Side dishes can make or break a meal. Personally, I'm more inclined to pick a meal when I'm out to eat based on the sides, and then the main protein.... of course, this is when I'm not eating NBB. At home we have a revolving crisper drawer of delicious, fresh vegetables. But it can be easy to get stuck in tractor wheel size ruts of nuking frozen peas, or boxed rice- and trust me, we do that, no judging, but in the same amount of time it takes for that rice you can switch it up a bit! This post is all about our favorite sizes, that still let the beauty of your steak shine through!
Carrots are probably our favorite vegetable. They are so versatile on top of having great health benefits! They lend well to spicy flavor additions because of their naturally sweet taste. They are great simply sliced and sautéed too- which is pictured here.
Allow for 2 carrots per person- they reheat wonderfully too! Don't even bother to peel them, there's even more nutrients in the peels, just give 'em a good scrub in the sink. Trim both ends, and slice about 1/4 in thick. In a large sauté pan, heat some butter of medium high heat. Add carrots, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1/4 cup of water. Throw the lid on and let the carrots steam for about 4-5 minutes, until just barely fork tender. Here is where you can pick many different variations.
1. Swirl about 2 tablespoons of really good maple syrup- Grade B, nice and dark. Let the syrup reduce for a minute, add another pad of butter, and serve as is.
2. Splash about 3 tablespoons of orange juice, a few dashes of soy, and a sprinkle of brown sugar for a nice citrus glaze.
3. Splash some soy sauce, add a teaspoon of minced garlic, a teaspoon of grated ginger, and some squirts of sriracha, or better yet, garlic chili sauce if you've got it! This is a nice asian flavored glaze that still allows the sweet carrots to shine through.
4. A healthy play on creamed carrots, uses coconut milk. Add just enough coconut milk to almost have the carrots "swim" and sprinkle with curry. Curry is such a delicious blend of spices that has such depth of flavor and many different layers. It's got cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, a little cayenne, and up to sometimes 6 other ingredients! It's warm, a tad spicy, and just delicious with carrots.
Potatoes. Really- meat and potatoes are siblings from before potatoes and beef where a thing. Like caveman ages. Dinosaurs even appreciated a nice potato with their meal.
We call mashed "sinfuls" in our house. Why you ask? because for every ounce of potato, there's an ounce of butter, another of sour cream, some milk, some garlic, salt, pepper, oh, yeh. and some parmesan cheese. I never claimed they were healthy. I love using red potatoes, or any potato with a nice tender skin that I don't have to peel.
I also love pee-wee potatoes, they are the tiny little guys that are like the size of a marshmallow. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grab a cookie sheet, and line it with foil. Toss potatoes in olive oil, a really healthy amount of salt, pepper, and 2-3 fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Throw some whole cloves of garlic in there too if you'd like! Put them in a single layer on the tray, and roast for about 20 minutes until fork tender. The skins will just barely crisp, and the insides will be so fluffy and soft, and just delicious.
We also are big fans of sweet potatoes. They are a healthier option of their white potato cousin, and have such a delicious sweet, orange interior. Of course you don't HAVE to keep it healthy, but these tips are naturally healthier options anyway! Try to find potatoes that are relatively even in shape, meaning there isn't a drastically skinnier end. Cut potatoes into nice fat wedges, about 6-8 wedges per potato depending on the size. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with foil. Drizzle some veggie or olive oil over the wedges, season liberally with salt and pepper. Arrange fresh rosemary sprigs around the wedges, and some whole garlic cloves. The rosemary will burn, but it will leave delicious, savory flavor in its wake. Cook wedges for about 15-20 minutes, until the edges are just barely browned, but the centers are soft and tender. Using a spatula, serve immediately with your beef!
Cauliflower has a pretty bad reputation. Sure, you can steam it, and serve it like you would broccoli, but it can be pretty bland that way. Roasting cauliflower takes it to a whole new level, and really adds great texture to your plate. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with foil. Take a whole head of cauliflower, and flip it on its floret side, green leaves facing up. Using a paring knife, work around the stem to remove the leaves, and cut into same-size florets. Making sure the florets are similarly sized ensures they will cook evenly, and at the same time. If you prefer your veggies a little on the softer side, you can lower the temperature to 350, and roast for a longer period of time, around 25 minutes. To get your cauliflower like its pictured here, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread in an even layer on your cookie sheet. Make sure the florets have enough room around them, and aren't stacked, otherwise, they'll steam. Set your timer for 15 minutes. While cooking, chop some fresh parsley, and grate some fresh parmesan cheese. When the timer goes off, toss the parsley and cheese on top, and reset the timer for another 5 minutes, just until the cheese melts and barely starts to crisp. The florets should be just brown on the edges, and fork tender. They will have a nutty flavor to them, and have a nice bite, but delicious with crusty cheese on top!
Green beans are a great and healthy last minute veggie side- start to finish in less than 10 minutes! Trim the stem end off the bean, and you're ready to go! In a large saute pan that has a lid, melt a pad of butter, and just a swirl of oil (so the butter doesn't burn) over medium-high heat. Toss in the beans, with some salt, pepper, and just a teaspoon or so of minced garlic. Coat all the beans in the butter, and add about 1/4 cup of water, white wine, or stock to the pan, and put the lid on. Turn the heat to high, and let them steam for about 4-5 minutes. We like our beans with a little bite still, but tender. The liquid will reduce, and make a light sauce with the butter and garlic adding just a little something extra to your steamed green beans! To finish, zest some lemon over the top, and squeeze some fresh juice just before serving.