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What to serve with macaroni and cheese

So, I just made a batch of macaroni and cheese... another current thread inspired me. It turned out well, but I just don't think I'm a fan of mac and cheese on its own. What do you suggest serving on the side to balance things out? Preferably, veggies or beans. I was thinking roasted cauliflower, but that does not add any color.

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  1. BBQ pork ribs, collards, and green bean casserole. Unfortunately you would have had to start the ribs and greens about six hours ago. ; )

    1. Roasted broccoli. Good for you and goes great with the cheese. If you eat some in the same forkful as the mac n cheese, it's almost like you're eating broccoli with cheese sauce. Really good cheese sauce...with pasta!
      Ok. That was overboard.
      But trust me, they go well together!

      2 Replies
      1. re: QueenB

        Ah, QueenB, I don't think you went overboard at all. You just sound like you'd really enjoy that menu...as would I. Oh, and I agree. Broccoli's a great side for mac and cheese.

        1. re: QueenB

          +1 for broccoli. I think it is a perfect match with mac n' cheese.

        2. Sauteed greens (pretty much anything - spinach, kale, chard, etc) with garlic and maybe a little hot chili flake.

          2 Replies
          1. re: LauraB

            Another thumbs up for sauteed greens. I really like chard with mac and cheese, but all of these would be good.

            1. re: LauraB

              I agree! Born/Raised in the south and Macaroni & Cheese to me.....screams greens!

            2. I would just do a simple salad with apple matchsticks, toasted pecans, and cranberries. The fruity flavours and the nuts will enhance the cheeses you used in your mac and cheese.

              Alternatively, you could a tomato ragout, which would be a "gourmand" equivalent of using ketchup with your mac and cheese (I've seen so many people add ketchup to their mac and cheese and I have to gag each and every time - ketchup is not one of my favourite things...).

              2 Replies
              1. re: Juniper

                Yes to a big green salad, but I was imagining plump red tomatoes in leaf lettuce. There should be some radishes and green peppers, and a vinaigrette to be a counterpoint to the cheesy macaroni.
                Serve some nice Kalamata olives, and pilckled onions, and you have a nice dinner.

                1. re: Juniper

                  I love this idea! It's so classic I don't know why I never thought of it myself.

                2. Awesome. All great ideas, thanks. The BBQ pork ribs sound awesome, but I'm not sure I'll have the time tomorrow. The broccoli is already in my fridge - don't know how I didn't think of that one earlier. Sauteed greens and tomato ragout sound good too. Even thought the mac and cheese was homemade, it was just so boring on it's own... these suggestions will totally help it out!

                  1. Years ago (many years, in fact), my sister and I went to an all-day nursery school that had a wonderful woman as the school cook. She fed us the most delicious and complete hot lunches you could imagine, all made from scratch from her own Southern/soul food recipes.

                    We especially loved mac-and-cheese day because her mac and cheese came with sauteed greens and a side of homemade stewed tomatoes. It looked pretty on the plate and tasted even better. To this day, I believe that a rich mac-and-cheese needs to be balanced by a bitter green and something sweet and tomato-ey.

                    You know this woman was something if she could get two dozen pre-schoolers to clean a lunch plate that included tomatoes and greens! We used to have to pass by her kitchen on the way to the schoolyard in the morning to play and I still remember how all of us could tell what we'd be eating that day just from the smells.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: newbatgirl

                      What a great story. Now if only I had any clue as how to make Southern-inspired stewed tomatoes...

                      1. re: newbatgirl

                        This lady knew her stuff... Tomatoes, greens & macaroni & cheese. Versatile and can be made your way but the combination of the 3 just work!

                      2. I love to add sweet peas to my mac and cheese and when I was a little girl my mom would put hot dogs in our mac and cheese.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: justagthing

                          I only add peas to the dry box mix when I'm desperate for "Mac & Cheese" but don't have time to make the real deal.

                        2. In addition to greens, how about sweet potatos?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: debbiel

                            Too much starch. Always leery of the potato pasta starch bomb. I can just about get on board with thinly sliced potatoes on pizza but as a side for Mac and cheese it is too much.

                            What about green beans almandine?
                            My fiancé would like baked beans but I am not a fan.

                            1. re: melpy

                              beans are starchy too.

                              just the thought of beans or potato with mac and cheese makes me nappish.

                              woops. way old thread, lol.

                          2. a nice glass of "Dog House" cabernet. Pretty uncomplicated wine goes great with good old greasy pizza and will proably do the same for Mac n Cheese

                            1. In my world, um, anything goes with it. But, seriously, a grilled steak or, even better, grilled pork chops work wonderfully with Mac-n-Cheese, particularly with, as mentioned by some, some good sauteed greens on the side.

                              1. Green beans are classic. Steam them and toss with olive oil, raw chopped garlic, and parsley or basil, salt, pepper. Fabulous. Asparagus is in season right now, also.

                                1. So, it looks like it'll be asparagus (which was on sale!) and a roasted tomato ragout tonight. Thanks again for all the ideas.... I hope to try out them all eventually!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: littlegreenpea

                                    L.G.pea- next time try carmelized brussel sprouts! Very yummy w/mac and cheese.
                                    or, sometimes, I saute spinach. Another good option. I have also added corn to the mac and cheese. :)

                                    1. re: littlegreenpea

                                      You can't go wrong with a green veg and something tomato and in my humble opinion staying meatless! Good for you with your choices! Enjoy!

                                    2. Collard greens or some good fresh green beans cooked with pork/bacon

                                      1. I always like veggies with my mac & cheese. A standard of mine is garlic-sauteed spinach and thick slices of juicy tomato.

                                        1. roasted brussels sprouts with bacon :)

                                          1. I like to mix spinach and mushrooms into my mac and cheese, and then have a really vinegary salad on the side -- use whatever vegetables sound good to you, the important part is that the vinegar mingles with the edges of the mac and cheese and cuts through all the cheesy creaminess.

                                            1. I think it's fine to just go with a salad....but when I want to add something, I grill sausages.
                                              It's kind of a nice combo. Chicken and apple work really well.

                                              1. BLT's & marinated, not creamy, slaw. I am having those 3 things for supper tomorrow : )

                                                1. SO I thought I would re-ignite this thread since it gave me some options for a mac&cheese meal I'm serving 200 in a couple weeks, buffet style.

                                                  I was thinking of toppings. I do stove top M&C because it's faster, and served fresh nothing beats the creaminess of it. But for those who can't even think of M&C without it being baked with a topping, what's the topping of choice, and how would that topping work if it weren't baked?

                                                  I thought it would be nice to have a topping bar, like a salad bar, with a few options.

                                                  So what options would you have for toppings? Bacon? Crushed potato chips? Jalapeno? Thai chilis?

                                                  4 Replies
                                                    1. re: coakes

                                                      Caramelized onions, crisp fried bacon bits, diced ham, chow mein noodles. Think of a salad bar - any of the toppings will probably work.

                                                      1. re: coakes

                                                        Cheez It crackers browned in butter.

                                                        1. re: coakes

                                                          I do homemade breadcrumbs for the topping.

                                                          1. A green salad or some cooked frozen (or fresh!) spinach.

                                                            1. A nice pork roast and a green salad

                                                              1. I love tomatoes on mac n cheese. I just pile them on after the mac is in my bowl.

                                                                I love the idea of peppers. Might be nice if you sauteed them a bit first. It would be like chile con queso mac. Yum.

                                                                I prefer the stove top kind also.

                                                                1. A Southern Staple....Salmon Patties :)

                                                                  1. Yeah I'd go with the broccoli and/or roasted red peppers. You're looking for not only visual and taste counterpoints but also a textural ones.

                                                                    1. This may not be exciting to most but I have made the same meal every Sunday for almost 16 yrs. My whole family has come to expect and demand it so I oblige. As I said maybe boring to some...... Macaroni & Cheese, Thick sliced tomatoes sliced 15 minutes before serving and sprinkled with salt, sugar and light pepper, either collard greens or turnip greens or a mix of both and corn bread. We're Southern (bet you guessed that) and this is our "Sunday Supper" 4:00pm on the dot, whole family and if you're late, what's left is slim pickins.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: FlaHurricane

                                                                        Nice post FlaHurricane, and it made me laugh.

                                                                        1. re: FlaHurricane

                                                                          Ooh fla, super excited to try the greens, I just found an excitingly yummy slow cooker recipe for them after reading your post... Thx!

                                                                          1. re: tim irvine

                                                                            I like to mix in a can of white solid albacore tuna and some frozen peas, a couple of drops of 'truffle-inspired' oil, with some super thin slices of onions and tomatoes on top then a sprinkle of crushed potato chips on top then into a hot oven until I see the sides bubbling hot. I serve this on a nice bed of iceberg lettuce.

                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                              Or served with some KFC, coleslaw, baked beans, fries, gravy, bean salad, potato salad and a muffin. LOL

                                                                          2. roasted pepper in the oven, take the black coat off and marinade it in oil - delicious!