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Seven Favorite Holiday Side Dishes

Delicious Elegance

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Whether you're having the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving (see Turkey for Two) and Roast Beef for Christmas, or having Pan-Roasted Duck on T'day and Rack of Lamb for Xmas, coming up with the main dish is a breeze. The hard part is deciding on the side dishes. Here are seven of my favorites that will go well with almost any main dish.

Share your favorite side dishes with us!

Mushroom Soup: Mycophilia

Mushroom Soup
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
I suppose you could call this Cream of Mushroom Soup, after all it includes both cream and mushrooms. But the order is wrong it is more a Mushroom Soup with cream. And unlike the canned stuff, this soup is thickened not with starch and condensed milk but with pureed mushrooms. This Mushroom Soup is thick, rich, and deeply savory, perfect as the first course for almost any elegant meal.

Carrot-Potato Casserole: Orange and White

Carrot & Potato Casserole
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
I first ran across this recipe for a carrot and potato casserole or gratin about 20 years ago in an issue of either Gourmet or Bon Appetit. The combination of sweet carrots, starchy potatoes, fresh herbs, and pungent cheese is a real winner. I've long since lost the original recipe but this version is a great addition to a fall or winter meal. As an added bonus, it's gorgeous on a holiday plate.

Couscous and Dried Fruit: Perfect with Roast Poultry

Couscous with Dried Fruit
Kevin D Weeks
Couscous and dried fruit? I've had more than one eater draw back from the idea of pasta (and couscous is a form of pasta) and something as sweet as fruit. Nevertheless, over the years I've been making and serving it I've only had one or two people not like it and, in fact, this is a very Arabic recipe in character even though I made it up. It is particularly good with poultry hens.

Italian Green Beans: Tasting the Med

Italian Green Beans
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
One of the vendors at my farmers' market decided to grow some Italian broad beans this year and when I spotted them I stufffed a bag full. Boy were they good, so the following week I bought some more. The first batch I simply boiled with some country ham, but I took an Italian approach with the second batch and after par-boiling them I sautéed them with garlic, pancetta and anchovies. Don't let the anchovies scare you, they melt in the skillet and you only get a hint of fishiness - but a much richer flavor because they're there.

Baked Leeks with Lemon and Garlic

Baked Leeks with Lemon and Garlic
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
Leeks are a wonderfully mild member of the onion family frequently served with potatoes in soups and gratins. They also happen to be a cold weather vegetable making them another great vegetable choice during the winter months. In this recipe the leeks are blanched, then topped with garlic flavored butter, lemon zest, and buttered bread crumbs. This is a great side dish for almost any meal, whether beef, fish, poultry, or pork.

Pureed Cauliflower: Smooth, Rich, Tangy

Pureed Cauliflower
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
Cauliflower Puree sounds a bit like a Gerber food product for toothless infants - it's not, by any stretch. Cauliflower is one of the world's most misunderstood vegetables. An afterthought in raw vegetable platters or steamed and drenched in butter, too often the vegetable's essential flavor is ignored. This recipe begins by steaming the cauliflower, but then reduces it to a thick pudding and adds cream and butter, but the tangy goat cheese really kicks it over the top.

Honey-mustard Roasted Beets: Sweet, Earthy and Bright

Honey-mustard Beets
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
These Honey-mustard Roasted Beets are one of my favorite beet recipes - simultaneously bright, sweet, and earthy. The beets provide sweetness and that deep earthy flavor. The honey points up their sweetness while the mustard adds a luscious, pungent edge. The lemon and mint round out the dish by bringing out and highlighting the beets' fresh flavor.
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