In need of a side dish.
I was going to suggest roasted brussel sprouts too... or sauteed broccolini w/ garlice, olive oil and shredded romano cheese. Roasted green beans tossed in a little balsamic w/ shredded romano are really tasty too. Bacon would compliment any of these veggies nicely. I think the broccolini would be best because you can prepare it on the stove top while the gratin is in the oven. AND it would have the crunch/snap that you're looking for.
Brussels Sprouts would be great. I recently made a really exciting version modeled after the phenomenal Sprouts served at ilili Mediterranean/Lebanese restaurant in NYC. They have amazing crunch from walnuts, sweetness from a fig puree drizzle and grapes, and finally a bright, rich quality from a minted yogurt. Here is the recipe but for photos (it's quite aesthetically pleasing too), check out my blog, Neurotic Kitchen and click on the post dated Sunday, October 14, 2012 titled ilili Brussels Sprouts
ilili Brussels Sprouts
Lightly Adapted from ilili Restaurant, NYC
Serves 2-3 as a side dish
1 lb Brussels Sprouts
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Mint Yogurt, Recipe Follows*
Fig Puree, Recipe Follows*
4 Tablespoon Toasted Walnuts, slightly crumbled.
6 - 8 Tablespoons Seedless Red Grapes sliced into halves or thirds.
1/2 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar or to taste
Equipment - a baking sheet with sides or shallow roasting pan and 2 one gallon ZipLoc bags
Yields enough for 1 batch serving 2-3
Can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature or warm slightly before using.
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Fig jam
Method - Combine Jam and Water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cook, gently boiling, for another 2-3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens and is reduced by half. Remove from the heat and strain out and discard any solids. Alternatively, you can puree the mixture in a mini blender. Set aside.
Yields enough for 1 batch serving 2-3 plus extra.Can be prepared several hours ahead and refrigerated.
3/4 Cup (6 Oz) Plain Low Fat Yogurt - Emmi Swiss has great consistency and flavor
1 Tablespoon Water
3 Heaping Tbsp Mint, very finely minced
1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon Salt*
Method - Combine Yogurt, Mint, and Water. Stir to incorporate. Next, start by stirring in a 1/4 teaspoon of Salt first and taste.* If you choose to add another 1/4 teaspoon Salt, you may find the Yogurt very salty. In the end, when all flavors are combined, the extra saltiness becomes very balanced, but I have a salty palate so use your discretion! You can always add more Salt later if you prefer.
*Overall Preparation Method:
Place your oven rack in the upper middle position and preheat oven to 500.
Clean and fully dry Sprouts. Remove some of the loose, outer leaves, especially the smaller yellow ones, and trim the woody Sprout base just enough to shorten it without cutting it so high that you sever the part that holds all the sprout leaves together. Pour Sprouts into a gallon ZipLoc bag and add a Tablespoon of Olive oil. Seal the bag and give it a good few shakes and squish it around with your hands so that Oil is distributed evenly. Next, spread Sprouts out evenly on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
*If you haven't already prepared your Mint Yogurt or Fig Puree, now is the time, while your Sprouts are cooking. Both sauces come together fast!
Cook Sprouts for about 18 minutes, shaking the pan twice or more throughout the cooking process to turn the Sprouts and cook them evenly. If you like your Sprouts more well done and less al dente, cook for up to 20 minutes - you can feel free to remove a few extra-browned leaves that may result once you are done and Sprouts have cooled slightly. Instructions for that follow.
When cooking is done, the Brussels Sprouts will emerge partially browned and crispy on the outside but the first interior leaves should be green and the Sprout itself should be tender but not mushy. Even if they look very browned to you, don't worry - it will all taste great in the end. If there are some overly browned parts that seem too burnt/bitter, feel free to let Sprouts cool a bit and peel just a few of the darker leaves off and discard. When in doubt, taste!
Let Sprouts cook slightly and place in another ZipLoc bag or bowl. Pour in half a teaspoon of Sherry Vinegar, seal, and give the bag a good shake. Sprinkle ever so slightly with Salt if you choose.
Plate your Sprouts in one serving bowl, alternating layers of Sprouts, Grapes, and Walnuts.
Next, the two sauces should be drizzled over everything in a crosshatch pattern. You should use about 4 Tablespoons of the Fig Puree and 4-5 Tablespoons of the Mint Yogurt. Do not over-sauce, you can always serve the extra Fig Puree and Yogurt on the side. Optionally garnish with Mint Sprigs or a sprinkling of Chopped Mint if you choose.
In the words of Ilili Restaurant/ The Recipe Author - "You’ll know you’ve perfected the seasoning when you get the perfect bite - a balance between bitter, salty, sweet, and sour and the umami."
This does not have meat, but is very delicious!
2 large acorn squash, about 1.5 to 2 lbs, halved, seeded and baked for 45 min @ 350F
4 large golden delicious, granny smith or other firm apple, peeled, seeded, cored, cut in 1/8ths
8T (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped coarsely
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup brown sugar
s&p to taste
1/4 cup white sugar
Saute peeled, sliced apples in 3T butter in large frying pan with 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon till soft. Set aside.
Scoop out cooked flesh from acorn squash, mash with 2T butter, s&p. Spoon into greased 9X9 in pan. Top with apple mixture.
Combine cornflake crumbs with remaining butter (melted), brown sugar, toasted chopped nuts. Sprinkle over squash/apple mixture. Bake at 350F for 40-45 min till crunchy on top. May be frozen.