SALADS and SIDES
Side dishes have always been one of my specialties. I feel I can be my most creative playing with vegetables, grains and spices that are inspired by a range of cuisines. Side dishes, along with condiment dollops add the zest to any meal. Pairing suggestions are offered with each recipe, but these dishes can stand on their own as a light meal and many as part of a great picnic feast.
Blood oranges are in the markets from January through early spring. Their colorful flesh makes a nice contrast with the golden beets, fennel and Point Reyes blue cheese in this tasty salad. You can substitute with other orange varieties if you can't find blood oranges.
Serve these muffins warm with my Southwest Pork Stew or Harvest Gumbo. The slightly crunchy texture from the polenta cornmeal adds interest. Leftovers (if you have any) are great rewarmed for breakfast. For truly fresh organic polenta, order from Anson Mills in South Carolina. In fact, all of their products are wonderful at ansonmill.com
Just east of Sacramento on the way to our winery is the small farming plain of Sloughouse. There, at the Davis Ranch, is grown the best sweet corn, both yellow and white. Cut off the cob and sautéed with sweet peppers, garlic, zucchini and basil, this succotash is great next to grilled flank steak, guacamole, and warm tortillas.
When it's hot I move my cooking outdoors. This grilled version of ratatouille is fresh, lively and tastes like it just came from the summer garden. It is equally good as a side to grilled meats or on it's own over rice or pasta.
This is a fast salad to make on a hot night when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.
The ingredients all come from your refrigerator, garden and pantry and are very flexible.
It is perfect as part of a composed plate with leftover grilled meats or simply pair with a big green salad and some sliced tomatoes.
This versatile salad is great for lunch at room temperature on a bed of greens with some crumbled feta or goat cheese. For dinner, I love this salad warm with a beautiful piece of grilled King Salmon.
For an outdoor BBQ, pair with grilled Merguez (lamb) sausages and some crusty bread.
This extremely simple side dish sings when made with the right potatoes and Italian flat leaf parsley (from your garden is best). Use a waxy, thin skin variety like Yukon Gold or Yellow Finnish that hold together when steamed. Red and white potatoes will also work, but stay away from bakers like Russets.
I served this salad at our Behind the Cellar Door event last March and everyone wanted the recipe. You can cook the white beans yourself or use good quality can beans, rinsed well and drained. This salad is great for a picnic or lunch on the patio with a cold glass of rosé.