Roasted Delicata Squash
You don't have to peel delicata squash to make these roasted squash slices. Serve warm as a side dish, or at room temp as a snack with a spicy aioli dipping sauce.
Spätzle (aka Spaetzle)
Apparently spätzle translates to little swallows in German, which makes a lot of sense when you consider their shape. These micro-dumplings cook in a just a few minutes, and are great plain with browned butter or topped with slowly braised meat.
Fast and Easy Creamed Spinach
This is a little easier, a little quicker, a little more contemporary, and believe it or not, a little lighter than traditional creamed spinach. Have all your ingredients ready to go ahead of time. It's a classic steak side dish.
Farro with Wild Mushrooms
We don't get to eat a lot of food that's identical to what the ancient Romans would have eaten, which is one of the things that makes farro so fun. They must have had mushrooms and fermented cream back then, so it's easy to imagine Cleopatra and Mark Antony enjoying this dish.
Chef John's Baked Acorn Squash
I like how this tastes, but scoring the squash with a knife before baking really makes for a great presentation. It also allows the simple but delicious glaze to penetrate nice and deep.
Chef John's Roasted Brussels Sprouts
This makes a very nice side dish to your holiday feast, and I can't think of a main course, especially one made from some type of succulent animal, that this wouldn't pair wonderfully with.
Here's my version of what's often called 'the San Francisco treat,' although the next time I see this served here will be the first time. I used real chicken broth and a variety of seasonings.
Braised Black Lentils
Braised black lentils, also known as beluga lentils, since they resemble the most prized of all caviar varieties, make up one of my favorite side dishes.
Baked "Fried" Rice
If you don't have cold leftover rice around, this easy oven method will produce something very similar to the classic fried rice, with the perfect texture every time. Just like rice pilaf, the grains of rice get coated in fat before absorbing the cooking liquid, ensuring plump, tender, separate grains with no sticky clumps. Just adjust cooking time if using a different kind of rice or pan size. Garnish with green onions and serve with a runny poached egg on top if desired.
Sweet Potato Souffles
It's a universal fact that people love puffy food, souffles being one of most versatile. As long as you don't knock all the air out of the egg whites in the batter, not much can actually go wrong. Since mashed sweet potato is the base, these souffles are even easier than the traditional method that requires a saucy base. They'll deflate quickly after exiting the oven, so hurry and snap those photos! Serve with cayenne-seasoned maple syrup if you like.
How to Make Perfect Polenta
Polenta is nothing more than coarsely ground cornmeal. The classic ratio is 1 part polenta to 4 parts water, but I like to measure the polenta just a little scant of a full cup. I often use chicken broth instead of water. It's a perfect base for any kind of saucy meat or mushroom ragout.