The Secret to a Good Vegetable Plate

We have been taking full advantage of the beautiful bounty of fresh summer vegetables readily available at our local farmer’s markets lately.  Not just for a juicy tomato sandwich, or for a savory side of sauteed squash (bonus points for alliteration!), but for the real gift of the Southern summer– a vegetable plate!

There is hardly a vegetable that I don’t like, so I could have a plate FULL and be happy for dinner.  BUT, there is definitely a difference between a good vegetable plate for dinner, and a great one.  One that will qualify as a meal, and one that will really satisfy.  One that will work for a vegetarian, versus one that is good enough for a meat and potatoes kind of eater!  And I have figured out what makes the difference.

A plate full of veggies all cooked the same way is no fun, and a plate of raw crudite is boring too.  But a plate of several different vegetables- different varieties, textures, colors, and preparations makes for a great vegetable plate!

When I make a vegetable plate for dinner, I like to to do 4 or 5 vegetables, all prepared differently.  I try to pick a variety-something served raw, something sauteed, something roasted and/or something fried (so it’s crispy), maybe a bread, something starchy (maybe a pasta or grain too), maybe a casserole or something baked, a cold salad, and other greens.  A combination of five different options makes for the best vegetable plates.

If you are at a loss as to what to serve, here are some options for each variety:

Served Raw
#1 pick is always sliced tomatoes for the summertime!  Basically a mealtime staple.
Cucumber salad
Fruit!

Sauteed
Zucchini
Squash
Corn
Green Beans
Mushrooms
English Peas
Apples
Okra and Tomatoes
Creamed Corn

Roasted
Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Squash
Beets
Carrots
Asparagus
Brussels Sprouts
Okra
Broccoli
Cauliflower

Fried
Okra
Potatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes

Starchy
Mashed Potatoes
Rice
Butter Beans/Lima Beans
Pinto Beans
Black Beans
Field Peas
Orzo Salad
Black Eyed Peas
Grits
Baked Beans

Bread
Biscuits
Dinner Rolls
Cornbread
Blueberry Muffins
Banana Bread
Focaccia
Squash Fritters

Casseroles
Macaroni and Cheese
Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Squash Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Hashbrown Casserole
Scalloped Potatoes

Cold Salads
Traditional Pasta Salad
Potato Salad
Spaghetti Salad
Macaroni Salad
Coleslaw

Greens
Kale
Turnip Greens
Collard Greens
Mustard Greens
Cabbage

Do you like vegetable plates for dinner?  I’d love to know your favorite combinations!

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