Sometimes when making dinner, you find yourself so focused on the main course that you forget about a side dish. If you're looking for the perfect vegetable side dish, consider what your main meal is and choose accordingly. For example, Grilled meats are balanced with grilled vegetables, while pasta is often served with a salad on the side.
One of the more familiar baked vegetable side dishes is green-bean casserole, which combines the beans with a mushroom cream sauce, topped off with a layer of crunchy fried onions. This hearty dish is a staple in many homes during holiday celebrations. Another baked vegetable side dish often seen on holiday tables is sweet potatoes, also known as candied yams. Baked sweet potatoes typically consist of steamed, chopped potatoes, buttered brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and even marshmallows, all mixed together and baked until bubbly and hot.
You can throw just about any seasoned vegetable on the grill and it'll taste good, but some vegetables truly shine. Bell peppers in particular are an ideal side dish when sliced, seasoned and grilled. Onions on the grill absorb the flavors of the charcoal or wood chips, and go well mixed in with peppers. Asparagus also works well on the grill, cooking quickly to a perfect crispness. If you're not sure what to do with eggplant, slice, season and grill until charred with grill lines for an easy and tasty side dish.
Deep-frying vegetables is commonplace in the south, and few varieties are as popular as fried green tomatoes and fried okra. The keys to making perfect fried green tomatoes is to coat the tomato slices in batter made of eggs, buttermilk, flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper, then frying for no more than two minutes on each side in hot oil. Although similar, the batter for fried okra sometimes includes hot spices. Once fried, this much-maligned vegetable is often a crowd pleaser.
Not all vegetable side dishes need to be hot and some don't even need cooking. Salads are an ideal side dish because you can add whatever you like, including cheese, chopped chicken, eggs, nuts, croutons, crumbled bacon -- even fruit, such as apple and orange slices. Another cold side dish, popular at cookouts and picnics, is potato salad. While the potatoes are cooked and chopped, once they're mixed with mayonnaise, mustard herbs and spices, the dish is refrigerated and served cold. Other cold sides include tomato caprese, which is simply sliced tomatoes and mozzarella sprinkled with basil, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
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