There's nothing more minimal than a side dish. I usually don't even bother with them because I gravitate toward one-pot meals like pastas, stews and soups. But when I'm feeling overwhelmed or tired, the easiest dinner to pull together quickly is the classic divided plate I grew up with: the old standbys neatly arranged in triangular formation...meat, potato and vegetable. These purple potatoes just jazz up the plate a little.
They don't look like much sitting there in the store in the net bag, but boy when you get them home and slice them open they are pretty spectacular.
I halve the potatoes, drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them at 400 for about 30-35 minutes. I give them a toss once or twice while they're roasting.
I have a bad habit of buying fresh basil, and then leaving it in the plastic on the counter because I can't figure out how to store it...it wilts when I put it in water, and just dies in the fridge. So I procrastinate and often end up throwing it out. Today I decided to take action and whiz it into pesto.
While the potatoes roast, take a bag or bunch of fresh basil and stuff it in a little food processor or blender. Add a handful of walnuts, a handful of grated hard Italian cheese, the juice of a lemon and salt and pepper. While the machine is running, drizzle in enough olive oil so the pesto has a loose consistency. Scrape down the sides once or twice to get it all combined. I left out the garlic and used extra lemon. No particular reason, I just really wanted to taste the lemon.
When the potatoes are tender and browned, toss them with a good dollop of pesto. (You'll have plenty leftover for pasta) Now you've got a pretty side dish that has an intense bright flavor, and when your side dish is this lively, you can pair it with something super simple, like a beautiful piece of pink salmon, a lemony roast chicken breast or slices of pork tenderloin.