Sunday, August 26, 2012

Easy Side Dishes to Serve with Roast Chicken


     Pasta tossed with olive oil and parsley, steamed potatoes, couscous, polenta, a baguette...just about any starch you can think of goes with roast chicken. In my book, it's even better if you tart up the starch component so you get your vegetables at the same time. 
     You can take the parsley approach or mix chopped fresh tomatoes and torn basil leaves into pasta instead. Potatoes taste much better (and look far prettier) sprinkled with scissored chives. Couscous becomes tabbouleh when you add handfuls of red or green pepper, cucumber, tomato, mint, and cartloads of parsley, all chopped. Polenta is lovely when you throw in fine snippings of rosemary and/or shredded sun-dried tomatoes as you cook it.   

 All these additions work with rice too but what I've been making a lot over the past incredibly hot month is rice salad. I can't give you a firm recipe because it's never the same twice, depending on what I've got in the fridge.
    Once the rice was cooked, today's chicken-accompanying version began with the bird's juices, which I degreased first. Then I sloshed in some olive oil. As soon as the rice had cooled to room temp, in went chopped red pepper, red onion, parsley and--the secret ingredient--finely chopped preserved lemon, which adds a deliciously citric edge to the dish.
   Last Friday I bought a kilo of haricots verts at Lavelanet market for all of two euros. One handful per person, topped and tailed (scissors are the swiftest way to go about this), went into a pan of boiling water for five minutes. While they were cooking, I fried a finely chopped large clove of garlic in about three tablespoons of olive oil, just until it turned golden. Beans drained and put in a dish, garlic-y oil poured over. Done. Nice cold too and keeps for several days in the fridge, as does the rice salad, so make lots.
    Vinaigrette-d lettuce leaves. Tomatoes from the garden, still warm when we ate them. Bread (not a baguette but the rustic couronne with holes the size of centimes that we buy at the market). Cold rosé from Provence.
    And suddenly it was four in the afternoon.

1 comment:

Jeannie Schnakenberg said...

I just finished your delicious book, "Hot Sun, Cool Shadows" and now have discovered your blog. We are home exchangers from Mexico (retired Americans) currently in Scotland on a home exchange but on our way Sunday to Magrie, Languedoc. Your book spoke to me and I am so looking forward to our coming 3 weeks there. We love to eat and cook. Sounds like your area is the place to do both and more. Thank you for your wonderful book and blog.