Side Dishes and Quick Meals

A beloved pasta classic of Sausage and Broccoli gets a flavor boost when using a complimentary sausage made with broccoli rabe.

Lunchtime bagels travel around the world at Cafe Drake HRV: toasted whole wheat bagels with olive oil, homemade hummus, cherry tomatoes, Moroccan cured olives, salad and the BEST harissa ever. Make this spicy North African condiment (and common tagine recipe ingredient) at home and you'll never shell out for the canned stuff again: Soak 12 dried red chile peppers in boiled water for 30 minutes. You can use any type but a variety yields more complex flavor. Cafe Drake HRV mixes Indian whole dried red chilies with dried ancho and arbol chilies. After 30 minutes, reserve the soaking water, seed the chilies and add to a blender or processor. Now add to the blender 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 t. salt and 2 T. olive oil. Blend for about 30 seconds and throw in 1 t. ground coriander, 1 t. caraway seeds and 1/2 t. ground cumin. If you have trouble, add a teaspoon or two of the chile soaking water to facilitate the process. Blend again, until smooth. Topped with just the thinnest layer of olive oil, the harissa will keep refrigerated for a month or longer. Obviously amazing with hummus, falafel, pita chips etc, Cafe Drake HRV craves it with scrambled eggs, a lesson learned from Williamsburg's brunch heaven, Cafe Mogador.

Cafe Drake HRV has been serving vegetable purees the last two decades, but this recently created version is a knockout. Although the taste profile is decidedly East Asian, this healthy, unique side dish partners well with meals of all stripes. Begin with a deep skillet and in about 2 T. vegetable oil (we use grapeseed) brown 1 chopped onion until soft and golden. Add 1 peeled and diced carrot, 1 peeled and diced small new potato and 1 peeled and diced medium-sized turnip. Be sure to chop the vegetables into very small pieces. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding: 1 T. grated ginger (or a lesser amount of powdered), 1 chopped clove of garlic and 1 chopped jalapeno pepper. Stir and add in 1 box/block of frozen spinach. Pour in 1/2 cup water, sprinkle liberally with ground cumin and ground coriander (optional), cover skillet and simmer for 20 minutes or until root veggies are very soft. Add water if needed in small amounts only. Transfer skillet contents to a blender and process until velvety smooth. Return to skillet, season with salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Reheat thoroughly with a couple of pats of butter stirred into the puree (optional). Top with cilantro if you like. Serve hot.

Decent flavor and texture in cherry tomatoes are reliable even in late winter. Sliced in half and tossed with minced garlic, snipped dill, olive oil and good salt, they're irresistible with broiled chicken or lounging atop crostini.

Grated apple ready for raita
This apple raita takes about 5 minutes to make but let rest at least 30 minutes before serving so all flavors meld. Start with 1 firm, crisp apple; Granny Smith or Honey Crisp are ideal choices. Peel, core and grate the apple using the largest holes on the hand grater. Toss with a spritz of lemon juice and add to a small mixing bowl. Stir in gently: 1 cup of plain yogurt (whole milk or Greek yogurt is preferable but low-fat will suffice), 1 t. grated ginger, 1/2 t. ground cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper and 2 finely minced, small green chilies. Season to taste with salt (about 1/2 t.) and sugar (about 1-2 t.) Excellent with all spicy meals and rich, roasted entrees. Try it as a garnish/side dish with burgers and fries!

Roast chicken quarter with sweet potatoes, grilled bread and apple raita.


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