Vegetarian: Braised Baby Bok Choy
Simple, quick vegetable side dishes are something that most of us prepare several times a week, and for that reason it can be easy to fall into reliable ruts: Sautéed spinach. Roasted broccoli. Wilted kale. These vegetables are all delicious, but given the incredible variety of produce most of us have access to throughout the year, it's worth thinking, every once in a while, of putting something different on the table.
Bok choy is an incredibly tasty, easy to prepare vegetable that many of us simply don't think to cook because, well, it's Asian and we don't know what to do with it. But I'm here to tell you that bok choy needn't be reserved for your next stir-fry: in fact, my favorite way to prepare it is to caramelize it in hot oil and then braise it quickly in a flavorful liquid made of rice wine vinegar, dark soy sauce, and brown sugar that reduces to a beautiful glaze. The stems of the bok choy remain deliciously crisp-tender, while the leaves wilt softly, and the smooth, sweet/savory soy reduction pulls everything together.
Though the recipe relies on Asian ingredients, this dish is incredibly versatile: it's as at home next to a classic grilled steak (if you want to go the meat route) as it is alongside a mound of fluffy white rice and some fried tofu. So the next time you're racking your brain for an alternative to the same old side, think of the humble bok choy.
About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a freelance catering chef, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.