I have always been all about the sides.
When you have a habit of wanting to taste the food on everyone's plate at the table, side dishes are important to you. They offer variety in a meal. Sure, the hunk of beef, chicken breast or fish maybe are delicious, but the side dishes really bring out the best in the main dish. I always like to have at least two sides, and one of them has to be special.
For this casual Sunday evening dinner, I was making some super easy tilapia with some herbs de provence and lemon rub. I decided to focus on some more adventurous sides. They both were very flavorful and turned out very well. I loved the zaatar carrots because the natural sweetness in the carrots contrasted the tangy kick of the zaatar spices; this made for such an interesting combination. I imagine you could substitute any vegetable for carrots like asparagus, zucchini, potatoes, etc. I also made brown rice with lemon, shallots and toasted pine nuts....yummmm. Yes, it was good.
(Serves 4, recipe from "Food Network Magazine")
Preheat 2 baking sheets in a 450 degree oven. Quarter 4 pounds carrots lengthwise and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread on the hot baking sheets and roast until browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Toss with 4 teaspoons za'atar (a spice blend available at Middle Eastern markets), 3 tablespoons chopped parsley and the juice of 1 lemon.
Brown Rice with Lemon, Shallots and Toasted Pine Nuts
(Serves 4, recipe from "For the Love of Cooking")
2 tbsp pine nuts
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 shallot diced finely
1 tsp lemon zest divided in two
Brown rice prepared per instructions (use vegetable or chicken stock to cook the rice - it's much more flavorful). Also, add 1/2 tsp of lemon zest to rice while cooking.
1 tsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
While the brown rice is cooking, add pine nuts to a DRY skillet over medium heat. Toast the nuts stirring often, until they are golden brown 2-3 minutes. After the nuts are finished cooking, remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft and tender. They cook fast so stir them often. Once rice is finished cooking, add pine nuts, shallots, the remainder of lemon zest, butter and salt and pepper to taste.