Encore! This Culinary Supporting Cast of Autumn Dishes Deserves a Second Bow, and a Second Helping!

Misc. / October 26, 2015

Lately, I seem to be on a side dish binge. Salads, vegetables, and sauces are rolling out of my kitchen like lottery tickets on the Turnpike. And they’ve all been winners! Bursting with flavors you wouldn’t expect, but the taste you demand, these recipes will bring satisfaction and conversation to EVERY table.

First, an easy, garlic-free Chimichurri Sauce (You don’t always need garlic. And my husband must be part Vampire, because he and garlic are NOT friends.) Just a few pulses with your food processor and you have an amazing topping for any meat that is part of your late-fall grilling sessions. Top steak, chicken or seafood.

It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving to enjoy this beautiful side dish you see below…You’ll run straight for the dinner table with my Tipsy Yam Casserole topped with Candied Ham. Quick, colorful and so, so good!
Need a good salad to take to parties that will turn heads and cause a fork-wielding battle for the last bite? Then start the boiling water now for my Mini Pepper and Ham Macaroni Salad with Creamy Lemon Oregano Dressing. Cold and crunchy,  and packed with freshness, you’ll steal the stage in every bite.

The women cooks I grew up with were terrible at being gracious about their amazing cooking. Why, upon hearing a compliment about the meal, they would always say, “Oh, my! No. I forgot to add the eggs until the last minute, so it’s not as good as it could be!” It was a contest to see who could deflect kinds words with more gusto. I don’t have that problem because my philosophy is if YOU don’t like how you cook, or even to eat what you cook, ya need to get out of the kitchen and pass the spatula to someone who will stand up and say, “Yeah. I’m pretty proud of how this came out!”

And proud I was. My Cold Bean and Pear Salad with a Cranberry Mango Habanero Vinaigrette is one of the best salads I’ve every made. Seriously gorgeous, easy, and bridges the gaps between side and salad so you’re always bringing the best thing to the table. Which is what show-stopping is all about! YUM!!!


Perfect Chimichurri Sauce

Serves 4-6


Ingredients:

2 C Italian Parsley Leaves
1 Cup Fresh Cilantro
¼ inch slice white onion
3 heaping
t capers, drained
½ t cumin
½ to 1 t chili flakes
Salt and pepper to your taste
2-3 T mild olive oil (as needed)
1 t fresh lemon juice


Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients, except oil, in to a food processor. Pulse and blend until chopped into small pieces but not pureed.You may need to stop and scrape edges into mixture with a small spatula.Then, add the oil a bit at a time and blend well. Pulse again until pureed,so all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Serve on steaks, over pasta, over chicken or on a sandwich! Can keep covered in fridge for about 4 days.

Tipsy Yam Casserole with Candied Ham

Serves 4-6


Ingredients:

2 large yams, peeled and cubed or about
4-5 C yams when cubed.
2-3 T honey
6 T butter
2 T good brandy
½ T kosher salt
½ t allspice
1 C honey ham cut into small cubes
2 T brown sugar
1 t oil for greasing baking dish


Directions:

  • Boil cubed yams until tender. Drain and place in a large glass bowl. Add honey, brandy, 4 T butter and kosher salt. Stir with a fork until blended but a little chunky. Spread into the bottom of a small glass casserole dish so that yams are at least 2-3 inches deep.
  • In a small saucepan melt 2 T butter. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the ham and let cook for about 3-4 minutes on medium low, to candy the ham. Spread the ham on the top of the yams in the baking dish,including all the butter/sugar mixture.
  • Cook in a 425 degree F oven for about 10 minutes or until there is some caramelization on the tips of the ham.
  • NOTE – if you want you can make the yam mixture and spread in casserole dish, cover and refrigerate for up to a day. Candy the ham at the last minute and top right before baking. In this case, take the
    yams out of the fridge about 45 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature and cook for 15 minutes.

Mini Pepper, Ham and Basil Macaroni Salad

With a Creamy Lemon Oregano Dressing

Serves 10


Ingredients:

6 C cooked, cooled elbow macaroni
1 large cucumber peeled, seeded and sliced thin
1 to 1 ½ C julienned red and yellow mini peppers
3 regular stalks celery chopped or sliced
2 large garlic cloves chopped finely
¾ cup diced honey ham
Large handful fresh, grated parmesan cheese
½ t dried oregano
1 ½ C mayonnaise
¼ C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T oil
Salt and Pepper
¼ C or handful of julienned fresh basil leaves


Directions:

  • Combine cooked macaroni with the peppers, cucumber, celery,ham, garlic and cheese. Toss well. In another small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and oregano. Whisk to a smooth consistency. Pour half the dressing over salad and combine. Add the rest to the creaminess you prefer. Finally,add the julienned basil, chill for about an hour for best flavor,and serve.

Cold Bean and Pear Salad

With a Cranberry, Mango Habanero Vinaigrette

Serves 10


Ingredients:

1 24 oz. package frozen Haricot Verts from Trader Joes
2 Bartlett or other sweet pears, cut into ½ inch chunks
1/3 C golden raisins
1/3 C cilantro or large handful, reserving some large leaves for garnish
1/3 C shaved slices of white sweet onion
1/3 C Mango Habanero marinade/dressing
¼ C Cranberry Pear White Balsamic or other sweet, fruity white balsamic
1 T light oil
¼ C chopped, crystalized ginger
Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

  • Add frozen beans to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and when you see steam and one or two bubbles, test a bean to make sure it is hot and tender enough. (You do not want to “cook” the beans. They come blanched already. You just want them hot.) Remove from heat, drain and shock beans in cold water to stop cooking process.Drain again when cooled, and thoroughly dry the beans with a paper towel. You don’t want any moisture on them when trying to add dressing.
  • In another bowl, combine the dressing, oil, balsamic, salt and pepper and whisk well. Toss with the pears, onions,and raisins. Then add the beans and toss to coat. Add the cilantro and chill for about an hour for best flavor.

TIP: Can add some tangy goat cheese if desired.



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