I sometimes get so caught up in planning the protein for a meal that the side dishes become an afterthought. That doesn’t mean I skip the veggies and the starch, but I find myself falling back on the same easy ideas — sauteed spinach, roasted broccoli, rice, baked potatoes and other basics.
Sometimes it’s nice to plan an entire meal around the side dishes, which is why I love an old cookbook I’ve had for years called “Vegetables on the Side” by Sallie Y. Williams. I don’t even remember where I got this cookbook, but I love it because it is completely dedicated to vegetables from A to Z and the many ways they can be prepared. The recipes range from a vinegared cucumber salad to a pearl onion and raisin ragout.
Because the weather was so nice on Saturday, we decided to grill a steak. Hubby was in charge of that task, so I was able to devote my time to something fancier to go along with the steak. The result was a spinach and artichoke gratin adapted from Williams’ cookbook. I loved this dish so much that we ate it three nights in a row, and my husband will tell you that’s unusual for me.
This can be made with frozen spinach and canned mushrooms and artichokes or you can go fresh all the way with all of the ingredients. Also, instead of cream cheese I used some of the yogurt cheese I made recently, and it was delicious. On a slightly related note, we also had sweet potatoes cooked in a different but easy way. Instead of baking them whole, which I had run out of time to do, I sliced them in 1/2-inch circles, placed in a single layer on a cookie sheet, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Baked at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Then, I flipped them, lightly brushed them with maple syrup and baked another 5 minutes, or until tender. So delicious and a snap to make.
What are some of your family’s favorite vegetable side dishes?
Spinach and Artichoke Gratin
Adapted from “Vegetables on the Side” by Sallie Y. Williams.
2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1/2 large onion, sliced very thinly
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced thinly OR 1 small can of mushrooms, drained and chopped
1 bag frozen spinach, thawed (or equivalent weight fresh)
4 large fresh artichoke hearts or 8 jarred, marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (seasoned salt)
3 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream or fat-free cream
1-2 cups grated cheese of your choice (cheddar, Swiss, colby, Parmesan)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and saute, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and beginning to brown.
3. Add spinach and salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until thoroughly mixed (and wilted, if using fresh spinach).
4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine cream cheese and heavy cream until smooth.
5. In an 8-inch greased baking dish, layer spinach mixture, artichokes, cream cheese mixture (dot and smear), and repeat one more time. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for 20 minutes.
6. Remove foil, sprinkle cheese evenly over the top of the dish, and bake another 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and dish is bubbling hot.