My old boss Carrie had a formula for the way she approached fashion. It went like this: Gap Clothes, Prada Accessories. It’s still a favorite expression in our house — not because we are regularly buying Italian handbags, but because the philosophy is remarkably applicable to home design (Ikea cabinets, Waterworks hardware), summer plans (town camp, vacation rental with pool and ocean view) and — you guessed it — to Family Dinner. My feeling is: If you have extra fresh vegetables or extra special side dishes like these accessorizing your main, you can go super basic with that main — Lemony Potato Smash, Grilled Chicken! — and still feel like you’re pretty stylin’.
Roast Spring Asparagus. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss asparagus in a few glugs of olive oil, add salt, and roast for about 10 minutes. This dish is unbelievably superior to regular old steamed asparagus.
Lemony Potato Smash. Toss your potatoes (red, fingerling, or yukon) in olive oil and salt and roast at 425°F for about 35 minutes. Remove from oven, smash with a whisk or a fork. Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze a lemon over it, add sour cream, and snipped chives.
Broccoli Slaw. In a medium bowl whisk together 1/3 cup mayo, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, a squeeze of lemon, and 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (crucial). Toss with a bag of the shredded broccoli from, of course, Trader Joe’s.