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Side or starter with macaronic and cheese?

m
milklady Nov 12, 2009 08:55 PM

I'm making Martha Stewart's cheddar and gruyere mac and cheese as a main dish. there will also be a green salad.

Any ideas for an additional vegetable side, or perhaps a vegetable soup? I'm struggling with what to serve that will help balance out the heaviness of the main dish.

  1. operagirl Nov 12, 2009 09:49 PM

    What about some greens? My CSA gave out a great recipe for Catalan-style chard, which might go well. You clean/de-stem a pound of chard, sauté it with olive oil and garlic, then add a handful each of golden raisins and toasted pine nuts, cooking a bit more until the raisins are softened.

    2 Replies
    1. re: operagirl
      ChristinaMason Nov 13, 2009 12:11 AM

      ditto. greens are classic with mac. pretty much anything green and slightly bitter goes nicely. other ideas: roasted Brussels sprouts, arugula or spinach salad (maybe with cornbread croutons...a nice homage to the south...if that would work?), sauteed broccoli(ni), maybe a French green bean salad in vinaigrette?

      1. re: ChristinaMason
        hotoynoodle Nov 13, 2009 04:55 AM

        i vote sharp greens too. watercress or chard with lemon. garlic and olive oil; radicchio, endive or trevisano grilled, then doused with fresh orange or tangerine juice and garlic infused evoo.

    2. cassoulady Nov 13, 2009 05:23 AM

      I think with something rich and creamy, it is nice to have something tart like a green salad with a mustardy vinaigrette.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cassoulady
        c oliver Nov 16, 2009 07:57 PM

        I also like the salad with mac n cheese. I'm addicted to argula with good olive oil, lemon juice, shaved Parm, s&p (thanks for the millionth time to MMRuth).

      2. Emme Nov 13, 2009 08:49 PM

        I agree with a nice salad.

        For soup, maybe a gazpacho or a creamless tomato soup.

        You could also do a mixture of greens (mustard, kale, and spinach) cooked with garlic and onions. Simple and flavorful, but slightly bitter to balance and cut the richness of the mac'n'chese.

        1. r
          Reed422 Nov 17, 2009 08:07 AM

          I think a Caesar salad would be nice with it

          1 Reply
          1. re: Reed422
            hotoynoodle Nov 17, 2009 08:44 AM

            also not to be nit-picky, but a starter or side with cheese would just be dairy over-kill for me.

          2. RetiredChef Nov 17, 2009 08:12 AM

            I don’t mean to be rude or nit-picky, but when is Macaroni and Cheese considered a main dish? Is this a common practice?

            4 Replies
            1. re: RetiredChef
              l
              LauraGrace Nov 17, 2009 08:39 AM

              I would say that really rich, homemade mac and cheese -- made with a bechamel, tons of cheese, baked, crusty, etc. -- would be a perfectly good main course. Of course, it also makes a good accompaniment to plenty of meat-based mains.

              As to whether it's a common practice or not, I couldn't say.

              1. re: RetiredChef
                w
                wallyz Nov 17, 2009 08:41 AM

                Mac and cheese with protein added (Spam, Sausage, Lobster, Bacon, BBQ Pork, hot dogs) is routinely used as a main dish in households with Children who limit their palates. Or in households with adults who grew up using it as a main dish, like mine.

                1. re: RetiredChef
                  c
                  cheesecake17 Nov 17, 2009 08:43 AM

                  Macaroni and Cheese is always a main dish in my house. Not sure why it would be an appetizer or side dish... it's got tons of cheese and it's a heavy dish. I couldn't imagine eating mac and cheese and then eating a heavier main course.

                  1. re: RetiredChef
                    c oliver Nov 17, 2009 04:47 PM

                    There's a restaurant in NYC that only serve M&C. So, yes.

                  2. c
                    cookie44 Nov 17, 2009 10:22 AM

                    You stated you already intend to serve a green salad, which I think is a good choice. You did specify whether yyou are serving that as sort of a preliminary salad course, or with your mac and cheese. You might consider serving it first. Either way the only thing that really sprung to my mind were some carrots, lightly steamed or sauteed, simply dressed. If I were a guest at your dinner, I'd like the variety of colors and appreciate a simple veggie with a heavy comforting main dish. I'm sure there are other simple, colorful veggies that would work as well just carrots jumped to my mind.

                    While I really like vegetable soups, I think even a light vegetable soup might be too filling in this instance, but that's just me.

                    Another possible option is to beef up your salad a bit instead of offering another dish. Maybe add some fruit (pears or apples would be nice) or other elements (beets could be good) to add interest to your meal that way.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cookie44
                      hotoynoodle Nov 17, 2009 10:29 AM

                      color is important, but so is texture. with such a soft main, i'd like something very crunchy to go with.

                    2. m
                      milklady Nov 17, 2009 10:32 AM

                      Update of what was served:

                      provencal lentil soup with vegetables (small bowl -- served as first course)
                      Macaroni & cheese (made with bechamel, gruyere, cheddar and breadcrumbs
                      green salad with fruit and blue cheese crumbles (brought by a guest)
                      sauteed cherry tomatoes with basil

                      the mac and cheese was (as always) filling, delicious and even almost elegant.
                      the soup was a great counterpoint -- healthy, full of fiber and almost no fat. the sauteed tomatoes were simple and added good acidity to the meal. If I had made a salad myself I wouldn't have added cheese, but no one minded at all.

                      Thanks for all the suggestions!

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