There are some things in life you can’t do without. For the busy woman, a smartphone that doesn’t erratically hang up on your calls mid-sentence, embarrassing you and annoying your clients (yes, Palm, I’m talking to you). For the busy woman who cooks, side dishes that are easy to make, store well, and accompanies you in everything (like any man with his pet; at least ours feeds you).
Two things I like to make, and who accompany each other like Simon & Garfunkel, are roasted garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The former stores well and can be used as a side dish or a base for an altogether spectacular casserole, the latter is delicious in itself.
Certain condiments and sides are fallible (like a recent batch of pesto I made that surprisingly failed on all taste counts, the only words I can think of to describe it being greasy & lumpy), but not these two. They’re like all the times when pop music annoys you and a good ’ol Simon & Garfunkel tune is all you need to enjoy a blissful night.
(adapted heart & soul from elise.com)
A large bunch of fresh spinach
3 – 4 strips chopped bacon
2 cloves garlic (I like mine garlicky)
1 medium yellow onion
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
Cut off the thick stems of the spinach, trim the leaves to a desirable length, and blanch for about 2 minutes in boiling water. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.
Sauté the chopped bacon in some oil till the fat is abit melted; add onions and sauté till they are translucent and set aside.
This mixture is called a béchamel sauce, and quite a staple in French cooking and the base of most sauces. Melt better in a pan over low heat. Slowly add the flour whilst stirring, till you get a smooth paste. Slowly add milk until a smooth, thick sauce forms.
Add the bacon, onions and spinach to the sauce, and season with salt & pepper and nutmeg. Once properly cooked, remove from heat.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
(adjust portions to preference)
1 garlic head
5 russet potatoes, skinned
1 tbsp butter
1 cup Milk
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp Cajun powder
2 tbsp Italian herbs
Cut off one end of a head of garlic. Rub olive oil onto it, and place on a dish. Cover the head with aluminium foil, and bake at 200°C for about 30 minutes till roasted.
Remove skins of potatoes and boil till soft. When done, remove and begin mashing the potatoes with a fork. Add butter and milk and mash till the potatoes are of a desired consistency.
Remove the garlic and mash with a pestle & mortar. Sprinkle salt in while doing so. Combine the garlic, potatoes, herbs and Cajun powder. Adjust portions as preferred and serve as you like.