Spectacular Sides!

Are you in the merry midst of planning a festive holiday meal? Did you pre-order your Christmas Goose or Holiday Ham from your butcher? Are you stumped on what to serve with the main event?

Here are a few of my favorite winter side suggestions that don't take much time or effort, but will still earn plenty of oohs and ahhs and yums at the table. Note: Each recipe serves about four people, but they are easy to double and triple.

Garlicky Roasted Broccoli and Romanesco
1 large head broccoli (about 2 cups)
1 large head romanesco
Olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves (smash with the back of a knife and peel)
Kosher Salt
1 tsp garlic powder
Red pepper flakes (optional)

To Do:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Wash, drain, and separate the broccoli and romanesco into florets (keep your stems for future soups or quiches).
  • Toss in a large bowl with the garlic cloves, enough olive oil to coat and a few pinches of salt
  • Place on a cookie sheet or oven-safe dish and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the florets are browned.
  • Transfer to your serving bowl and toss with a bit more olive oil, salt to taste, the garlic powder and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you're using them.

Creamy Cauliflower Gratin
1 very large head cauliflower or 2 smaller bunches
2 TBS unsalted butter
3 TBS all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups light cream, plus 2-3 TBS
1/2 tsp nutmeg, plus a pinch
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar or Gruyere, shredded
1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded
Kosher salt
1-2 TBS Walnut oil
1/4 cup bread crumbs

To Do:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Wash, drain and separate cauliflower into florets.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the cauliflower for about 5 minutes, until just starting to turn tender. Drain.
  • Warm your cream and set aside.
  • In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over low heat.  
  • Stir in the flour and keep it moving -- stirring for about 2-3 minutes more.
  • Gently add the warm cream, 1/2 cup at a time and stir until the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Whisk nonstop for 1-2 minutes until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Remove from the heat and season with salt (about 1 tsp), pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  • Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheddar and all of the mozzarella.
  • Coat the bottom of a gratin or casserole dish with a few tablespoons of the sauce.
  • Add the cauliflower to the pot with the sauce.
  • Transfer the cauliflower mixture to the dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and walnut oil and top the cheese.
  • Spoon a few tablespoons of cream around the edges of the dish, then top with a pinch of nutmeg and bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Nutty Roasted Yams and Winter Squash
4 large yams
1-2 winter squash
Walnut oil
1-2 TBS Maple syrup

To Do:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Peel the yams and chop into chunks.
  • Quarter the squash and scoop out the seeds.
  • Place in large bowl and coat with walnut oil.
  • Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with salt.
  • Roast for about 45 minutes, until tender.
  • Gently and carefully (hot!) peel squash and cut into pieces close to the size of the yams.
  • Toss the squash and yams with a bit more walnut oil, the maple syrup, salt to taste and a pinch each of cinnamon and thyme.

Happy Holidays!