For some the eternal question is – “What’s for dinner?”
For others (ie. my mother and I) the eternal question is – “What are we going to serve with it?”
“It,” of course, being the meat of the matter – the pan-seared filet with port wine reduction sauce and roasted shallots, the hazelnut crusted halibut, or the slow-roasted BBQ brisket that’s been perfuming the house for the past five hours.
While meat is all well and good, I, like my mother whose friends nicknamed her “Spud” in college due to her affection for potatoes, am a devoted lover of sides. My eyes glisten at the sight of tender slivers of green beans, my heart palpitates when I’m presented with a well-crusted ramekin of mac and cheese, and I am perfectly content to make a meal out of a big bowl of creamy risotto.
If I have some steamed broccoli on the side, of course.
I even go so far as to base my ordering decisions at restaurants on the “with’s.”
“I can’t possibly order the hangar steak if it only comes with arugula!” I’ll say, dismissively.
“Brussels sprouts? Hardly a good companion for duck!” I’ll snivel.
And then my eye will land on the John Dory served with pan-fried gnocchi, chanterelle mushrooms and celery root puree.
“That’s it!” I’ll proclaim. “I’m ordering the gnocchi and mushrooms! Err…I mean, the John Dory.”
Given my ordering behavior (and enthusiasm for potato dumplings), it should come as no surprise that I often enjoy the sides more than what others might consider the “main event.”
Such was the case when I made Orangette’s decadent bouchons au thon for my dinner two weekends ago.
I didn’t intend for it to happen. In fact, I was prepared to have trouble limiting myself to just two of the “tuna corks.” I was as shocked as anyone (and by anyone I mean no one other than myself) to discover that, while the bouchons were very tasty, I only wanted to eat the roasted fingerling potato, green bean and shallot salad I’d made to go with them.
The next night I couldn’t wait to heat up my leftover bouchons so I could have the salad again. The rustic potatoes and beans were enlivened by the lemon parsley dressing, and the bright citrus flavor helped temper the richness of the bouchons. The salad is the reason I keep defrosting my leftover tuna corks to have for dinner, and I know it will continue to show up in my meal rotation long after the bouchons are gone.
Even if I don’t have anything to go with it other than a crisp glass of white wine.
Roasted Fingerling, Green Bean and Shallot Salad with Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette
Makes 1 entree-sized portion or 2 side-sized portions
4-5 fingerling potatoes cut into pieces
1 cup green beans, cut into inch-long pieces
1 large shallot sliced into thin rings
Handful of arugula
Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon parsley, finely minced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss potatoes and shallots with drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and begin roasting in a Pyrex dish or on a cookie sheet. After approximately 10 minutes, add the green beans. Stir together and roast for an additional 15 minutes or until beans and potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile combine dressing ingredients with a whisk or fork. Set aside.
When potatoes and vegetables are done, remove from oven and immediately pour the lemon parsley dressing over them. Serve over a bed of arugula.