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    • Randy Graham

    • August 19, 2013 in Columnists

    What’s a side dish?

    Have you ever wondered where the idiom “side dish” originated? Me, neither. But, for some reason, I have a need to articulate its origin.

    One online dictionary defines a side dish as, “A dish served as an accompaniment to the main course.” Its origin is not as clear. I could not find the origin even given the vast resources of the Internet and a talent for putting together just the right search terms.

    I say side dishes should stand on their own. They should complement the entrée. A dish such as my Fenugreek Potatoes is not only good on its own, but is a good side to my Meaty Nutloaf entree. A side of my Curried Butternut Squash and Beets complements my Falafel Burger. A side of…well…you get the picture.

    If a side dish should complement the entrée, what should it not do? I was eating at a restaurant in Swords, on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland, and was served an entrée of stir-fried veggies on a round plate. The server then brought a kidney-shaped plate containing three different salads and placed it so that the side dish wrapped around the stir-fried veggies plate. So far, so good.

    After the server turned to go back to the kitchen I said to our son, Robert, “This looks good.” Robert had a weird look on his face. He had been served first and had already tasted the salads. All three were made with heavy mayo. In fact, mayo was probably the main ingredient.

    These side salads were not tasty. In fact, the salads tasted downright nasty and took away any enjoyment I might have found in the entrée. From this experience, I learned that a side dish can actually ruin the entire meal.

    Here is a simple side dish recipe that tastes good and stands on its own. I’ll let you decide what to serve it with.

    Public Domain ImageFenugreek Potatoes

    4  cups of cubed, unpeeled potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
    4  tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    2  teaspoon ground coriander
    ½ teaspoon turmeric
    2  teaspoons fresh ginger (minced)
    1  jalapeno chile (seeded, chopped fine)
    ½ cup fresh fenugreek leaves (chopped fine)
    Salt to taste

    Scrub potatoes. Cube and boil for about 10 minutes or until not quite tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

    Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger and chile. Sauté spices for about 2 minutes. Add the potato cubes, fenugreek leaves and salt to taste. Mix well and cook, covered, on low level for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and all the water from the fenugreek leaves has evaporated.

    Serve hot and on the side!

    See Chef Randy’s food blog for more recipes at: http://valleyvegetarian.blogspot.com

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