Summer, as always, has come early to Brisbane. Kid and I have come up with a bunch of side dishes to keep you busy over the warmer months. Largely aimed at a good Aussie bbq or Sunday roast or anytime where just sharing a meal is the occasion. Or even eaten on their own…
Sth East Asian Slaw – Shred a heap of vegetables – cabbage, spring onions, carrots, capsicums, cucumber and mint for example and dress it with this – Little Cahn Tho , from our Dress Me Slowly post.
Bbq Corn On The Cob – Start with good fresh corn. Look for vivid yellow colour and plump, shiny kernels. It’s okay to pull the sheath back a little in the shops. Place it in the oven or a warm spot on the bbq for about 20 – 30 mins. Allow the corn to cool just enough to handle. Peel the husks away and toss the corn in some butter, parmesan, chives, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt.Roast kipflers with Garlic Aioli – Wash and slice kipfler potatoes. Other potatoes will work of course. Ask the grocer what’s best for roasting at the moment. Toss the spuds with a light olive oil, chopped thyme and a little salt. You’ll find our aioli recipe here to serve with.Roast Baby Carrots w/ Feta – Carrots take on a lovely sweet flavour when roasted. And tangy, salty feta makes a great match. Persian feta is excellent but expensive. Beware of imitations. Persian ‘Style’ feta is ordinary feta that’s been marinated. Doesn’t mean it’s no good though. Goats curd is a good fit too. Heat the oven to 160*c. Wash and trim the carrots. Don’t peel them. Toss with a little olive oil, salt and cracked pepper (optional). Some fresh thyme or rosemary if it’s available. Bake for 10-15 minutes and crumble some feta over the top to serve.Greens Bean Salad w/ Pancetta, Sherry Vinegar and Almonds – Blanch and re-fresh some green beans or sugar snap peas or both. Blanching is to plunge into boiling hot, lightly salted water, remove and drop into ice water. Drain beans. Bake a few strips of pancetta until crispy. Chop some toasted almonds. Mix 1 part sherry vinegar to 3 olive oil and toss everything together happily. Serve.
Avocado Caprese – the classic Italian salad made in the colours of the national flag. Avo matches so well with everything here it seems a shame it wasn’t included in the original. Juicy, ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper and now, avocado. Slice the ingredients and arrange on a plate. Drizzle the dressing liberally, 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Croutons add a nice touch as well. Crunchy Brown Rice – I would happily eat this everyday. We are very much a brown/red rice house. It is basically white rice before the husk is removed. I like the flavour and its way better on my digestion than white.The addition of toasted seeds and nuts makes it all crunchy and nutty and yummy.
1/2 cup brown rice, 1/2 red rice, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds. 1/2 cup nuts. 100ml good olive oil, juice from 1 lemon, 1 bunch of parsley – chopped and picked. Simmer the rices together in lightly salted water for about 30-35 mins. Rinse and refresh. Toast the seeds and nuts all together on *140 for about 20 mins or until just toasty. Grind them a bit in a mortar and pestle.
Combine rice, seeds, parsley, oil and lemon with a little salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold.Iceberg Wedges w/ Pine Nut Pangritata and Ranch Dressing. Wash and drain the ice-berg lettuce well. Cut or tear it into big fat chunks. Then apply these two additions liberally. Ranch dressing and Pangritata.Sunday Salad – whatever you want with whichever dressing you want to pick from here 😉 It’s called a Sunday Salad because it’s something you might just graze on all daylong. We’ve used things like beetroot, shaved fennel, rocket and avocado. Think fresh and crisp for inspiration.
Mash? Maybe not so summer but some people are die hards.. Mash potato
Chilled Soba Noodles w/ Cashews and Miso. Cook and chill some soba noodles. These are a Japanese variety made from buckwheat, not too hard to find. Buckwheat is gluten-free but read the packet to be sure before making any assumptions of that nature. To the chilled noodles add sliced spring onions, roasted and chopped cashews and bean sprouts. Make the Miso Dressing at the bottom of this article. Combine and serve.
Celeriac Remoulade – This goes against my ‘eating with the seasons’ ethos, as celeriac is a cool climate vegetable. This classic French dish though, belongs in summer. Be careful not to buy ‘woody’ celeriacs. Knock on them with your knuckle, if the sound is hollow, don’t buy them.
Peel and shred the celeriac. 1 was enough for 5 of us. Add a little lemon juice, mayonnaise, sliced Spanish onion, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Make it at least 2 hours before you plan to serve it to allow the vegetable to soften.
Roasted Baby Beets w/ Yoghurt and Tahini. Turn your oven onto 160*c. Trim the stalks from some baby beets, leaving about 2 cm. Put some slightly crumpled alfoil on a baking tray. This is to keep the beets in place. Rock salt helps also. Place the beets on tray, drizzle with a little oil and roast for approx 45 mins to an hour depending on size. A skewer should insert easily. In the mean time make our Yoghurt, Tahini and Mint dressing from Dress Me Slowly, cut beets in half once cooled slightly and pour the dressing over.What Kids Can Do
Kids are the heart and soul of any family dinner. How you choose to engage with them will differ vastly from family to family no doubt. I will say this though, the time I spent around the kitchen or shopping with mum or down the back yard filleting fish, cooking crabs or repairing crab pots are some of my fondest and most vivid memories of childhood. As are the family bbqs.
Our food culture in Australia is, generally speaking, one of meat accompanied by such and such.. And why not? We have access to some of the world’s best red meats, poultry and seafood. The land of plenty.
The land of too much sometimes?
‘It’s a meat and potatoes kind of town’ (Brisbane) I was once told by a potential employer upon arriving back from Europe after a working holiday..
Well. If that’s what the people want…
I do, however, think it’s equally important to think of what we’re going to serve with that meat. And whilst we’re doing all of this ‘thinking’, let’s look at how much protein each of us needs to put on our plates, what it means to the animal involved, the water it took to grow that animal, the land cleared, the top soil potentially lost, the health effects of a high meat diet, what has to happen in order for that 500g T-bone to be available to you in the supermarket or on the local pub menu 7 days a week..
I’ll be clear here. I’m not advocating a particular position. You do what you like. I am advocating, as is kinda the whole point of this blog, knowing where you’re food comes from and considering what you and your kids are eating. I think a small amount of well produced animal protein is a great way to make a whole lot of plant life taste really wonderful. I also feel that regular periods without said protein and loads of said plant life (yes, including grains) can lead to happy days.
We are also, with any luck, the example our kids will follow.