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Our Guide to Easy Fall Side Dishes

Surely everybody has a 'go-to' side dish or an appetizer that can be practically prepared with one's eyes closed. I have a friend who makes a scrumptious cashew cheese that is devoured within minutes of her guests' arrival. (There is a long line of us waiting for the opportunity to buy this on a regular basis.) In the past, my 'go-to' in a pinch was whipping up my grandmother's crab rangoon dip. Honestly, this recipe is such a cinch. The dish calls for cream cheese, a dash of Worcestershire, sour cream, and your favorite shredded cheese for the topping, although we use nuts instead. Serve with a side of crudité and a variety of your favorite crackers, and I promise your guests will be asking for more.



In all honesty, I used to patiently wait for each holiday to roll around, so I could indulge in this dip. Little did I know, it wasn't just my grandmother's 'famous recipe', but it could be found in the Better Homes & Gardens Traditional Cookbook. That's right, the book that has been present in a majority of housewives' kitchens for the better part of a century! This book was THE go-to book at the time it was released in 1930. It has been said that there had never been a cookbook like it before, as over a million copies were sold by 1938 alone. Fortunately for us in 2020, a quick click of the mouse, a Google search, and voilà! The recipe can be found here: https://www.bhg.com/recipe/crab-rangoon-dip/



While appetizers are not necessarily my forte, side salads are. You might recall a blog post from July that highlighted our favorite summer salads. Watermelon and sweet corn played a big part. You also might recall that a few weekends back we stocked up on an array of fall fruits, such as apples, pomegranates, and citrus. We hosted some friends for dinner in our home last Saturday and served those very apples and pomegranates in a Brussels sprouts salad. It was an instant hit. Time and time again, this dish never gets old. There is something about the crunch in the apple, the tartness in the pomegranate, and the bite in the apple cider vinegar that gets us each time. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the full recipe).



Another favorite, and a new one, is our fall citrus salad. When serving a heavy main course, such as the butternut squash risotto (featured in last week's blog post that can be found here https://www.backcountrymercantile.com/post/autumnal-delights), this salad served as a light and refreshing balance. The colors could not scream 'autumn' more. Top this salad with seasoned arugula, and violà! You now have your second side dish in a pinch. Alternatively, this dish could also be served as a healthy dessert. A bonus of stocking up on so much citrus in advance is that it adds a nice splash of color while displaying on the countertop. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the full recipe).



Because it is not November yet, we are saving the sharing of our famous potato purée and chestnut stuffing for a few more weeks. However, we do have a few more side dish recipes that we'd like you to see. The vegetables here still remain the main focus. Our garlic 'smashed potatoes' that were featured in a previous blog post, are a perfect compliment to any main dish. You can find the recipe here: https://www.backcountrymercantile.com/post/winner-winner-chicken-dinner. Sea salt and extra virgin olive oil are your best friends while preparing them. Surely, the same can be said for the 'simply roasted' butternut squash, the mushroom medley, and the leeks. Charred broccoli and cauliflower need no more than a pinch of that same sea salt and a dash of EVOO. As if brussels sprouts one way wasn't enough, we prepared them 'simply sauteed' as well.



If you are able to purchase butternut squash already spiraled into the shape of spaghetti, then go for it! (This vegetable is usually a win with the children.) Otherwise, if you are brave enough to make your own, we shared a video on how to cut the butternut squash in our last blog post, which can also be found here: https://www.backcountrymercantile.com/post/autumnal-delights. The below link takes you to a suggested safe mandoline for spiraling the squash. It allows you to hold the device in an upright position, so you don't chance losing a finger! https://www.qvc.com/Geoffrey-Zakarian-Safe-Slice-Upright-Mandoline.product.K48986.html This mandolin is so safe that even the children can use it. Another popular version of the butternut squash with the children is preparing them as 'fries'. The versatality of the mandolin offers a zig-zag cut for preparing 'fries'.


Placing a bit of green garnish atop your vegetables can add interest to each dish. Parsley on the potatoes, sage on the butternut squash, and even pistachios on top of the Brussels sprouts salad add delightful decorations.



The trend is quite clear. While we love to indulge in a simply roasted butternut squash, our garlic 'smashed potatoes', and a seasonal risotto, we do love the balance of healthy sides to accompany such rich and heavy dishes. Nothing is worse than allowing your guests to leave the dinner table feeling overly full. Finding a balance is key, and then your guests won't be afraid to take second (or third) helpings.


Fall Brussels Sprouts Salad


Serves 4-6 people


Ingredients:


1 lb. Brussels Sprouts

1 Red Delicious Apple

1/4 C of Pine Nuts

Seeds from 1/2 Pomegranate

1/2 C of Grated Parmesan

Chives