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Sweet sides for your holiday table

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I have to admit that I spend as much time pondering the possibilities for side dishes as I do for my main course. The main course always takes centre stage, but I find that my plate and that of many of my guests as well, is heaped high with vegetables these days, with the meat or fowl taking a proportionately smaller space. So vegetables and salads have to be well thought out. At Rosh Hashanah this is easy enough to do, since a spoonful or two of honey makes even the most beautiful of vegetables taste better. Read on and you’ll easily find out for yourself.

Honey and balsamic glazed shallots and garlic

Don’t let the colour of this dish fool you. The shallots and garlic are smoothly sweet, not only because of the honey in the sauce, but also because of their inherent sweetness after being cooked for 30 minutes.

o 1 tbsp. olive oil

o 1 lb. shallots, peeled

o 1 large head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

o 3/4 cup chicken stock

o 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

o 1/2 cup honey

o 4 fresh thyme sprigs

o 1/2 tsp. salt

o 1/4 tsp pepper

o 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic cloves. Cook, stirring, until both are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock, vinegar, honey, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Uncover and simmer until the shallots and garlic are soft and tender, about 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the shallots and garlic to a serving bowl. Boil the remaining liquid until thick and glaze-like, about 5 more minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Pour the syrup over the shallots and garlic. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley just before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Carrot salad

Carrot salads were introduced to Israel by the Moroccans some 70 years ago, and they have become a popular Rosh Hashanah side dish. Although they were almost always made with cooked carrots, as the years went by, raw carrots became popular as well. I have chosen to use raw carrots for this particular salad for ease and time efficiency. The really wonderful thing about this particular salad, aside from its taste of course, is the fact that it goes together so easily. It also benefits from making it ahead, which allows the flavours to meld. For a bolder taste, stir in a dash of harissa.

o I lb. carrots, grated (about 3 large carrots, 4 cups)

o 3 cloves garlic, minced

o 1/4 cup each chopped fresh coriander and chopped fresh mint

o 1/4 cup each extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice

o 1 tbsp. honey

o 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

o pinch each cinnamon and salt

o 1/3 cup golden raisins

Place the grated carrots in a serving bowl. Add garlic, coriander, mint, oil, lemon juice, honey, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Toss gently until the carrots are well coated. Stir in the raisins.

This salad is best if made at least 1 day ahead to allow the flavours to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Grilled cauliflower with orange vinaigrette

I know that grilled or roasted cauliflower is all the rage these days, served as it usually is with tahini and pomegranate seeds. In this recipe, I’ve replaced the ubiquitous tahini with an orange-flavoured vinaigrette, sweet and bold enough to pair beautifully with the grilled cauliflower. Use a sharp knife when cutting the cauliflower or you’ll end up with cauliflower bits instead of large slices.

o 1  head cauliflower

o 2 large garlic cloves, sliced

o 1/2 tsp. salt

o 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

o 1 tbsp. honey

Vinaigrette:

o 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

o 2 tbsp. orange marmalade

o 1 tbsp. honey

o pinch each salt and pepper

o 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

With a sharp chef’s knife, remove the stem of the cauliflower to allow the head to sit flat on your work surface. Cut the cauliflower into ½-inch thick slices. Place them in a single layer on one or two rimmed baking sheets.

Using a mortar and pestle or simply the back of a spoon, mash the garlic and the salt together until a paste is formed. Stir in the olive oil and honey. Brush the olive oil mixture over the cauliflower slices. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a 1-cup wet measure, whisk together the vinegar, marmalade, honey, salt and pepper. Gradually, in a thin stream, whisk in the olive oil until completely emulsified.

Grill the cauliflower slices on a preheated grill over medium-high heat, carefully turning once using a spatula, until golden and soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Using a spatula again, remove the cauliflower slices from the grill onto a serving platter. I like to heap the slices on top of each other in a random pattern for a different kind of presentation. Drizzle the vinaigrette over. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

READ: UNUSUAL SIDE DISHES CAN BE MAGICAL