Healthy Sides for Every Meal
WORDS:: CHYKA KEEBAUGH
PHOTOS:: LISA ATKINSON
AS THE WEATHER COOLS AND WE START CRAVING FOOD A LITTLE HEAVIER, A SELECTION OF SIDES IS SOMETHING WE ALL NEED TO HAVE UP OUR SLEEVE…
Simple, seasonal recipes that can be made to compliment your meals, nothing too fancy to outshine your main - but ones that look good, taste great and bring a little fuss and colour to your table. As most of us sit down daily to a serving of protein, the salads that accompany the main need to be light and fresh, colourful and delicious. So let’s get familiar with these sides, I promise they will be ones you go back to time and time again.
BUT WHAT GOES WITH WHAT?
The first step is to have a main dish that you want to cook and then work from there. What kind of side matches this meal? If your main meal consists of red meat - go for a lighter, acidic salad or a selection of vegetables. If your main is light - say a hearty salad or fish, maybe choose something to bulk your side up, think pulses and legumes or even some great seeded bread.
If you are roasting your main, how about frying or having a fresh raw side? Think about balance and also how much of the kitchen you are using! A completely roasted meal is too heavy (although it sounds delicious!).
What’s in season? This can guide your main and your side, so have a look at what is in surplus at the moment and start from there. Can your meal include a protein, a vegetable and a starch? If so, let's try and cover those food groups for a whole, filling meal.
CORN & CUCUMBER SALAD WITH CRACKED FREEKEH
2 cups(380g) cracked freekeh
2½ cups (625ml) water
2 corn cobs, husks removed
2 cups micro (baby) flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup (75g) sunflower sSeeds
2 long green chilies, thinly sliced
½ cup (80g) dried currants
2 cups stone sprouts+
2 Lebanese cucumber, sliced lengthways
¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk
¼ cup finely chopped chives
½ tsp sea salt flakes
cracked black pepper
Place the freekeh and water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until almost tender. Remove from the heat and allow to steam, covered, for 10 minutes or until tender and the water has absorbed.
While the freekeh is cooking, preheat a char-grill pan over high heat. Cook the corn, turning, for 20 minutes or until lightly charred all over. Cool slightly and cut the kernels from the corncobs. Set aside.
To make the dressing, place the buttermilk, chive, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine. Place the freekeh, corn, parsley, sunflower seeds, chilli, half the currants and half the dressing in a bowl, and toss to combine.
Divide among bowls and top with the sprouts, cucumber and remaining currants. Serve with the remaining dressing. Serves 4.
+ Stone sprouts are an Asian herb with a sweet, crisp flavour and are available at health food stores or specialty grocers. If you can’t find them, substitute with mung beans or your favourite herbs.
I love this side, it is simple and no cook, so perfect to make before guests arrive. It is a fresh and colourful salad that works so well as a side to a hot meaty dish.
3 medium or 6 small Israeli cucumbers, chopped small
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped small
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
FRESH PEA SALAD
500g fresh peas, shelled
1 small red onion, sliced finely
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 mint leaves
10 green or purple basil leaves
80g salted ricotta, grated roughly
Blanch the peas in boiling salted water for a couple of minutes, then drain and refresh in iced water.
Remove the cold peas from the water and place in a large bowl.
Add the onion, olive oil and vinegar — you should just be able to taste the vinegar but it shouldn't be too strong.
Season with salt and pepper.
Toss through the mint, basil and ricotta and serve immediately.
Recipe Credits: Corn + Cucumber Salad via Donna Hay, Fresh Pea Salad via Jamie Oliver, Israeli Salad via MarthaStewart.com