On the side - Cookbook Review

Welcome to the month of June, which means another new cookbook has just been released. 

On the side - A sourcebook of inspiring side dishes by Ed Smith and the team at Bloomsbury Publishing is available now. 

Author Ed Smith is the author of popular website and food journal Rocket & Squash, which features recipes, restaurant reviews and all things cookery. Ed also won the award for Best Online Restaurant Writer in 2015 and has been shortlisted for many others.

There are so many amazing and delicious recipes in this book I literally cant list them all but my favourites include:

  • Cavolo nero with garlic, chilli and orange;
  • Purple sprouting broccoli with ricotta and orzo;
  • Radicchio with a smoky blood orange and maple dressing;
  • Blue cheese leeks;
  • Boulangère potatoes;
  • Chorizo roast potatoes;
  • Maple and pecan roast squash;
  • Carrots with brown butter and hazelnuts ( see below);
  • Mac 'n' cheese; and
  • Red rice with beetroot, feta and wild oregano ( see below);

What I really love about this cookbook is that you can flick to the back and search for recipes based on your main dish, where the side dish needs to be prepared (so you can avoid having to use the oven for 4 different dishes), and how long they will take. 

An index at the back of the book cleverly divides recipes into less than 15 minutes, 15-30 minutes, 30-60 minutes, and more than an hour. Perfect for the busy family or when you are planning a dinner party and need to organise your timings.

To pick up your own copy click here

In the meantime, try these delicious recipes with your next main.

Red rice with beetroot, feta and wild oregano

Preparation: on a hob
Time needed: 30 minutes to an hour

I remember red rice being a thing in the 1990s: the colour intrigued and promised a great deal. But I also remember that, once cooked, red rice was dull in both colour and taste, perhaps a little too wholesome for its own good. This version is different, largely on account of the beetroot, which adds its extraordinary colour and that earthy-yet-sweet quality. The rice absorbs all the liquid it is cooked in, so you dont lose any flavour down the sink, then it is seasoned with salty, sharp feta, and fresh Greek oregano in oil, sometimes called zahtar. If thats not available, sprinkle the finished dish with lemon thyme or a generous pinch of the spice blend zaatar instead.

Grilled mackerel, lamb chops, rib-eye steaks and baked mushrooms are ideal partners to this side; basically, things with big personalities to match the bold colours and flavours in the pot. Youll only need one other thing alongside; I suggest something crisp and fresh.

Serves 4–6

250g Camargue red rice or a mixture of red and wild rice
2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
1 red onion, finely diced
300g raw beetroot, peeled and diced
100g feta
Juice of ½ lemon
15g fresh oregano in oil, 1 teaspoon za’atar or the leaves from 4–5 sprigs lemon thyme
Sea salt

Put the rice in a sieve and rinse it until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 45 minutes, or until softened. Add the beetroot and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally before adding the rice, coating it in the oil and beetroot juices.

Pour 500ml boiling water over the rice and beetroot, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook with a lid on, slightly ajar, for 40 minutes. Stir once or twice to check the rice isnt catching on the base of the pan. Remove the lid when there are 510 minutes to go. The rice is ready when fully tender with just a little nutty (but not chalky) bite. It should still be fairly loose-grained; if you pushed some to one side in the pan, it would fall back rather than sit prudishly. Turn the heat off.

Crumble half the feta into the rice and stir through until it melts. Taste to check the seasoning, adding the lemon juice and salt if necessary. Transfer to a platter or wide serving bowl. Sprinkle the remaining feta over the top, then the oregano (or lemon thyme or zaatar, plus a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil). Itll stay warm for at least 510 minutes, but is best made just before you eat rather than a long time in advance. Its good cold, mind.

Alongside: French-ish peas (page 58); Dijon-dressed green beans (page 64); Pink radicchio with pear and almonds (page 82); Gem lettuce, mint and spring onion (page 86); Shaved fennel with tarragon (page 118)

Carrots with brown butter and hazelnuts

Preparation: on a hob
Time needed: 15 to 30 minutes

Theres absolutely nothing wrong with serving simply boiled or steamed carrots. If you ever fancy taking that staple up a notch or two, though, try this browned butter and hazelnut trick; the nutty aromas of the garnish add so much flavour to a meal.

As with carrots generally, this side is amenable to many foods, though I especially like it with pork loin or chops, poached chicken, bavette steaks, pan-fried hake, cod or other white fish.

Serves 4–6

600g carrots (baby carrots are particularly good)
30g hazelnuts, toasted
Leaves from 15 stems flat-leaf parsley
50g butter
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the carrots lengthways (or leave them whole if theyre small enough). Put them in a saucepan and add cold water to cover by 34 cm. Add a couple of pinches of salt, bring to the boil and simmer for 1015 minutes, or until tender.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts and chop the parsley as finely as you can.

Drain the carrots and return them to the pan or transfer to a serving dish. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium-high heat until it starts to froth. After a minute or so the butter will be golden and will smell nutty, and a patch in the middle will become calm. When that happens, throw in the crushed hazelnuts, stir them for 10 seconds, then turn off the heat, squeeze in the lemon juice and add the parsley.

Quickly pour the contents of the pan over the carrots. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, toss well so that all the carrots are glossy and the parsley and hazelnuts are evenly distributed. Serve immediately.

Alongside: Sweet cauliflower greens (page 38); New potatoes with pickled samphire and sorrel
(page 174); Celeriac baked in a salt and thyme crust (page 198); Bread sauce and parsnip crisps (page 236); Spelt grains with wild mushrooms (page 256).



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