June 23, 2017

From the most basic boiled carrots and beans to fresh peas and mashed potatoes vegetables serve as traditional, straight-forward side dishes. While there’s nothing wrong with incorporating these sides in a meal, many Colorado culinary school students are looking for more intricate dishes, advanced presentations and unique combinations of flavors, whether cooking at home or in a professional capacity.

Consider these more modern vegetable sides the next time you’re putting together a menu, or just a meal at home:

Broccoli and peanuts

“A unique side helps diners focus on the whole meal.”

This unusual mix of tastes from Bon Appetit pays off on the plate with a few unique touches that bring out the best flavors from the ingredients. First, gather your ingredients. You’ll need:

  • About one-and-one-half pounds of broccoli with the stems peeled and ends trimmed.
  • One-quarter cup of unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped.
  • Four thinly sliced scallions.
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Two tablespoons of plain rice vinegar.
  • About two-and-one-half tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
  • One-half teaspoon of sugar.
  • Flaky sea salt.
  • Regular salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and have a cast-iron skillet at the ready. Begin by slicing the broccoli stems diagonally, with each piece about one-quarter inch thick. Then, place the stems on an edged baking sheet and toss them with olive oil, adding salt and pepper. From there, take the leftover pieces of broccoli florets and chop them finely. Roast the stems for about 15-20 minutes and add the vinegar, lightly tossing the stems to coat them.

Next, heat the dry skillet using medium-high heat, add the chopped florets, season and stir for about five minutes, removing once light charring starts to show. Drop the heat to low, add the sugar and peanuts, and cook until the legumes attain a golden brown color. Cut the heat, add the two tablespoons of yeast, and season one more time. Finally, mix the stems and florets, then top with scallions, sea salt and a bit more yeast.

Pickled daikon radish

This Korean dish, called Danmuji, is suggested by Serious Eats as a flavorful and visually appealing side. Gather:

  • One-and-one-half cups water.
  • One-and-one-half cups unseasoned rice vinegar.
  • A one-pound daikon radish cut into four-inch by one-quarter-inch strips.
  • A half-cup of sugar.
  • A tablespoon of salt.
  • Two garlic cloves, halved.
  • One teaspoon turmeric powder.
  • Two bay leaves.
  • 15 whole black peppercorns.

You’ll also need a medium saucepan and a paper towel on hand. Mix all ingredients except the cut radish in the medium saucepan, and then boil the mixture over medium-high heat while stirring regularly to completely dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat, move the saucepan and add the radish. Press a paper towel over the top of the mixture – to ensure even brining – and let the mixture sit for one to two hours. Then, simply place the pickled radish and brine in an airtight glass container. You can make this dish well ahead of time, as it will keep for about four weeks.

A unique side helps diners focus on the whole meal. Keep these recipes in mind the next time you want to experiment with sides.