressing, is perfect for summertime picnics.
Indian-Spiced Chickpea Salad with Yogurt and Herbs
Chef Jerry Traunfeld, who traveled through India last year, flavors this creamy chickpea salad with aromatic herbs and Indian spices, among them mustard, cumin and fennel seeds.
Roasted King Oyster Mushrooms
Thick, meaty slices of king oyster mushrooms are roasted in the oven for a rich, concentrated flavor.
Maple-Ginger-Roasted Vegetables with Pecans
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.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
This spicy side dish, made with ginger, chiles and coconut milk, is great alongside jerk or curry dishes. Peas in Jamaica means beans—in this case, kidney beans.
Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic
Irresistible is the best word to describe chef David Gingrass's richly browned broccoli that is seasoned with garlic, lemon juice and red pepper.
Warm Potato Salad with Arugula
Paul Virant puts a spin on the classic summer side dish by tossing warm potatoes with a mustardy vinaigrette and handfuls of arugula.
Green Mango Salad
The mangoes in this jalapeño-spiced salad are full of vitamin C. Be sure to use firm, underripe fruit: They add an essential tang to the recipe.
Jasmine Rice with Tomatoes and Cornichons
The jasmine rice and sugar snap peas add a more exotic flavor to this quick dish.
Asian-Style Spicy Coleslaw
Any green cabbage can substitute for the napa cabbage; just be sure to serve the slaw immediately after dressing it so that it retains maximum crunch.