If you are used to doing the same sides each time you cook a roast dinner, this August bank holiday weekend why not switch to something new? Just right for the time of year and featuring seasonal veg, these dishes have a comforting feel but are a bit lighter and offer fresh inspiration for accompaniments to go with your meat, veggie or vegan centrepiece.
A creamy beetroot gratin is an incredibly moreish side dish. It’s quick to get in the oven and ends up a magnificent deep purple. Delicious with roast beef or smoked fish, for more of a kick you can add a teaspoon of grated or creamed horseradish with the cream and garlic.
Baked kohlrabi with almond and parsley crust is good with pork chops, or try on its own with some roasted carrots or beetroot for a vegetarian main course (swap Parmesan for a vegan alternative). You could substitute or supplement the kohlrabi with other summer roots such as beetroot, turnips or carrots, or mix in a handful or shredded greens before baking.
Honey and thyme scented caramelised potatoes are another wonderful side, with a glossy golden sheen. In Denmark they are traditionally eaten with roast pork or duck, and sometimes with pork sausages. The potatoes are quite sweet so try to have some sour elements on the plate as well as plenty of salt on the table.
This new potato, spinach and Gruyère bake is really easy to make and pairs well with a robust green salad alongside your main dish. Especially good with roast chicken or ham, it is flexible too – if you don’t have any Gruyère substitute in any other cheese for a slightly different taste. Chard is a good stand-in for spinach if that’s what you have to hand, but be doubly sure to remove the tough stalks.
If you have never cooked a lettuce, now is the time to give it a go. Little Gem lettuces are great chargrilled – halve or quarter them depending on the size, brush lightly with oil, season with salt and pepper and place on a hot griddle pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning frequently until tender. It will depend on the heat so use your judgement. The lettuce should be lightly coloured and half wilted, with black charred stripes and so tasty you will want to eat them straight from the pan.
As they are a miniature, crisper and sweeter version of Cos, Little Gems also retain a bit of crunch when braised. Minted braised Little Gems have an almost nutty flavour and are especially good served with lamb. You can also throw a handful of frozen peas or broad beans in at the last minute to add in extra green goodness.