Simple sides like bacon cheddar with grits, roasted cabbage, and zucchini with lemon and thyme go with just about anything.
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1. In a medium saucepan, cook 4 slices bacon, finely chopped, and 1 jalapeño (optional), finely chopped, over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until bacon is browned, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon and jalapeño (if using) to a small bowl. Remove pan from heat and carefully add 4 1/2 cups water (fat may sputter).
2. Bring liquid to a boil over high heat and whisk in 1 cup quick-cooking grits. Whisk until mixture begins to thicken, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook 25 minutes or until creamy. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Whisk in 1 cup grated sharp cheddar (2.5 ounces) and 3/4 of the bacon mixture. Pour into a 2-quart serving dish and top with 1/2 cup cheddar (1.5 ounces) and remaining bacon mixture.
Nutrition information per serving: 300 calories, 13 grams fat (7 grams saturated fat), 33 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, less than 1 gram fiber, 39 percent of calories from fat.
Bibb salad with radishes and asparagus
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; season with coarse salt and ground pepper.
2. Add 2 heads bibb or Boston lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces, 4 thinly sliced radishes and 4 asparagus stalks, also thinly sliced. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 144 calories, 14 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 86 percent of calories from fat.
Roasted cabbage wedges
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.
2. Place 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds, in a single layer on sheet, and brush with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds.
3. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 102 calories, 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 9 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, 62 percent of calories from fat.
Zucchini with lemon and thyme
1. Cut 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium) into large pieces. In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add half the zucchini and toss to coat in oil. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper, and cook until golden brown in spots, about 4 minutes.
2. Transfer zucchini to a serving bowl. Repeat with 2 more teaspoons of oil and remaining zucchini. Stir batches together and add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves; season with salt and pepper.
Nutrition information per serving: 69 calories, 5 grams fat (less than 1 gram saturated fat), 6 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 65 percent of calories from fat.