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The Sides of March
By Nancy Eisman

While Thanksgiving is the classic example of eating the sides and skipping the entrée, making a meal out of side dishes is now a daily occurrence. When eating out, whether in a restaurant, attending an event, or at the home of friends, people who eat plant-based often make a meal out of side dishes.

Some restaurants are set up for diners to go through a line and pick side-size portions of a variety of dishes. Other restaurants are expanding their sides selections, which are usually very plant-based friendly to start with, because their customers like the option of being served their own personally designed combo plate.

Simple preparations are fine, and filling too, but sometimes you want to create something a bit more interesting and complex. Today I’m presenting two hearty recipes that each feature an extra plant-based hack that you’ll want to make and use for many other dishes.

Coconut “bacon” kicks up the crunch and smoky factor in oven roasted Brussels sprouts, and roasted fingerling potatoes get some Mediterranean pizzazz with easy, umami-filled pine nut “Parmesan”.

Prepare and eat these two dishes side-by-side, or enjoy separately, or alongside whatever you like.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Coconut Bakin

Coconut Bakin:

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
½ tablespoon liquid smoke
½ tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 package dried coconut chips
Sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl combine the tamari/soy, liquid smoke, maple syrup and smoked paprika. Whisk together. Add the dried coconut flakes and stir to coat.

Spread the mixture over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned, stirring 2-3 times during baking. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)

Olive oil for the pan and for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil.

After washing and trimming the sprouts, cut in half, and arrange cut side down on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes until sprouts blacken a bit around the edges. Toss the sprouts with the coconut bakin, and dried cranberries if desired, and bake an additional 2 minutes.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Pine Nut Parmesan

Pine Nut Parmesan:

1 cup pine nuts
¼ cup nutritional yeast*
½ teaspoon minced garlic
Pinch of lemon zest
1 teaspoon sea salt

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until it’s the consistency of grated Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes:

1 package fingerling potatoes
Olive oil for the pan and for drizzling.
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram or oregano leaves
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil.

Wash the potatoes and cut in half or quarters depending on size. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Toss in the garlic, marjoram and parsley, and then drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil, and season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Roast for 20 minutes, sprinkle on the pine nut Parmesan, and roast another 2 minutes.