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Old 06-18-2010, 12:46 PM   #1
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What would you serve with this?

We are having friends over tonight. Not just for company, but also to say thank you for helping us with some storm clean up this past week.

I have ground lamb and ground beef thawed in the fridge. Originally I was going to make Shepherd's Pie tonight, as my mother (who lives with us) was going to be gone and she does NOT like lamb at ALL. Then her plans changed and she's going to be gone tomorrow night instead. So, now I've decided that I'm going to use the ground beef and make Cottage Pie instead. Other than the meat, the main difference in the way I make them is that I add parsnips to Cottage Pie and use a bit of red wine in the gravy. In Shepherd's Pie, I add mushrooms and do not use the wine as part of the gravy base. They both have the typical onions, carrots, peas, tomato paste... etc. etc.

But because it's a special occasion, I want to serve more than just the casserole as I normally do when it's just us. It's chock full of vegetables, so I don't want to make a side of veggies. It has a starch with the potatoes, so I'm not going to make bread to go with it. I thought a simple tossed salad might work even with it being so veggie intense. Other than that, I really can't think of a single other thing to serve with it.

Oh, and I'm planning on putting out a cheese plate (just got back from a road trip that took me through cheese-making country) with some fruit and crackers for before or after the meal. I'm not planning to make dessert as they have blood sugar issues and I'm trying to lose weight.

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Old 06-18-2010, 12:52 PM   #2
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I agree with your plans for a simple tossed green salad. That's absolutely perfect with a complex-ingredient meat pie. Perhaps pick up a nice crusty artisan-type bread to serve with some softened butter - plain or with some herbs blended in.
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:53 PM   #3
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A tossed salad and fruit/cheese platter sounds lovely. How about a special beverage?
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:20 PM   #4
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Thanks for confirming the salad. I serve only 1 starch in a meal and that will be potatoes, so no bread. Drinks will just be water. Normally I'd serve wine, but I'm trying to lose weight and our friends prefer beer in the summertime. It will be hard enough for me to resist the cheese.
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:23 PM   #5
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maybe some lemon slices, cucumber, etc... for the water?
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Old 06-18-2010, 02:07 PM   #6
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nutritionally, you've got a 1-pot meal that pretty much doesn't need anything else, but as far as a special occasion goes, maybe just a plateful of casserole leaves a little to be desired.

you should definitely go with a green salad at a minimum. personally, if i were to serve the casserole, i would like to add a couple of color additions for more visual appeal; maybe something like a baked stuffed tomato and a grilled or sauteed yellow crook-neck summer squash?

for the tomatoes, mince some onion, celery and bacon and saute in a little butter. season to taste, cool and add some bread crumbs and minced parsely. slice off the tops of the tomatoes, scoop out the center and stuff. you could use some ricotta or cottage cheese in the bottom and stuffing on top. they can be baked off along with your casserole.

summer squash can be sliced so that they can be fanned out and make an artistic addition to a plate.

a fruit and cheese platter is very nice,and something which is often overlooked these days. but for a special occasion you could go a little bit further with the fruit without spending too much extra time or turning it into a sugar & fat fest. sauteeing some sliced apples with a little cinnamon, flambee with a little brandy or applejack and serve with a dollop of yogurt. or diced fresh fruits like grapefruit sections, pineapple, raspberries, grapes or what-have-you can be packed into small individual serving sized tupperware and frozen for a tasty and palate-cleansing dessert.

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Old 06-18-2010, 06:05 PM   #7
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OK, I think the green salad is a perfect addition. If you don't want to add a starch then why not serve an extra veggie side? I think some asparagus tossed with some oil and s&p would be easy and look nice. If you're feeling like putting in a bit of work you can wrap them in proscuitto. (Blanch first, wrap, then either do for a few minutes under the broiler or on a grill). Even though the cottage pie has lots of veggies, another veggie side will never go amiss IMO.

(Can I come for dinner? I'm tired and don't feel like cooking and your supper sounds lovely)
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Old 06-18-2010, 06:16 PM   #8
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Simple green salad made up of mixed baby greens (which are in season too!).

Maybe a light dessert such as Granita/Italian Ice to finish it off - very few calories, and perfect for a hot summer day!
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Old 06-18-2010, 07:00 PM   #9
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Yep, I'd go with a nice green salad also. That and the cheese platter should be a great meal.
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Old 06-18-2010, 08:02 PM   #10
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i'm another for your making that salad~ ! the granita (or else a sorbet), i conur, too.
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