Wednesday, May 25, 2011

{ Simple Ways to Dress Up Your Dinner : Veggies }

Are you stuck in a rut having the same thing for dinner week after week? Here are a few quick and easy ways to "dress up" your dinner with some hopefully new to you ideas for preparing your veggies.

Side Salads: For the longest time a side salad for us was greens, carrots, cherry tomatoes and if we had energy or time to chop we'd maybe add some cucumbers, etc. But here is a much quicker, easier variation; a delicious side salad dress up:


Salad Greens (bagged or chop a head of lettuce)
Fruit (apples, pears, berries or oranges)
Nuts (walnuts or pecans)
Cheese (feta or blue cheese)
Vinaigrette (my favorite is Breanna's Blush Vinaigrette, it has a strawberry on the front. UPDATE: here is a link to my new favorite Honey Garlic Vinaigrette; it's just as tasty as Brianna's, easy to make and much cheaper.)

1) If you're having apple or pear, slice it. Here's a super easy way to do it:
Cut around the core. If you're using the whole apple, you'll be left with a square.
Lay the flat part against the cutting surface and slice.

2) Now throw your salad greens in a large serving bowl, individual bowls, or an individual plate as pictured below.

3) Sprinkle cheese and nuts over the greens (for a family salad you only need about 2 tbsp each of cheese and nuts).

4) Place the fruit on top.

5) Drizzle with dressing and serve!

(From the ingredient picture to the finished product, I spent only 4 minutes - including taking the pictures.)

Veggies: We used to just steam or microwave all of our veggies unless we had a specific recipe to do something else. Here are a couple of quick prep "dress ups" for your veggies:

You can really roast about anything even broccoli and cauliflower, those were new to me.

1) Before you start dinner preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get the vegetables roasting while you're cooking because they will take 25-30 minutes.

2) Prep veggies (trim asparagus / green beans, cut broccoli / cauliflower , etc.) and wash.

3) Toss veggies with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper (any other spices you'd like).

4)  Roast for 25-30 minutes

Cauliflower Poppers : cauliflower, olive oil, salt, chili powder and cumin. (The Six O'clock Scramble)
We've recently started eating things like carrots for dinner, we didn't do that in the past. Here are a few ideas:

Sweet Veggies:
Peel and slice carrots / yams / sweet potatoes. Saute with maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Clean any greens (chard, beet greens, kohlrabi greens, spinach) wilt or sauté in 1 tsp olive oil. Serve with balsamic vinegar. You can also mix this up by throwing in some Craisins or golden raisins while sautéing.

Prep pretty much any veggie from broccoli to potatoes, wrap them in foil and grill. When cooked, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix your grilled veggies up by also tossing them with some cheese (parmesan or feta) or some citrus (squeeze in some lemon or lime, use lemon pepper seasoning instead of salt and pepper).

Whoever said raw veggies and dip were just for parties, lunch and kids. Cut up some carrots, peppers, cucumbers, etc. and serve with (or without) a dip. Ranch is an old favorite, but you can mix it up with hummus or peanut butter too.


Image taken from 21st Century Collaborative - Fruits of Labor

Fruit isn't  just for breakfast, lunch or snacks it's also a great accompaniment/dessert for dinner.

Serve a melon or other fruit with vanilla yogurt or honey to dip it in.

Make smoothies. Blend 1 banana, 1 c berries, 1 c yogurt and 1 c orange juice and you should have a family sized smoothie to go with dinner. If it's too tart, sweeten it with a touch of honey.

Or throw together a simple fruit salad. Chop up whatever fruit you have and toss it together with 1 tbsp of orange juice to blend the flavors.

I hope that these are some new ways to change things up at dinner time and make eating your "veggies" more fun. What are some easy and tasty ways that you serve veggies or fruit at dinner time?

(I've gathered a lot of the basics of these simple ideas for dressing up dinner from The Six O'clock Scramble, an online meal planning service that I've been using since January. Aviva, the author, makes a five meal plan each week and attaches the recipes and grocery list, we've loved the variety and I've loved not spending an hour or two meal planning and making a grocery list each week. There are lots of other great features to the site and subscription, but I'll let you check those out yourself. Should you choose to subscribe to SOS, please put Jessica Winter down as your referral because I get a free month added to my subscription when you do.)

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