Beef tenderloin makes an excellent festive meal for any occasion. Roasted or grilled, there are so many different rubs, creams and gravies you can serve with it to enhance the already robust meat. What to serve with it becomes a challenge for some people. Not wanting to outdo the main dish, but not wanting to skimp on the side dish either becomes more of a problem than it needs to. You don't need to think outside the box, but you don't have to over think the problem, either.
How You're Preparing the Tenderloin
How you're preparing the beef tenderloin should dictate the choices of side dishes you're going to serve. You don't want to create a side dish that challenges or contrasts with the flavor of the tenderloin. Think of how the tenderloin is going to taste, the way you intend to prepare it, and then think what might go well with it.
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A popular side dish is the potato. But it doesn't have to be served baked, boiled or mashed. You can be creative and make a mashed red-potato salad, or a roasted new-potato dish with other vegetables and spices--again, not challenging the flavor of the tenderloin recipe.
Salad is another nice side dish to serve with or before a tenderloin. Toss in chopped sour apples with your usual salad and add different types of lettuce, like red or green leaf--or both--if you don't already use them. Serve with fresh baked bread or dinner rolls, which also make a nice side dish.
People eat with their eyes once they've had a chance to smell the food cooking. Restaurants create side dishes that complement the entree by both color and eye appeal. Oftentimes, they skimp on the flavor of the side dish, making it bland so it will not overpower the entree. While you don't have to go to that extreme with your tenderloin side dishes, you should apply the basics of eye appeal and plate presentation, especially if you're trying to impress.
The tenderloin is your entree, dark and bold in color. Perhaps a little pink for a medium rare desire, it makes a nice colorful display on its own. This is your basis to work around. The starch such as a potato or even a long grain and wild rice (or pilaf) would make a lighter color positioned next to the dark entree. Now a green across the plate would be nice, but it doesn't have to be simple green beans or plain spinach. There are many recipe books available for side dishes that will teach you how to mix up and enhance side dishes to complement your tenderloin--or any other main course.
Mixing it Up
Fresh spinach makes a nice side dish with tenderloin, but add some roasted red pepper, red onion and a slight trace of garlic during cooking. The reds of the peppers and onions will enhance the dark green of the spinach, making a nice bouquet to serve next to the tenderloin. More importantly, the flavor will serve two purposes. It won't overpower the flavor of the tenderloin, but it will not be plain old boring spinach.
Chopped zucchini with chopped summer squash together make a nice yellow and green color and have light flavors. Zest them up a little by roasting in olive oil with a touch of balsamic vinaigrette--be careful not to overdo it--and add some sweet onions, orange roasted peppers and cherry or grape tomatoes--with some light spices--for a beautiful rainbow of colors that will not only enhance the tenderloin, but will not overpower it.
Add some sliced blanched almonds with fresh cranberries to steamed green beans and the colors and flavor will look professional, but are simple to make and delicious.
Once you put your mind to it, the possibilities of mixing vegetables up in your kitchen for colors, taste and eye appeal are endless and fun to discover.