Vegetable Side Dishes for Easter

An Ample Bites fan asked for some suggestions for vegetable side dishes for Easter dinner this Sunday. Below are recipes for a few of my favorites. All of these dishes go very well with ham and lamb.

Asparagus and Cheese Tart
(Courtesy of April 2012, Food Network Magazine)

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 1/2 pound)
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 cup grated fontina cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 cup grated comte of gruyere cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 Tbsp minced shallot
2 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp whole milk
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring about 1 inch of water to boil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus; cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Drain and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking; drain and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Roll out the puff pastry into a 10-by-16-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, mix the cheeses, shallot, egg yolks, milk, nutmeg and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the asparagus on the tart and bake until the cheese mixture is slightly puffy, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Red Onion

2 pounds of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F

Line a baking sheet with oil. In a large bowl, toss sprouts, onion, oil, sugar and seasonings. Spread the sprouts in the baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, toss well and serve immediately.

Balsamic-Glazed Green Beans

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Cook beans and cranberries in simmering water in a skillet for 4 to 5 minutes until tender crisp. Drain and pat green beans dry. Immediately heat oil in skillet and add the onions and sugar, cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add the beans and cranberries and stir for about 3 minutes, until heated through. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook one additional minute. Garnish with the slivered almonds and serve.

Scalloped Potatoes with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers
(Courtesy of April 2012, Food Network Magazine)

2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8 inch thick and patted dry
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
4 plum tomatoes, sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 yellow and orange bell peppers, cut into 3/4 inch strips
1 onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
3 tsp herbes de Provence
1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs (preferably fresh)

Whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the remaining 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream in a medium saucepan; stir in the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the garlic and bay leaves and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the potatoes and simmer until halfway cooked, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in the egg-milk mixture and 1 cup gruyere. Cover and keep warm.

Preheat the broiler. Put the tomatoes, bell peppers and onion on a baking sheet in separate piles. Drizzle each pile with 2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss each pile to coat and spread them out. Broil until tender and charred around the edges, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with olive oil. Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) in the dish. Spoon out half of the potatoes and arrange evenly over the breadcrumbs; top with the broiled onions and half each of the tomatoes and peppers. Top with the remaining potatoes in an even layer and all of the cream mixture; discard the garlic and bay leaves. Top with the remaining tomatoes and bell peppers.

Bake until the potatoes are tender and lightly golden, about 40 to 50 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 cup cream and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup gruyere. Continue baking until the cheese melts, about 5 more minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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