Embrace those colourful spring sides

MARK DEWOLF ✉ mdewolf@herald.ca @withzesttours Mark DeWolf is currently the creative director of food and drink at the SaltWire Network, director of marketing and communications of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) and pastpreside



SaltWire Network



Often the difference between a good and great meal are the side dishes. While there are classics, such as fat laden mashed potatoes, your side dishes can be both healthy and fresh. Here are some options that don’t lack in flavour. As a collateral benefit, these spring side dishes bring to eye catching colour to an evening meal. As the saying goes ‘we eat with our eyes’ and to avoid any unwanted fat going to thighs, keep the sides fresh and healthy. THREE BUDGETING TIPS FOR SPRING DÉCOR Repurposed napkins - While you can always get colourful napkins from the grocery store, consider a more environmental conscious DIY approach. Repurpose those old floral print curtains or spring dress into napkins. Mix and match dishware – It’s a trend that has been popular amongst hipster restaurants for almost a decade. Colourful antique (and almost antique) China plates, often found at second- hand stores, make for a fun and eclectic spring table display. Simple centerpieces - Forego the grand floral display for the simple approach of a few flowers placed in a repurpose glass jar. If you cannot find wildflowers, consider adding a few loose branches, complimented by a string of some white LED lights that are available at your local discount store. SPANISH-STYLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER 6 servings 1 head cauliflower, florets removed 1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 tbsp smoked paprika 1 tsp salt 1 lemon, zested, juiced Preheat oven to 425˚F. Spread cauliflower florets over baking sheet. Drizzle Directions: florets with olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika (I like Spanish pimenton, but regular paprika works) and salt. Bake for 25–30 minutes. Turn cauliflower once to make sure undersides do not burn. Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon zest and drizzle with lemon juice. This makes a great side dish with a simple roast chicken. FRAGRANT ROASTED CARROTS 6 servings 8 cups carrot, sliced 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced 2 tsp cumin, toasted, ground ¼ tsp each salt & pepper 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped Preheat oven to 425˚F. Toss carrots with olive oil, ginger, cumin, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast for 35–40 minutes. Just before serving, toss with fresh dill. Serve as a side dish to roast salmon. Directions: ORANGE AND APRICOT COUSCOUS 4 to 6 servings 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tbsp fresh ginger 1 3/4 cups vegetable stock 2 cinnamon sticks 1 orange, zested, juiced 1 cup dried apricot pieces, chopped 1 cup couscous ¼ cup fresh mint roughly chopped ½ cup almond slivers, toasted Place medium pot over medium-low heat. Add vegetable oil and onion, and sauté until soft and translucent. Add garlic, minced ginger and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add vegetable stock, cinnamon sticks, orange zest and apricot pieces. Bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5–10 minutes. Add chopped fresh mint, toasted almond slivers and orange juice. Fluff couscous with a fork. Serve as a side dish to braised chicken or lamb. Directions: APPLE AND RED CABBAGE SLAW ½ shallot, finely diced 1 tbsp Dijon mustard ¼ cup local cider vinegar ⅓ cup olive oil 2 tbsp chopped tarragon 1 tbsp honey 2 apples, cored, cut into matchsticks 4 cups shredded red cabbage 1 cup raisin Directions: Start by making the vinaigrette. Place diced shallot, mustard and cider vinegar in a bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Add tarragon. In a large bowl combine apple, red cabbage and raisins. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Serve with pan-fried cod or halibut.