Simple and versatile side dishes for your menu | DeKalb Live

Main dishes, desserts and appetizers are the stars of the buffet table. However, side dishes are often an afterthought when planning menus. Still, side dishes, including salads, complement the meal and shouldn’t be overlooked. A well-thought-out side dish can complement the meal or, if it’s a vegetarian dish, serve as a stand-alone starter. These are a few of my favorite sides. They are so simple to prepare and have got the final approval from family members.

Creamy Pea Salad

• 1 bag (16 oz) frozen green peas, thawed

• 1 cup of mayonnaise

• ½ cup sour cream

• ½ tsp. garlic powder

• 1 TABLESPOON. sugar

• ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar, optional

• Salt and pepper to taste

• ½ cup finely chopped onion (red onion or white onion)

• 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

• ½ cup real pieces of crumbled bacon (plus more for garnish)

• ½ cup cubes of mild cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper until creamy and smooth. Stir in chopped onions, grated sharp cheddar, peas, bacon and cheddar cubes until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Stir before serving and top with additional bacon. Note: You can use 6 slices of cooked and diced bacon for the bacon crumbs in the recipe.

Tortellini salad

with prosciutto

• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

• 2 TABLESPOONS. balsamic vinegar

• ½ tsp. italian seasoning

• ¼ tsp. kosher salt

• 1 TABLESPOON. grated parmesan and romano mixture

• 12 ounces. three cheese tortellini

• ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced

• ½ cup of prosciutto, chopped

• ¼-½ cup Kalamata olives, sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt and cheese until smooth and emulsified. Prepare tortellini according to package directions, rinse with cold water and drain. Add the drained tortellini to the oil mixture; stir in tomatoes, prosciutto and olives. Toss to coat. Refrigerate for an hour. Garnish with fresh parsley and additional grated cheese.

Spinach oatmeal

• 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal

• 4 cups of boiling water

• ½ cup of salted butter

• 1 envelope of onion soup mix

• 3 cups (12 oz.) Grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided

• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

• ½ cup of milk

• 1 pkg. (10 oz.) Frozen chopped spinach (cooked and drained)

Cook groats in water according to package directions. Stir the grains to prevent lumps from forming. Stir in butter, onion soup mixture and 2 cups of cheese. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Defrost frozen chopped spinach in the microwave and wring out all excess water. Drain well and set aside. Stir in the beaten eggs and milk into the oatmeal. Stir in the spinach. Pour into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cup of grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

Potato stacks

• 4 to 5 medium russet potatoes, very thinly sliced

• 1 ½ cup heavy cream

• ¼ tsp. dried thyme

• 2 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1 C. salt

• ½ tsp. ground black pepper

• freshly grated Parmesan

Wash and peel the potatoes. Use a mandolin to slice the potatoes to about 1/16 of an inch thick. Grease bottom and sides of 12 muffin pan with nonstick spray; put aside. In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream, thyme and garlic to a boil; remove from fire. Toss the potatoes with the salt and pepper and layer the potatoes in stacks in the muffin cups. Fill the cups almost to the top. Pour cream sauce over each stack, filling almost to the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle top with Parmesan. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Let sit for a few minutes, then run a knife along the edges to loosen the stacks. Carefully place in a dish. Notes: You can replace the Gruyère with Parmesan. You can add a pinch of crushed rosemary to the recipe.

– Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is an avid Southern cook who enjoys spending time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at

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