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Vegetable side dish for Christmas Buffet Dinner

The menu:

Cherry Tomatoes stuffed with Crab and Goat Cheese
Puff Pastry with mustard and Smoked Salmon

Spinach Salad with Mushrooms and Mustard Vinaigrette
Beef Tenderloin with Bourbon and Cracked Black Pepper Sauce
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Poppy Seed Rolls

Chocolate cups filled with chocolate and white chocolate mousse
Fudge Cake (cut into bite size pieces)
Egg Nog Pound Cake (toasted and cut into bite size pieces with Rum Dipping Sauce)

I need a couple of vegetable dishes to go with this. I SUCK at coming up with good veggies. I'd like to avoid green beans, since I did those last year with roasted shallots and cashews. What other suggestions have you got?

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  1. One thing I like is a beet & bleu cheese salad. I just boil the beets (I guess I could roast, but never do), slip them out of their skins when they're done and toss with crumbled bleu cheese & a bit of olive oil and salt & pepper. Sometimes I've also added chopped almonds or pinenuts, but not required. This dish is good hot or cold so you could make it ahead pretty easily. It's probably only good if you're a beet fan, but I love 'em.

    I know you're trying to avoid green beans, but my mom made a great green bean salad for Thanksgiving--cooked & cut up green beans tossed with a mustard & cumin vinegrette, with shredded gruyere & chopped walnuts. Sounds weird, but the flavors were fantastic.

    Good luck!

    1. How about Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta? It's one of my favorite side dishes and there's a very good recipe here:


      1. I made roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and shallots for Thanksgiving and everyone raved about them.
        4 slices of bacon
        2 shallots, chopped
        2-3 Tablespoons of decent balsalmic vinegar
        1 bag Hanover gold line brussel sprouts(I like these better than fresh, more consistant size, really small.Must be GOLD line)
        rosemary, sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
        Fry bacon crisp and crumble. Add shallots to bacon grease and fry till translucent. Saute brussel sprouts and seasonings just till mixed. You may need a little olive oil if it looks too dry. Take off heat add vinegar and bacon toss and roast in 350 degree oven 12-15 min.

        1. It sounds like you also need some sort of pickle given the menu. I just posted the idea for a cucumber/onion quick pickle on another board. It might be a nice cool contrast with your main menu.

          Think of it as some sort of Western raita - peel, seed, slice and salt cukes. Let drain. Squeeze dry. Add thin-sliced red onions. Dress with a vinaigrette of your taste; or, I use olive oil, cider vinegar, a whiff of garlic (and ginger if you're making beef - nice flavor compliment), and a bit of dry mustard, depending upon the menu, again - also check flavor to correct for a bit of sweetness. Let the salad/pickle sit at room temp. prior to serving.

          HAF is right on with a beet salad recommendation, especially if this is to be a buffet . Good flavors with your beef tenderloin.

          1. This is my holiday choice of a great veggie side dish. You can prepare it the night before and refrigerate, then cook the day of your party. If you do this, take out of refrig. 1/2hr. before baking.

            Spinach Gratin - Ina Garten

            4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
            4 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large)
            1/4 cup flour
            1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
            1 cup heavy cream
            2 cups milk
            3 pounds frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (5 (10-ounce) packages)
            1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
            1 tablespoon kosher salt
            1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
            1/2 cup grated Guyuere Cheese

            Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
            Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the flour and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add the cream and milk and cook until thickened. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach and add the spinach to the sauce. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

            Transfer the spinach to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the Gruyere on top. Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.

            Prep Time: 10 minutes
            Inactive Prep Time: 45 minutes
            Cook Time: 40 minutes
            Yield: 8 servings

            1. Bourbon makes me think pecan. I saw this recipe in the latest gourmet, Baby brussel sprouts with buttered pecans: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

              and because the only cheese is in the gougeres: Green beans, toasted pecans and blue cheese: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

              brainstorming: asparagus gratin, roasted beets, a savory bread pudding with mushrooms, a mixture of roasted shallots (or pearl onions) and carrots.

              1. Andiereid - I love the sound of the tenderloin with Bourbon and Cracked Black Pepper Sauce! I've got half a tenderloin (from the 8 pounder we bought for Thanksgiving) in the freezer that I want to make over christmas. Would you mind sharing your recipe?

                One suggestion for an easy delicious veggie is fresh buttered peas tossed with chopped pancetta (cooked and crisped first).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Meg

                  Thank you, Meg. I don't really have much of a recipe, but basically I take the roasting pan and pour out the fat, then put that over a couple of burners and deglaze that pan over medium-low heat with about 1/2 cup of bourbon. Then I add about 2 cups of beef broth and some generous grinds of black pepper - I use a very coarse grind for that. Then I simmer it and salt to taste, and let it reduce to about 1/2 volume. Then I add about 2/3 cup heavy cream and heat it. If it's not thick enough, I mix together 2 Tbs of butter with 2 Tbs flour at a time and add whisk that in to the gravy.

                  Thanks everyone for the side ideas - happy to hear any more! I have plenty of time to decide!

                2. I would opt for something with plenty of flavor like broccoli rabe or kale, braised with some red pepper and a splash of vinegar. I think it would form a good contrast with the richness of your beef.

                  1. I made this dish from the November issue of BA for Thanksgiving and it was really fantastic. I think it would hold well on a buffet and is easy for people to dish out.



                    1. Can I come?

                      That menu sounds amazing!

                      My first thought was a cauliflower gratin but then I realized you need some red/orange/purple/yellow and something with a texture that compliments/doesn't conflict with the mashers. You already have spinach/green in the salad, but I think a gratin is a perfect idea!

                      I made a killer eggplant tomato gratin this summer, with kalamata olives, pine nuts and feta. But you could do a basic tomtato gratin---that would be lovely. If you roast brussel sprouts, throw in a bunch of colorful beets and you will have a very festive dish. Peel and chop beets (yellow, purple, orange) into about half the size of the beets and they will roast up nicely.

                      Gratins are so good!

                      Thanks for the menu inspiration!


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: talkoftomatoes

                        Thank you! After checking out your site, I'm most flattered!

                        Thanks for the gratin idea. Definite possibility.

                      2. Well, I always categorize vegetables by type for developing a menu: roots, stalks, leaves and fruits/pods. You have roots and leaves in the main course already. A bit of fruit in the first course. No stalks.

                        So, I would say to consider braised or roasted stalk vegetables (celery, chard, asparagus (even if it's out of season, it's still loved by many). If it weren't for the first item in the first course, I'd also recommend stuffed roasted red peppers.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Karl S

                          The Dec. issue of Saveur has a chopped celery salad from Provence. We had it last week one night. It is simply chopped celery and leaves and a vinaigrette. It was light and refreshing and a surprise something so simple could be so good.

                          1. re: Candy

                            Try a medley of fall vegetables - 1 1/2lb broccoli, 2 yellow squash, 2 zucchini,1 leek (white part only) thinly sliced, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 T minced ginger, 1 red pepper-diced 1/3".
                            1 T olive or grapeseed oil, 1/4 t salt, 1 cup chicken or veggie broth, 1 t sugar, dash cayenne pepper. 2T julienned fresh basil leaves.

                            Cut broccoli into florets and blanch, drain. Split zucchini and squash lenghtwise and cut into 1/3" diagonal slices.

                            Heat oil in non stick skillet over high heat. Add leek, garlic, ginger, yellow squash, zucchini, red pepper and salt. Stir fry until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add broth and sugar. Simmer uncovered until squash are tender, about 3 minutes (slightly less if reheating later).
                            Add broccoli to hot mixture. Toss gently to combine. Cook until heated through, 2-3 minutes, tossing to distribute heat. Add cayenne pepper.
                            Season to taste with salt. Drain off any excess liquid. Toss with julienne basil.
                            Serve hot.

                            6 servings.

                            Colorful. Full of flavor. If you're lucky to have leftovers, they work beautifully in an omelette.

                        2. We served Creamy Brussels Sprouts from the November Better Homes and Gardens when we had a birthday dinner right after Thanksgiving, and it was devoured.

                          Definetly the best Brussels sprouts I've ever eaten (might have something to do with the heavy cream. . .)

                          1. Sounds great! Please share your recipe for the Egg Nog Pound Cake.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: KellBell

                              Here you go, KellBell

                              Egg Nog Pound Cake

                              3 c. all purpose flour
                              2 tsp. baking powder
                              1⁄2 tsp. salt
                              1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
                              1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
                              2 c. sugar
                              3 eggs
                              1 c. eggnog mixed with 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 Tbsp. dark rum

                              2 Tbsp. Dark rum
                              2 Tbsp. water
                              1⁄4 c. sugar

                              Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a tube pan.

                              Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl twice. Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each egg. Scrape the bowl down again. On low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the eggnog mixture. End with dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove. Brush on glaze while cake is warm.

                              In a small bowl, blend rum, water and sugar. Warm on low heat until mixture thickens. Brush on with a pastry brush.

                              1. re: Andiereid

                                Thank you! I can't wait to try it.

                                1. re: KellBell

                                  You're most welcome. I love it. My husband had a piece for breakfast this morning. Rum glaze and all.

                            2. I like the idea of brussel sprouts as others have mentioned.
                              I think roasted root vegetables are always easy and a hit - parsnip, fennel, sweet potato or squash - and maybe a couple beets?

                              Do you have a recipe for the poppy seed rolls?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: pescatarian

                                Sure thing - it's from an old Bon Appetit: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                                I like them because they can be made ahead and frozen and reheated.