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Vegetable side dish recipes: From anchovy-dressed chicory to radishes with anise

Fed up of boring, bland and over-cooked vegetables being banished to the side dish, food writer Ed Smith brings them right back to the main plate and mixes in plenty of grains, pulses and greens

Ed Smith
Friday 26 May 2017 13:44 BST

New potatoes with pickled samphire and sorrel

Preparation: on a hob
Time needed: more than an hour

I love this potato salad with things like hot-smoked trout, whole baked sea bream or bass and roast chicken leftovers. I bet you a tenner it’s good with steak too. The salty and sharp pickled samphire punctuates the waxy, mellow potatoes, and the extraordinary citrus flavour of sorrel enlivens things further.

Don’t be tempted to mix the sorrel leaves with the potatoes before the spuds are cool, or too long before you intend to eat the dish, as they’ll dull in both colour and taste. The samphire pickling takes just a few minutes, though you could do this up to two days in advance (and if you do that, this becomes a 15–30 minute side).

Serves 4–6

500–600g new potatoes, such as Jersey Royals or Ratte, halved
100g sorrel
3 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pickled samphire
70g samphire
130ml white wine vinegar
40g caster sugar
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

To pickle the samphire, bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the samphire for 1 minute. Drain and cool under running water or in an ice bath, drain well again, then put the samphire in a jar or container with a lid into which it fits snugly.

Dry the saucepan, then add the vinegar, sugar and mustard seeds. Bring to a gentle simmer over a low-medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Let this cool for 15 minutes, then pour it over the samphire. Cover and leave at room temperature for at least 1 hour before refrigerating until required (and for up to 2 days). When you need it, drain the samphire through a sieve, reserving the pickling liquor and mustard seeds.

To make the potato salad, put the potatoes in a medium-large pan and cover them with 2–3 times their volume of cold water. Add a good pinch of salt, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15–20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender all the way through. Drain and rinse under running water until cool.

Put the potatoes in a large bowl and add the pickled samphire, the mustard seeds from the pickling liquor and the sorrel leaves. Make a dressing by combining 2 tablespoons of the pickling liquor with the oil and plenty of black pepper. Pour this over the potatoes and toss. Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary, though remember the samphire provides occasional salty kicks.

Alongside: Tomato tonnato (page 96); Sherry cherry tomatoes (page 98); Roast Romano peppers (page 104); Honey, thyme and lime butter corn (page 124); Kohlrabi remoulade (page 208)

Warm radishes with anise

Preparation: on a hob
Time needed: less than 15 minutes

The fact that you can cook radishes may surprise some, but once warmed briefly, they become juicy and their pepperiness mellows. For the latter reason, it’s important to use good-quality French breakfast or heirloom radishes here, otherwise there’s not much flavour in the finished dish, though of course the anise from the Pernod and tarragon will be there.

Braised rabbit, baked white fish and blue cheese omelettes are among my favourite things to eat with this. Oh, and a roast rib of beef.

Serves 4–6

300g French breakfast radishes, leaves removed
20g butter
4 tablespoons Pernod
Leaves from 7–8 stems tarragon, roughly chopped
Finely grated zest of ½ orange
Sea salt

First, wash the radishes thoroughly. Cut most of them in half lengthways, leaving only the very small ones whole.

Put the butter in a medium saucepan or frying pan over a medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is nearly frothing, add the Pernod. Let it reduce for 10–20 seconds, then whisk in 1 tablespoon water. Add the radishes and cook for 3–4 minutes, turning them frequently in the buttery liquid.

Remove from the heat, add the tarragon, stir and immediately transfer to a serving bowl. Season with salt and the orange zest and pour any cooking juices over the top.

Alongside: Grilled tenderstem broccoli with umami crumbs (page 40); Asparagus with cured egg yolk (page 60); Baby aubergine, oregano and chilli bake (page 136); Boulangère potatoes (page 168); Carrot-juice carrots (page 218)

Anchovy-dressed chicory

Preparation: on the counter
Time needed: less than 15 minutes

Bitter leaves and an anchovy-heavy dressing… there aren’t many things that I wouldn’t serve this with, although lamb, beef or offal dishes are very good, particularly if they’ve got a nice char to them.

The anchovies are chopped finely, rather than mashed and emulsified with oil, so there’s an intense burst of savouriness with each bite, while the red wine vinegar ensures the dressing is piquant enough to lift the leaves and the salty fish. I know some will recoil at all this, but also that others will find it hugely addictive.

Serves 4–6

1 large or 2 small heads (about 200g) white chicory (Belgian endive)
2 heads (about 300g) red chicory or small red radicchio
Leaves from 6–8 stems flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
50g tinned anchovies in oil, finely chopped
¼ garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Separate the chicory leaves, trimming the bases as needed. Cut the largest 5 or 6 outer leaves in half lengthways and keep the remaining leaves whole. Chop the tightly packed cores finely.

Fill a large bowl or sink with cold water and put the leaves in for a few minutes (this ensures they are crisp and refreshing). Remove from the water and spread out to drain and dry fully on a clean tea towel. Fill a salad bowl or platter with the leaves and sprinkle the parsley leaves over the top.

Make the dressing by whisking the remaining ingredients together (including the oil the anchovies came in) until emulsified. When ready to eat, dress the salad, ensuring all the leaves are well coated.

Alongside: Kale, Romanesco, Parmesan and pine nut salad (page 28); Mangal chopped salad (page 108); Chicken stock and orange-braised fennel (page 120); Caponata (page 140); New potatoes with seaweed butter (page 176)

Extract taken from On the Side: A Sourcebook of Inspiring Side Dishes by Ed Smith (Bloomsbury, £20). Photography © Joe Woodhouse

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