• Tommy Centola

Side dishes for indoor, outdoor

Last time, I presented some pie recipes for outdoor gatherings. Along the same vein, I thought about side dishes that would be a great addition to a meal either indoors or outdoors. Thumbing through my recipes, I found a couple of salad sides that would go with almost any main dish.

Today I am sharing with you one cold side dish, Perry Street Pasta Salad, and one warm one, Andouille Potato Salad. Both of these dishes would go well with a cookout or and indoor event. Since they both contain a meat component, they could also stand alone as a light entree. Either way they both taste delicious. Let’s head to the kitchen.

For a gathering in New Orleans, I was asked to bring a side dish. My wife asked me if I had a pasta salad recipe. I answered, I didn’t but let’s see what I can put together. Thus, the Perry Street Pasta Salad was born. We returned from that gathering with a large empty bowl. As for the name, Perry Street was where my wife and I lived.

Perry Street Pasta Salad

24 ounces rainbow rotini, cooked al denté

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced

1 bunch green onions, sliced thin

1 pint grape tomatoes, washed

1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced black olives, drained

1 pound ham, diced

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 bottle (16 ounces) Robusto Italian dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions. Cool with running water. In a large bowl, add pasta, vegetables and ham; toss well. Add dry seasonings to the salad and toss. Add salad dressing and mix well. Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow flavors to blend. Toss before serving. This can be served either cold or at room temperature.

This is not your typical potato salad. This warm side dish is a great addition to any gathering, whether its indoors or outdoors. I tend to gravitate to this recipe, since I’m not the biggest fan of mayonnaise. Give it a try. It’s a great change from traditional potato salad.

Andouille Potato Salad

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 pound andouille sausage, cut in a 1-inch dice

2 small onions, diced

2 cups beef stock

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Peel potatoes, and place in a large pot with enough cold water to cover by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, add 1 tablespoon salt, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

While potatoes cook, combine the vinegar, sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt in a small saucepan and place over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Drain the potatoes. Using gloves or paper towels to protect your hands, cut the potatoes into large chunks. Drizzle with the hot vinegar mixture, gently stir, and set aside.

Cook andouille in a large skillet over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until browned and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain excess fat from the skillet, leaving a thin coating on the bottom. Add onions and sauté until translucent but not browned. Add stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Pour over reserved warm potato mixture and sprinkle with cooked andouille and parsley. Gently stir and serve immediately.

When planning for a get together, often the side dishes are one of the last menu items that are thought of. Sometimes, I find it’s fun to start with the sides. I plan my menus on what I think my guest would like to eat. If a certain side dish is suggested, it’s just as easy to start with the side dish and plan around it. It’s amazing the different meals you will come up with.

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