Choosing SidesFrom Holidays to Every Day, 130 Delicious Recipes to Make the Meal

Choosing Sides, a cookbook devoted entirely to side dishes, honors the standards and offers fresh ideas for new favorites.

Choosing Sides, a cookbook devoted entirely to side dishes, honors the standards and offers fresh ideas for new favorites. It capitalizes on our obsession with accessorizing meals using quality ingredients in inspired, varied, and memorable recipes. Every recipe offers multiple entrée suggestions and helps cooks design an entire meal. Instead of tagging bland afterthoughts on your plate at the last minute, you can create exciting combinations.


The chapters offer a range of recipes for broad appeal, crossing cuisines, techniques, and complexity. You’ll find recipes for breakfast, intimate gatherings, picnics, holidays, and more. Coconut Cilantro Toasted Israeli Couscous, Pumpkin Cozy Rolls, Honey Balsamic Peaches and Burrata, and Sesame Braised Bok Choy are just a few. A helpful chart, organized by main entrée, gives you a quick look at what to serve with chicken, beef, fish, and the like. Choosing Sides is a singular source for answering the mealtime question, “What should I serve with this?”

Tara Mataraza Desmond writes about food, cooking, and nutritious eating. She has developed original recipes and contributed to media and corporations including Parents magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Specialty Publications,Clean Eating magazine, Whole Foods Market, and the Food Network Kitchens and television productions. She is the coauthor of Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet. Mataraza Desmond blogs at and stays social on Twitter and Facebook at @TaraMDesmond. For more information visit 

“Here’s a cookbook you’ll pull from the shelf every time you ask yourself, ‘What should I serve with this?’ Tara Mataraza Desmond has written an inspired and creative cookbook dedicated entirely to side dishes. Accessorizing the main element of the meal, whether for a weeknight dinner, family get-together, or holiday feast, needs to be artful, nourishing, and practical. Choosing Sides brings excitement to every meal with these innovative and contemporary side dishes.”
––Diane Morgan, author of Roots: The Definitive Compendium



“This is an extraordinary collection, able to turn anyone who can roast a chicken or grill a lamb chop into a top chef. Nobody needs another recipe for meatloaf, but accompany your old standby with the likes of Smoked Gouda Grits and Red Grape and Bacon Salad (easy to throw together while the meatloaf is in the oven), and I guarantee your best friend’s other best friends will cringe with jealousy.”
––Andrew Schloss, author of Art of the Slow Cooker and Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More



“Oh, to be an entrée surrounded by Tara Mataraza Desmond’s flavorful, colorful, vibrant sides! In Choosing Sides, Tara offers a modern spin on the humble, oft-neglected accompaniment. Her Chorizo Chard; Blood Orange Wild Rice; and Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad are but three examples for how to turn supporting players into shining culinary stars. Tara can fill my plate any day.”
––Cheryl Sternman Rule, author of Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables


Pumpkin Cozy Rolls

Browned Brussels with Maple Butter




Pumpkin Cozy Rolls



Makes 1 dozen


A dozen big, soft, buttery rolls bake together into a snug crown fit for the center of a holiday table. Pumpkin lends its hue, plus sweetness and moisture, to the crumb, which is redolent with the squash’s favorite spices. The lengthy rise time is a trademark for the rich brioche family of bread, but the investment guarantees a very special addition to the menu. You’ll have to decide whether to unveil the rolls at the dinner table or at breakfast, warmed, spread with butter, and drizzled with maple syrup.


3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 cup pumpkin puree at room temperature

¼ cup buttermilk at room temperature

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 large eggs at room temperature, plus

1 large egg for egg wash

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes, at room temperature, plus 1 or 2 teaspoons for the pan


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and yeast. Add the pumpkin, buttermilk, and maple syrup and mix on medium-low speed (2 on a KitchenAid mixer) until a lumpy, floury mixture begins to form. Stop the machine and scrape the flour that builds up to the sides into the damp mix below it. Start the mixer again at the same speed and mix for about a minute.


Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix at medium speed (4 on a KitchenAid) after each addition. Continue mixing for about 3 minutes, until the eggs are completely incorporated, making the dough and the sides of the bowl less visibly wet than when the eggs were first added.


With the mixer running on medium-high (setting 5), add the butter cubes 2 or 3 at a time, pausing to let them blend into the dough until barely visible before adding more. It will take about 5 minutes to work in all the butter. Don’t rush it.


Now let the mixer knead the dough on medium-high speed for a full 10 minutes. The dough will be very tacky at first, sticking to the walls and bottom of the bowl as it slaps against it for the first 7 or 8 minutes. Toward the end of kneading, the bottom and sides of the bowl will be mostly clear of the dough, which will work up into a mass stretched between the hook and the bottom of the bowl.


Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Scrape the dough into the pan, pulling it down off the hook and using a big rubber spatula to release it from the bowl.


The dough will feel soft and buttery and will look like shiny, stretchy taffy when it’s being pulled on the machine in a beach boardwalk storefront. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours, until doubled in size.


Push the dough out of the pan and onto a very lightly floured surface. Knead it lightly 5 or 6 times to work some of the air out of it and then let it rest for 15 minutes. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 3 ounces each, if using a scale). Rebutter the springform pan.


Push each piece of dough into a small round boule by shaping it as follows. Make a tight C shape with one of your hands so that only about ½ inch of space remains open between your index finger and your thumb and so your palm curves slightly into a cupped shape behind the outline of the C. Stuff one of the 12 pieces of dough through the middle of the C shape and into the palm of your hand behind it. Now, using all of the fingers of your free hand, push the dough back up through the “C” to create a smooth, round roll shape. Open your hand and pinch the bottom of the dough boule to close up the space where your fingers pushed upward. Put the boules into the springform as you finish them, repeating the process with all 12 pieces of dough.


Situate the rolls inside the springform so they fit snuggly next to one another. Start by setting 3 in the center and then arrange the remaining 9 around them along the perimeter of the pan. Cover the pan with the plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 12). After the refrigerator rise, let the rolls rest, still covered, at warm room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The rolls will puff up just slightly. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.


Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush the egg wash across the tops of the rolls. Set the springform pan on a baking pan and transfer to the oven. Bake the rolls for 40 minutes, until the tops are dark brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 190° to 200°F when inserted into the center of a roll.


Let the bread cool in the pan to just warm, about 30 minutes. Release the springform and then separate the rolls by cutting them with a serrated knife along the visible dividing lines.


Serve immediately.


Tip: Make the rolls 1 or 2 days in advance, cool completely, and reheat, covered with foil, in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.


Tip: KitchenAid stand mixer users will note that once the machine is set to a speed of 5 or more, it will shimmy and shake . . . and move across the countertop as it works. Take care not to wander too far away and keep an eye on it if you are busy with other tasks during the kneading step, or you’ll be reminded when it crashes to the floor!



Browned Brussels with Maple Butter



Serves 4 to 6


Some people are evangelical about their favorite foods, determined to sway skeptics to their way of thinking and tasting. I’m this way about Brussels sprouts. If any preparation of these cruciferous bulbs is going to spur converts, it’s this one. The maple butter is reminiscent of caramel, creating a sweet cloak over savory sprouts that become deeply browned and crisp wherever their surfaces meet the hot pan. The maple butter can be made a day ahead, cooled completely, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature while the sprouts roast and then scrape it into the hot sprouts to melt it.


1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stem ends trimmed, outer leaves peeled, and halved (quartered if large)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on a baking sheet and transfer it to the hot oven for 5 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, toss the sprouts with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the salt and pepper. Pour the sprouts out onto the hot baking sheet and spread into a single layer. (Take the time to place each sprout cut side down for especially crisped and browned sprouts.)


Roast the Brussels sprouts for 15 to 20 minutes, until fork-tender and a dark brown crust forms on the sides exposed to the baking sheet.


While the sprouts roast, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling it around as it becomes liquid. Keep a close eye on the butter as it starts to foam. If you look closely at the liquid butter as it cooks, you can see tiny specks of brown appear (which are the browning milk solids). Continue heating it until it starts to smell nutty and turns from off-white to golden to light brown. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup. Stir briskly as the mixture sizzles and spurts. Set aside in the saucepan until the Brussels finish roasting.


Remove the Brussels from the oven and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle the maple butter all over, tossing to coat evenly. Serve immediately.



Bacon-crusted Roast Turkey

Apple, Pear, and Sage-stuffed Pork Loin Roulade

Slow-cooked Chicken and Cippoline

Herb-stuffed Leg of Lamb

Butternut Ricotta Lasagna


-From Choosing Sides: From Holidays to Every Day, 130 Delicious Recipes to Make the Meal by Tara Mataraza Desmond/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC


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