Zucchine Al Forno – Side by Side

Side dishes have always been important in meals not just in India but all over. A side is typically a food item that accompanies the main course. It is usually served in a small portion and is responsible for elevating the the eating experience of the main course. In most meals, the main function of the side dish is to improve the nutritive value of the the meal and hence salads are the most common sides. Additionally, the sides need to be in accordance with the meal theme, provide balance of flavour and contrasting texture.  To put it simply,  the main function of a side dish is to tantalise the taste buds and make eating a great experience . In Italian food, often along with pastas, garlic bread, salads, vegetable gratin etc are good accompaniments. Continue reading “Zucchine Al Forno – Side by Side”

Herbed Balsamic & Honey Carrots

Vegetable markets have always been a source of inspiration. As I saunter through the colourful alleys of greens, reds and yellows, hundreds of ideas flood my mind and I end up buying more than required! My domestic help prefers that I do not go to the vegetable market 🙂 

Last morning was no different. But this time one peculiar thing caught my eye. In one of the stalls, along with the exotic regular veggies ( sounds such an oxymoron isn’t it?)  like broccoli, bell peppers, salad greens etc, from the basket popped out vibrant orange baby carrots with bright green tops! Carrots are very easily available, but baby carrots are very rarely available in Pune, unless they grow on your farm. They looked irresistible and I had to pick them up! Here is a side dish I came up with.

Ingredients

  1. Baby Carrots – 10-12
  2. Balsamic Vinegar – 2 tbsp
  3. Honey – 1 tbsp
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Pepper – 1/2 tsp
  6. Dried Mixed herbs 1 tsp
  7. Chilli flakes – 1/2 tsp
  8. Lemon Zest –  a pinch
  9. Oil – 1 tbsp
  10. Lettuce leaves
  11. Garlic cloves chopped 2-3

Do it this way :

  1. Remove the tops and wash the baby carrots.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add the carrots to the oil. Add all the ingredients and toss the carrots to coat. Adjust the sweet and sour balance and salt to taste. Let the carrots cook for a few minutes till slightly tender yet al dente. Serve on  bed of lettuce leaves of your choice.

The balsamic vinegar adds that fruitiness and sourness to the sweet carrots. Along with the honey, it creates a nice glaze for the carrots.  I had some boiled broccoli florets which I tossed in the above glaze and they also tasted absolutely delicious. Garlic powder can also be used instead of fresh garlic. Fresh herbs like oregano and thyme can also be used in place of dried herbs. Due to the small size of the carrots, they cook up pretty fast. So just make this interesting side dish just few minutes before the serving time.

Mint & Peas

Peas are in season now and I had a bumper crop in my vegetable garden. It was absolutely fun picking the peas in pods from the climbers and god only knows how many I must have gobbled up while picking!  They were so fresh and the pods so tender because I picked them early on while the peas were small. I decided why not use these tender pods as well along with the peas to make a nice hearty soup for the cold winter nights! The pods are otherwise not used unlike the snap peas and the snow peas where the pods are eaten regularly. These tender pods of the green peas are very much edible and contribute to the dietary fibre.  And using fresh mint from the garden was like a marriage made in the heaven! Peas pair really well with mint and the soup gets its freshness from the mint. I also have a very nice recipe for a pea and potatoes salad with a mint dressing in my repertoire. I will be sharing the recipe for this salad along with the Mint and Peas soup, in this blog. Enjoy! Continue reading “Mint & Peas”

The fennel-tastic Salad!!!

Fennel takes me back to the school days. Mostly every school in India would have street vendors outside the gate of the premises selling school kids their favourite food stuff like salted raw mango slices, amla slices, karvand (bush plum), ber(Indian jujube), tamarind and fresh fennel seeds on fronds! Little did I know at that time that this very fennel has bulbs from which the stalks grow and that the bulbs are edible raw as well as cooked! Continue reading “The fennel-tastic Salad!!!”