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Add a little zest to side dishes

I’m all for tradition, but when it comes to family dinners, sometimes I just gotta tweak the meal.

Week after week, it’s the same menu: turkey or chicken or roast, and all the same side dishes and desserts. But every once in a while, I try to slip in a new dish to put that extra pinch of spice into the meal.

This week I decided to go citrusy, and the coin toss went to the lime. Limes are available year-round and are typically used as an accent flavor.

When buying your limes, pick ones with smooth skins. Avoid ones with brown spots or that look dried out. A lime should be heavy for its size and give slightly when pressed.

You will need more than you think, as they don’t have much juice in them, and getting the zest off is an exercise in frustration. Keep trying, though; the bottled stuff just doesn’t do any recipe justice.

Spinach and Lime Salad

5 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 5 cups)

1 can artichoke hearts, sliced (or marinated artichoke hearts, drained)

1/2 cup dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup roasted pine nuts or walnuts

1 avocado, diced

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Ground pepper, to taste

Toss spinach with artichoke, cranberries, pine nuts, avocado and feta cheese in a large salad bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss spinach salad with dressing and serve.

Raspberry Lime Parfait

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided

1 cup whipping cream

5 large eggs

2/3 cup fresh lime juice

1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh lime zest

2 cups cookie crumbs (any vanilla cookie will do)

3 cups raspberries

In a saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, cream, eggs, lime juice and zest. Cook over a medium heat, whisking frequently to prevent sticking for about 20 minutes. It should thicken slightly (it will set up more as it cools). Remove it from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan over a low heat, cook 1 cup raspberries and 1/4 cup sugar, mashing with a fork and stirring occasionally for 4 to 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.

Set out 8 parfait glasses. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cookie crumbs into the bottom of each parfait glass. Spoon several tablespoons of the lime custard into each of the glasses. Spoon a teaspoon or so of the raspberry sauce on top and then repeat the process. Top with the remaining raspberries.

Lime and Honey Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potatoes

5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in half crosswise, then cut into 1/2 -inch wedges

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potato wedges in a large bowl. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with the 1 tablespoon butter or margarine and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the 1/2 cup butter. Whisk in the chipotle powder and then add the honey, lime juice and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes and toss until coated. Place the potato slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, drizzling any remaining glaze over the potatoes. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast, covered, for 40 minutes.

Remove the foil and baste the potatoes. Continue to bake, basting every 10 minutes, for about 20 minutes or longer until tender and golden brown.

Serve immediately, or keep warm in a low temperature oven for up to 30 minutes. Baste just before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

– Modified from “The New Thanksgiving Table” by Diane Morgan Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at eztlog@gmail.com or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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