Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Festive Vegetable Side Dishes

Cheryl Tallman

Side dishes made with lightly cooked fresh vegetables can add rich flavor, festive color and a dose of delicious nutrition to your holiday dinner table.  Try a few of these side dish recipes:

Mashed Potatoes & Parsnips
4 medium/large baking potatoes 
3 medium parsnips 
5-7 garlic cloves, peeled 
4 cups (32 oz) Chicken broth 
4 Tbsp butter or margarine 
Salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: Wash and peel the potatoes and parsnips. Cut them into 2-inch chunks and place them and the garlic cloves in a 5 qt. stockpot; add chicken broth until it covers the potatoes. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until a fork slides easily through the potatoes. Drain potatoes, reserving ¾ cup of the cooking liquid. Mash the potato-parsnip mixture with a potato masher until smooth and lump-free. Stir in butter or margarine. Add the reserved liquid ¼ cup at a time, until potatoes have a creamy, whipped texture. Serves 4-6.

Green Beans with Corn & Bacon
2 lbs green beans 
1 ear sweet corn, kernels cut off cob 
1 clove garlic, minced 
¼ cup onion, diced 
3 strips bacon 
2 Tbsp butter 
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Slice bacon into small (1/2 inch) pieces and fry in saucepan until crispy.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Set aside.

Leave 1-2 Tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan, add garlic, onion and corn kernels. Saute about 5 minutes over medium high heat.  

Wash green beans and remove ends.  Place beans in microwave-safe dish, cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 minutes (until bright green and crisp tender). Toss with butter and place in serving dish. Spoon the corn mixture over the green beans and sprinkle with bacon bits. Serve. 

Mixed Mushroom Casserole 
2 Tbsp of olive oil 
1 pound mushrooms (different varieties) 
1 small onion, chopped 
1 cup chicken broth 
1 tsp Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence 
Juice of ½ lemon 
Salt & pepper, to taste 
½ cup breadcrumbs (panko crumbs preferred) 
1 Tbsp butter
Directions: Clean and slice mushrooms.  In large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat, add mushrooms, onion, chicken broth, seasoning and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and reduce liquid by about half. Season with salt and pepper.  Turn mixture into an oven-proof casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs and dot with butter. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. If needed, broil for 1-2 minutes to brown bread crumbs.  Serve.

Spinach and Sweet Potato Risotto
Risotto (see recipe below) 
1 medium sweet potato, diced 
2 cups of fresh spinach, washed and chopped 
3 Tbsp. olive oil 
Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Prepare risotto using recipe below. In a separate pan, sauté the diced sweet potato in the olive oil until soft and nicely browned (about 10 minutes over medium-high heat), add the chopped spinach. Toss gently and let the spinach wilt in the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix sweet potato-spinach mixture with risotto. Serve.

1 ½ cups white arborio rice 
1 Tbsp. olive oil 
1 large onion, chopped 
1/2 cup white wine 
5 cups hot chicken broth 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions: Heat olive oil in a heavy non-stick 2-quart pot at medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Add rice and stir until grains are coated with oil.  Add wine and stir constantly on medium heat until wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup hot stock or water, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes and adding the remaining liquid 1 cup at a time. This rice will create its own creamy sauce. Remove from heat, stir in cheese. 

About the Author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at for more delicious tips.

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