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Pork chops are a flavorful and quick-cooking protein that can be paired with almost any side item. They're versatile, too; pork chops can be enjoyed baked, fried, broiled or grilled without sacrificing any of the naturally juicy, meaty flavor. While applesauce is a common accompaniment for pork chops, there are myriad other options. Complement your pork chops with anything from starch and vegetables to citrus and relishes.
Pairing your pork chops with a starch can ensure that your meal is hearty and very filling for everyone. Try a mix of long-grain and wild rice with diced mixed vegetables as a side, or bake the pork chops with rice, adding water or broth and your favorite seasonings. The rice will absorb the seasonings, as well as the meat juices. If you're short on time, opt for pasta. Toss linguine with garlic, olive oil, and oregano, and add roasted veggies for extra substance. If you're serving picky eaters, macaroni and cheese and garlic mashed potatoes are can't-miss options. In the South, it's popular to serve fried pork chops with buttery grits or hominy. Mix the leftover cracklings with the grits for extra flavor.
Choosing vegetables as a side can help keep your meal low in both fat and calories, especially if you opt for lean-cut pork chops. Roasted mixed vegetables are an easy, no-fuss option; arrange chopped cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus and squash on foil, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before popping them in the oven. A hearty salad is another option. Start with spring-mix or arugula base and add tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots and red onions**. Choose a balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette to add a slight sweetness to your veggies. You can also mix chopped raw cauliflower, broccoli and sugar snap peas with Italian dressing for a satisfyingly crunchy and flavorful side.
Although fruit doesn't always come to mind as a side served with pork chops, it can add big flavor when prepared properly. Bake apple or pear slices, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve them alongside the chops, or grill orange slices and drizzle a light orange marmalade over the chops. For an extra-light side, make your own fresh fruit salad, by tossing strawberries, melon, kiwi, peaches and blueberries in in a light raspberry vinaigrette.
Sauces and Relishes
Add flavor and substance to your pork chops without the effort of making an entire side item. A hearty sauce, chutney or relish is an excellent accompaniment. Try a white- and black-bean salsa; toss beans, chopped tomatoes, and cilantro with a white-wine vinegar and simmer until warm, then serve over the chops. Or, make bruschetta pork chops. Mix diced tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil with olive oil, salt and pepper, then cover the pork chops with the mixture. You could also make a fruit chutney; [Eating Well] (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/fresh_fruit_chutney.html) recommends using nectarines, cherries, apricots and raisins.
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Kate Bradley began writing professionally in 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and a minor in German from Berry College in Rome, Ga; TEFL/TESOL certification from ITC International in Prague; and a Master of Arts in integrated global communication from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.
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