It is FINALLY starting to feel like Summer here in Canada and with this beautiful weather comes lovely thoughts of dining outdoors surrounded by family and good friends. I don’t like to fuss over menu planning so I always keep some great side dish ideas handy and pair it with a simple main dish, like grilled chicken.
Before I get to telling you about those side dishes, let me give you an exciting update. Through to October, I’m very proud to be partnering with Maple Leaf as their Culinary Expert! Their commitment to using real, simple ingredients that are perfect for the whole family make them the perfect partner for my own personal beliefs towards food and family meal time – beliefs which I have always happily shared with you all here on Daily Tiramisu! If you want to find out more about Maple Leaf products or get some more great meal inspirations (in addition to what I will be posting here on Daily Tiramisu), visit MapleLeaf.ca.
Okay, back to those great side dish ideas…I’ve come up with three great side dishes that include some of the amazing new Maple Leaf products as well as being colourful, well-balanced and delicious!
First up is my Big Batch Ham, Cheese & Vegetable Pancakes. These pancakes can be used as a side dish for brunch, as a take along lunch or even dinner! They are full of veggies and packed with protein with Maple Leaf Natural Smoked Black Forest Ham. I made this recipe big batch because I figured that if you’re going to go through the effort of prepping the vegetables, it’s great to get a big batch out of it so that these delicious vegetable pancakes can serve you for many of your family’s weekly meals.
- 3 cups Maple Leaf Natural Smoked Black Forest Ham, chopped into ¼ inch cubes
- 1 Small head of cabbage, very thinly sliced (equivalent to about 5-6 cups)
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely grated (about 2 cups)
- 1 bunch asparagus, sliced into thin rounds (about 4 cups)
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 24 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, finely shredded
- kosher salt & Pepper, to taste
- Canola oil, for frying
- Make the pancake mixture: In a very large bowl, combine ham, cabbage, carrots, asparagus, and scallions. Add in flour and toss to coat the vegetables evenly with the flour.
- In a separate large bowl, add eggs, cheddar, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Pour the egg mixture over the cabbage mixture and stir to combine and evenly coat the vegetables with egg mixture. (I found it easiest to use clean hands to do the mixing.)
- Fry your pancakes: Heat a large heavy frying pan to high heat. Add Canola oil and heat again.
- Using a ½ cup measuring cup, scoop ½ cup of the pancake mixture and dump into the pan in one heap. You can do this in batches of 3-4 depending on how large your frying pan is, making sure the pancakes do not overlap in the pan.
- Using a spatula, slightly flatten the pancakes so they spread out slightly. Cook until the edges start to get golden brown (about 2 minutes). Using the spatula, flip the pancakes and cook the other side for another 2 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through (if you’re not sure if the pancakes are cooked through, cut one through the centre and you will be able to check this way).
- Continue cooking your pancakes in batches, removing any stray crispy vegetable or egg pieces and refreshing the oil every few batches to avoid getting burnt bits in your pancakes.
Note: Whenever you add more oil to your pan, be sure to heat it first before adding in your next batch.
Serve pancakes hot, warm or even cold – they taste great anyway you serve them!
Store any leftovers: in your refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 4 days. These also freeze very well in your freezer in an airtight container or re-sealable freezer bag for up to 20 days. You can reheat your pancakes in a toaster oven, microwave or on a hot frying pan until warmed through.
Next is my Sweet Potato, Lentil, Kale and Top Dog Hash Side dish. This is another great way to get the kids to eat some veggies. I prepared this dish by sauteing the kale because I find kale can be tough. Sauteing it softens it up and allows balanced forkfuls of kale, sweet potato, lentils and Maple Leaf’s new, real, simple, original Top Dogs. Trust me, as soon as the kids find out there are hot dogs in this dish, they will be super excited to gobble it up.
- 5 Maple Leaf Top Dogs, sliced ¼ inch thick on a diagonal
- 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into ¼”-½’ cubes
- ½ large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 520ml can of cooked lentils, drained (equivalent to 2 cups)
- 1 small bunch Tuscan kale (equivalent to about 4 cups), ribs removed and finely sliced
- ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme (1 tsp thyme leaves)
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat the oil. Once your oil is hot, add the onions, celery, carrots and sweet potatoes and cook for about 6-7 minutes (or until everything is softened).
- Add the hot dogs, garlic, thyme leaves, and sauté for about one minute.
- Add the chopped kale to the skillet and continue cooking until the kale wilts.
- Add the cooked lentils and sauté until the lentils are combined with the kale and sweet potato mixture and warmed through.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve immediately.
Keep any leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
My third side dish idea is Quinoa Fried Rice with Maple Leaf Natural Original Bacon and Bok Choy. My family loves fried rice so I thought I would create a version with a twist, using quinoa and delicious bacon, a family favourite as well. This recipe is awesome because the ingredients can be prepared in advance (such as on the weekend). After everything is prepped and stored in your refrigerator, and on a busy weeknight, simply combine the ingredients using my recipe and you’ve got a great side dish to go with your Main dish!
- 3 cups Quinoa, cooked (equivalent to about 1 cup uncooked quinoa)
- 5 slices Maple Leaf Natural Original Bacon
- 2 cups bok choy, ends removed and thinly sliced
- ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 egg, scrambled and sliced
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp Canola Oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Make ahead: If you have the quinoa and bacon cooked ahead of time, this dish comes together really quickly. Cook the quinoa in 2-3 cups of vegetable/chicken stock and refrigerate it in an airtight container until you need it (not longer than 5 days ahead). Cook the bacon at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes or until desired crispness. Drain (on a paper towel-lined plate) the bacon and roughly chop. Store it in your refrigerator in an airtight container until you are ready to use it.
- In a large wok or skillet over high heat, heat the canola oil. Add onions, garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté the mixture until the onions are slightly translucent (about 3-4 minutes).
- Add the raw bok choy and cooked Maple Leaf Natural Original Bacon and sauté until the leaves turn bright green (about 1 minute).
- Add the cooked quinoa to the skillet along with the soy sauce and stir and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the quinoa is warmed through.
- Add the raw egg to the skillet and stir it until the egg is cooked and evenly distributed throughout the quinoa (about 3 minutes).
- Add the sliced scrambled eggs and the scallions to the skillet and combine.
- Serve immediately with an extra garnish of sliced scallions.
- Keep any leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
I am a big believer in creating recipes that are easy to prepare for your family, while entertaining, or for a weeknight convenience. These three recipes definitely check all of those boxes and I know your family will love them just as much as mine.
*This blog post and recipes were created as part of a paid partnership between Maple Leaf & Julie Miguel. As always, all opinions are my own.