5.04.2019

Summery Southwestern Sides

Sometimes I get into a rut when it comes to side dishes.

On the starch front, rice is the culprit, especially since my friend Laura gave me a rice cooker. It’s so easy to rely on for almost any meal.

In the vegetable department, I’m a bit more seasonal, switching things up from time to time... but the guiltiest party here is a bunch of asparagus. Pop it in the steamer and plop it down next to whatever is on the plate. Fancy, eh?

I do sometimes jüj up my asparagus a bit by slicing it thinly on the diagonal, adding some lemon zest and giving it a quick sauté in olive oil. But it’s still asparagus, and I’m still in a rut.

This week, when making my Cinnamon Chile Chocolate Pork Tenderloin, I decided that my sides needed more than a quick jüj. I needed to step up my game. I’ve often served it with this Quinoa and Black Bean Salad, which is quite wonderful… but, after several times, it feels a bit like a rut.

I decided my Southwestern-inspired pork deserved a more Southwestern side. I reached for my homemade Chipotle Chiles in Adobo and put some sweet potatoes on to boil. These creamy mashed chipotle sweets are the perfect backdrop - both flavor-wise and visually - for the pork. And I served it with the lovely Héritage Rosé from Château Barbebelle - you can read about it on the Provence WineZine.

I also found some I’itoi (ee’ee-toy) onions at the farmers market grown by Eunice and Larry from Larry's Veggies. These onions are named for the eponymous mountain where they were grown and harvested by the local Tohono O’odham Native Americans. Native Seeds S.E.A.R.C.H. says, “Botanical studies place the I’itoi onion among a very old line of clumping onions brought to the [United States] by Jesuit missionaries in the late 17th century, concluding that the onion is not necessarily a US native.” When grilled, they end up looking like a mess on the plate, but they are so incredibly sweet. If you can’t get I’itoi onions, you can use scallions.

When it comes to side dishes, it’s nice to be out of my rut. Don’t get me wrong - I still love rice and asparagus; I just might not be having them at every meal.

~ David

Creamy Mashed Chipotle Sweet Potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes, about 3 pounds
salt
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons puréed chipotle chiles in adobo
milk or cream, if needed


Peel and cut potatoes into approximately 1-inch cubes. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Add a couple of teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until very soft when pierced with a fork.

Drain the potatoes and add the sour cream, butter, and chipotle chiles. Mash - I use an immersion blender - until smooth and creamy. You may need to add a little cream or milk to get your preferred consistency. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, if desired. (Remember, when cooking starches, they absorb their salt while cooking, not after. That is why it is important to salt the water when boiling them, and it’s also why we salt the water when cooking pasta or rice.)

Serves 6.

Grilled I’itoi Onions
3 bunches I’itoi onions or scallions
olive oil
salt


Preheat your grill.

Cut off the root ends, and peel the papery skins off the onions; wash them thoroughly in cold running water. Drain, place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.

Grill the onions on low heat, turning often. The greens will burn, but the bulbs will soften and turn sweet.

Serves 6 as a garnish.




28 comments:

  1. What beautiful onions! I've been grabbing some that are similar at my Farmers market, too. And your pork recipe is new to me. Just checked it out and it's definitely going on my "to make ASAP" list. LOVE those flavors. Both of these sides sound delicious -- the heat from the peppers must be so perfect with the sweetness in the potato. YUM!

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    1. Thanks, Valentina! I love those onions and just bought more this morning! As for the pork, I realize that it was long enough ago that most people have not seen it! It’s wonderful, and so simple.

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  2. I'm in such a side dish rut it isn't funny. Boiled potatoes, cut in half and roasted until crisp. Sweet potato cut in half, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze and roasted until the edges are crisp and blackened. A boring leaf salad.

    I'm beginning to yawn.

    I want some I’itoi onions! I've never seen those here, but we do regularly see white, more bulbous varieties. I need to mix things up a bit!

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    1. Yep, your rut seems similar to my rut, John! It’s all good but the guests are getting bored. That said, I bought beautiful fresh purple asparagus today at the market but it will go in a salad!

      Maybe I can find some I’itoi onion seeds to send you. I will check at Native Seeds SEARCH this week.

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  3. For an inexplicable moment you took me back to my first visit to MC and my first very romantic meal at one of the restaurants in the Zona Rosa . . . lovely! Elegance, charm but wonderful food . . . I love deciding on sides and oft just make one special one . . . *smile* yours are perfect, but my eyes lit on my very favourite baby bok choi also . . .

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    1. Funny that you spied the book choi in the background! I used them in a stir fry last week!

      Eha - we have never been to Mexico City. It is on our must-do list!

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  4. David, a meal I'd love to have today for Cinco de Mayo, but it's not my day in the kitchen. But, I might just make it next week because it looks so darn good. I think I'm in that asparagus rut just now too. But we just started getting local asparagus about a week ago, so I think I'll be in the asparagus rut for a bit. Once you cook rice in a proper rice cooker, that stove top method just doesn't make sense any longer.
    The I’itoi onions sound amazing. We love grilled spring onions.

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    1. The funny thing, Ron, is that I had no plan at all for this to be a Cinco de Mayo post! Completely unintentional! Funny how life and blogs posts work. I think you should make it any time you want, and spring onions work beautifully!

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  5. I do recall this pork recipe and sweet potatoes seem on off the charts (and out of the rut) pairing. GREG

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    1. Thanks, Greg. I wonder if these will be my new rut!

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  6. Both the sweet potatoes and onions seem so refreshingly welcome...and good for us!

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    1. They are good for us, Susan! Well, ... ... if you don’t count the butter and sour cream!

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  7. Love your suggestion for I’itoi onions very much. Since I am not sure if I can purchase them over here it's great news one can use scallions. Thank you so much !

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    1. Scallions work perfectly, Davorka! I hope you enjoy them!

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  8. I LOVE chipotle mashed sweet potatoes! We make them sometimes for Thanksgiving. And more often as a bed for Indian food -- particularly a meat dish with a rich gravy. That can be a sensational pairing. Anyway, yours looks excellent. Love the grilled onions, too. Fun post -- thanks.

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    1. Thanks, John - I love the idea of pairing the potatoes with Indian food - we will have to give that a try!

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  9. What a very interesting twice, with the chipotle puree. I bet your recipe tastes amazing and I like the fact you used scallions as full fledged vegetables, which we rarely do sadly :)

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    1. Thanks, Romain. I really love the grilled onions as a side. They are so sweet.

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  10. Oh yum! The chipotle sweet potatoes sound wonderful! Love the spicy sweet combo!

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    1. It works well, Kelly. And has a distinctive Southwestern feel.

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  11. David, this is just the kick in the pants I needed to get out of my own side dish rut! And I do love sweet potatoes (my rut with them is oven roasted slices), so thank you! ----- PS I saw a car the other day with an anti-garlic license plate and thought of you!

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    1. Now THAT is a vanity license plate I would love, Jean! I didn’t like sweet potatoes as a kid because people kept adding sugar - I discovered as an adult that making them savory is what I love most.

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  12. A great switch-up David. And proves sweet potatoes aren't just for holiday season anymore! But asparagus in spring--no one could blame you for being in that rut.

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    1. And I went and bought more asparagus today, Inger! There is no denying it in the spring.

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  13. what fascinating little onions! they look like a mix of spring onions (scallions?) and french shallots! cheers sherry

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    1. That is the perfect description of them, Sherry!

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  14. You've probably noticed I'm catching up! I was in Europe for 2 weeks then home for 2 days and off to Philly for my daughter's graduation from uni! Just a warning, I'm gone the entire month of June, too! That said, this is a great way to change up your rice and side dish, David! Super nutritious, too!

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    1. Your trip looked absolutely wonderful, Christena! I love traveling “with you.“

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