Cooking Question

I have about a dozen or so people coming over tomorrow for dinner. I’m making a spinach lasagne (I’m doing that as we speak and then cooking it tomorrow), hot sausage sandwiches, a hearty tossed salad, then a nice fruit salad with strawberries, papaya, pineapple, blackberries, bananas, blueberries, etc. However, it feels like I am missing something and need a vegetable side dish. Figure there is enough starch with the pasta and sandwiches.

What do you think?

113 replies
  1. 1
    megamahan says:

    A nice spinach salad with cranberries, walnuts, and maybe some pears and red onions might tie the lasagna and fruit salad together nicely, but it might also be somewhat redundant. I just love spinach salads. (Caramelizing the pear and onion together makes it even better, though if you go the caramelization route, you may want to switch from red to yellow or white onions.)

  2. 2

    Um, beer?

    ETA: maybe you should ask the business and economics editor of the Atlantic. On second thought, my mom never served a vegetable side with lasagna, just the salad. And she’s a much better cook.

  3. 3
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    What do you think?

    Have everyone bring a dish. You should concentrate on making sure there’s enough alcohol.

  4. 4
    tesslibrarian says:

    Saute some lactino kale with garlic and red pepper flake, or, maybe roast asparagus then top with a little grated parm. Also a nice combination, such as roasted red peppers, onion, and sweet potatoes with oregano and a little balsamic vinegar would be tasty, too.

    Great. Now I’m hungry.

  5. 5
    LM says:

    Asparagus doesn’t add hassle or take time, and if it gets cold people eat it as part of the salad.

    Has anyone here ever offered to take Rosie in exchange for a dinner invitation?

  6. 6
  7. 7
    slag says:

    There is never enough starch. Whole wheat rolls.

  8. 8
    Bill Murray says:

    Food Good

  9. 9
    Kitty says:

    1 lb. flat Italian beans
    4 cloves garlic (fresh)
    6 tbsp. red wine vinegar
    1/4 c. olive oil
    1/4 tsp. salt

    Cook beans in salt water until tender or to taste. Drain. While hot, add garlic, vinegar, olive oil and salt to taste. Can be served with snacks or dinner salad or vegetable. Will keep well.

  10. 10
    bkny says:

    looks pretty damn yummy to me. you might want to add some almonds to the fruit salad. and if you insist on veggies, how about some roasted veggies — cut them up bite size, toss in a mix of garlic paste, olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes. it’s so freaking easy and actually pretty good.

    what are you having to drink.

  11. 11
    MagicPanda says:

    By “spinach lasagne” do you mean lasagne made with green noodles, or do you mean lasagne with actual cooked spinach layered in it?

    Because if it’s the latter, I don’t think you need an additional vegetable.

  12. 12
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @LM: Grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.

    Now I’m hungry too.

  13. 13
    cinesimon says:

    Carrot and Beetroot salad.
    The shizzle, I tells ya.

    Just grate carrots and beetroot at a ratio of about 2-1(more carrot), then dry-fry some sunflower seeds on a pan (constantly stir and never leave them, they are done pretty fast). Just before they’re golden toasted, put a dash of soy sauce in the the pan and stir until the seeds have absorbed the soy – you only want a small amount as too much is far too rich. Cool the seeds and stir them into the carrot and beetroot mixture.
    F’ing tasty.

  14. 14
    Kristine says:

    Roasted veggies are good. Roasting caramelizes the sugars–veggies like carrots get darned sweet. Asparagus is great roasted, and it’s in season.

    Toss veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper. Baking sheet. 400–425F? Lots of recipe online.

  15. 15
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.

    Put some melted mexican cheese in those and they are even better.

  16. 16
    PopeRatzy says:

    2005 Williams Selyem Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir.

  17. 17

    I think your menu sounds pretty complete, actualy, though if it were me I’d also do some garlic bread.

  18. 18
    megamahan says:

    Oh, and throw some avocado and Gorgonzola on the spinach salad.

  19. 19
    dmsilev says:

    @Kristine: I second this suggestion. Add an herb or two to the oil mix (thyme works well) if you’d like. A set of root vegetables (small potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.) makes a nice blend.

  20. 20
    JPL says:

    Blanch asparagus for a minute or two and then marinade in an italian dressing for several hours. With lasagne and sandwiches you can never have to many salads imo.

  21. 21
    guachi says:

    My wife loves roasted asparagus. Put olive oil, salt, pepper on them. Put on baking sheet. Put in oven.

    I’m not sure of time/temp, but my wife loves them.

  22. 22
    Some Guy says:

    This: Zucchini and asparagus

    Or this: Basic brussel sprouts with a splash of lemon, oil, and a sprinkle of parm

  23. 23
    Pooh says:


    I was going to suggest much the same thing except for Swiss chard instead of Kale, maybe a little ginger/soy reduction for a dressing/sauce.

    Or maybe just braise some leeks in a little chicken broth with some scallions or chives.

  24. 24
    joeyess says:

    How about a nice Minestrone?

    And, don’t forget a boatload of Sangria.

  25. 25

    Personally, if I’m having a dozen or so folks over to the house for dinner the last thing I want to be doing is worrying about dinner prep. So for me, a simple menu is best So I can, as @Just Some Fuckhead aptly noted, focus on the wine.


  26. 26
    Maude says:

    I just want chocolate mousse over lady fingers.

    That menu is complete. The spinach is a veg and the salad should be ample.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    My suggestion: an ice cream cake as a side.

    It’s a stupid suggestion, but these are the Intertubes.

  28. 28
    Ben Kirby says:

    Sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic was one suggestion I got here. Stuffed artichokes was another.

    I personally like Brussel’s sprouts, lightly sauteed with some garlic and a bit of oil and sesame seeds, but not everyone goes for that.

  29. 29
    General Stuck says:

    It’s hard to go wrong with a main course of Hillbilly Caviar with a sidedish of Collards and maybe some scratch made corn bread. If you can scare up four or five fried squirrel, or maybe a green bean squirrel parts casserole, can be a crowd pleaser, I suspect in West Virginia, wit similar taste for the cuisine of east Ky.

    My granny used to stir up some frog legs in season. She’d tell me they was a special kind of chicken wing just so I wouldn’t ask too many questions. That didn’t fool me, but they tasted so good, I kept my mouth shut.

  30. 30
    PeakVT says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: 29 alcoholics rated this answer as good.

  31. 31
    Elie says:

    Maybe its me, but I think you have enough food and it should be delicious. In fact, why do you need sausage sandwiches AND lasagna? No matter. You have enough food.
    Think about your wine and other drink pairings and just have a damned good time. Most importantly, YOU be relaxed and have a great time.

  32. 32
    JPL says:

    For asparagus lovers try stir frying seasoned pieces of asparagus (about 2 to 3 inches) with cooked spicy italian sausage slices.

  33. 33
    Jeanine says:

    I think it all sounds great, maybe some bread.

  34. 34
    Ramalamadingdong says:

    stuffed mushrooms. make ahead and cook with the lasagna.

  35. 35
    Genine says:

    I like grilled asparagus. It’s yummy when glazed with butter and dashed lemon pepper.

  36. 36
    John Cole says:

    @MagicPanda: Layering fresh spinach.

  37. 37
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Prolly not gonna be able to make it John, so don’t worry about not having enough.

  38. 38
    Houston Bridges says:

    My lasagna has a layer of spinach in it making sandwiches somewhat redundant. To each his own.

  39. 39
    Frank says:

    Just get some Fava beans with a nice chianti

  40. 40
    Phil says:

    John Cole, I see your blog has become the latest liberal repository for believing we should do nothing about entitlements to get our budget deficits under control.

    Of course, doing this will bankrupt the country regardless of whether 5% of 55% of the public doesn’t want to cut entitlement spending. Screaming “Tax the rich!” doesn’t even put much of a dent in the deficit. There aren’t enough rich people. But I realize most liberals are not particularly intelligent and your audience is no exception.

    But nonetheless, stupid does sell and it’s a lot easier to promise people a free pony than to NOT promise people a free pony. But you should know better, and your favorite number 1 reader Paul Krugman definitely does know better. Before he became a partisan hack, a financial adviser to Enron, and kinda gremlin looking, Paul Krugman actually used to be an economist. He even talked about…reining in entitlements. Seriously, go look it up.

    Nonetheless, perhaps we’ll, as is usual, do nothing, and people like you who know better will continue to tell the morons, “No really, you can STILL have your free pony!”

    And of course, everyone who knows anything about the long term finances of Medicare and Social Security knows that’s bullshit squared. So we’ll go bankrupt or print currency until it’s worthless, and sure enough, there won’t be a free pony after all. Only people won’t have prepared for that eventuality because assholes like you told them it would be there. But it won’t.

    And at that point, we’ll be naming names of people who said otherwise.

    People like YOU John Cole. There’s snake oil salesman and then there are people like you and Krugman. See you in hell assholes.

  41. 41
    kamalokitty says:

    Wine is missing. I think you’re good with the veggies. You could make an artichoke, spinach dip for appetizer with pita or crackers and/or raw veggies. Or if you really want another veg side, I’d go with the roasted mixed veggies. Sounds yum. Have a great party!

  42. 42
    Colleen says:

    Sounds fine as is. I wouldn’t add a thing.

  43. 43

    @General Stuck: marry me? ok, maybe i’m not your type. :)

  44. 44
    JPL says:

    Obama must be happy tonight since the Bulls are rolling over the Hawks. As a GA, I disagree with the president about his choice in teams.

  45. 45
    General Stuck says:


    You could stick an apple in Phil’s mouth and roast the motherfucker. Roasted wingnut ain’t half bad with extra catsup. I bet he’s nice and plump with purdy pink cheeks. Should be enough to feed a dozen.

  46. 46
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I’m an ordained minister and I’d be honored to marry you two crazy kids.

  47. 47
    p.a. says:

    @guachi: Yes. let me be about the 10th in this thread to say roast asparagus. S&P,olive oil before, lemon juice when done. Parm is good also. Or try parm crackers. 1Tbsp grated parm per cracker, the real stuff, I don’t know if the green tube stuff will work. Pour them on parchment on a baking sheet, spread them out to about the size of a 1/2 dollar. Leave space between. Top w/black pepper or paprika if desired. 350deg.F about 10 min. (watch ’em they will burn). When still warm you can shape them like cups etc. to hold stuff also.

  48. 48
    JPL says:

    @General Stuck: Can we assume that he has already been marinating in wine?

  49. 49

    @Phil: I say this with all sincerity, Phil, when I say STFU with your austerity bullshit. And if I see you in hell, I’ll punch you in the fucking neck.

  50. 50
    Ken says:

    Vegetable side dish? I’d suggest either roasted cauliflower or roasted broccoli. Cut veggie into floret-size pieces and put on baking sheet. Finely slice/crush some garlic, sprinkle with olive oil,black pepper and roast in oven until just a bit crispy.

    Another side would be roasted brussel sprouts. Again, on baking sheet, slice sprouts in two, season with garlic/black pepper as above and add pistachios prior to roasting.

    You should go online to get the particulars, but this is the gist of it. Good luck.

  51. 51
    fasteddie9318 says:

    I’m with everyone who said asparagus. Delicious roasted or steamed, very little effort, and isn’t this the right time of year for it?

  52. 52
    Waratah says:

    Great menu. You have meat lovers and vegetarians covered,
    should be able to have all prepared with very little to do when your guests arrive. If you decide to add anything make sure you can prepare ahead of time.

  53. 53
    Ken says:

    @Phil: And the vegetable side dish is where, in this rant? Someone seems to be in the hootch pretty seriously at 8:45.

  54. 54

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Really? cool. i’m just licensed to preach, but I’ve already married a couple of ppl IRL.

  55. 55
    Joel says:

    no pun intended, but roasted cole vegetables are 1) delicious 2) easy 3) healthy.

    the cook’s illustrated crew made a recipe for roasted broccoli which is awesome, and it only takes slight modifications to adopt it to, say, brussels sprouts and the like.

  56. 56
    PeakVT says:

    Somebody definitely needs to wind down from the workweek.

  57. 57
    Just Some Fuckhead says:


    Really? cool. i’m just licensed to preach, but I’ve already married a couple of ppl IRL.

    Maybe we could have an Open Marriage Thread, do everyone at one time.

  58. 58
    slag says:


    See you in hell assholes.


  59. 59
    p.a. says:

    why the hell is my comment on roast asparagus and parigiano crackers in moderation??!!

  60. 60
    Dissatisfied Customer says:

    You’ve got enough. Maybe some peppers for the sandwiches.

  61. 61
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @slag: Not if we see him first.

  62. 62
  63. 63
    Mothra says:

    I agree, you need a hot vegetable side dish, and the green beans that Kitty described would be a very good way to go.

    Do you have a dessert and coffee course? Because you can get spumoni ice cream at the store, and store bought biscotti and coffee would really make a nice dessert course.

  64. 64
    General Stuck says:


    Every two months or so, little baby jeevus sticks it’s thumb up Phil’s ass, and he comes by with a diatribe of dumbass scolding John Cole’s joining the devil libtards with all the blasphemy blather. Been going on like this for years. you could almost set your clock to it. I imagine John Barleycorn plays a role as well.

  65. 65
    p.a. says:

    Yes. let me be about the 10th in this thread to say roast asparagus. S&P,olive oil before, lemon juice when done. Parm is good also. Or try parm crackers. 1Tbsp grated parm per cracker, the real stuff, I don’t know if the green tube stuff will work. Pour them on parchment on a baking sheet, spread them out to about the size of a 1/2 dollar. Leave space between. Top w/black pepper or paprika if desired. 350deg.F about 10 min. (watch ‘em they will burn). When still warm you can shape them like cups etc. to hold stuff also.

  66. 66

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Maybe we could have an Open Marriage Thread, do everyone at one time.

    The writing of the various vows would kill it ded.

  67. 67
    eemom says:

    damn, must be nice to be John Cole — an instant army of helpful responders for every question and occasion. And all from a motley crew of vitriolic jackals who are just barely worth the effort of trolling.

  68. 68
  69. 69
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @General Stuck: I should tell the story about the first time Phil showed up, a raving fucking socia1ist, one of John’s first converts to the conservative dark side. I think that’s why he can’t let it go.

  70. 70
    CatHairEverywhere says:

    That menu sounds great! The only thing it is lacking is chocolate. or ice cream. Or both.

  71. 71
    CatHairEverywhere says:

    Roasted asparagus is pretty damn good, though. We cook it on the barbeque when it’s too hot to heat up the house.

  72. 72
    slag says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Seriously.

    I can’t tell exactly what it is, but there’s a certain self-important tenor combined with a complete lack of self-awareness that makes someone totally sound like classic movie villain. I’m slightly surprised he didn’t end it with “You can’t handle the truth!”. Maybe it’s just too many comic books for that dude.

  73. 73
    Lydgate says:

    No, You need dessert.

  74. 74
    Monkeyfister says:

    Grilled Asparagus.

    Yes. In season, and delicious.

  75. 75
    Maude says:

    Is there a reception? Who cooks for that and do we have to dress up or comb out hair?

  76. 76
    Mothra says:

    That method of asparagus cooking is very good.

    I believe the general consensus is that you need something green other than the salad.

    Either that, or Michelle Obama is posting here under about 50 different names.

  77. 77
    RossInDetroit says:

    Parsnips in ginger/butter sauce.

  78. 78
    becca says:

    I like the roasted asparagus. Sauteed artichokes would be nice, but lots more work. Actually, your menu is really complete, so screw it. You’ve got a lot of color and texture on the table and that’s the key.

    But you absolutely must have a crusty loaf for the non-snausage sandwich eaters.

    More starch, I know.

  79. 79

    @General Stuck:

    I hesitate to ask, but what is Hillbilly Caviar? Husband is from rural Kentucky, I live in Tennessee, and neither of us knows.

  80. 80


    Is there a reception? Who cooks for that and do we have to dress up or comb out hair?

    Since it’s a BJ thread, I’m assuming no. although if you come with a trumpover, expect maximum mockage.

  81. 81
  82. 82
    goblue72 says:

    Hot sausages. Tossed salad. Bowl of fruits. How about some Judy Garland and Diana Ross?

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist. I have an 8 year olds sense of humor.

  83. 83
    Some Guy says:

    Actually, raw asparagus is pretty awesome. Crunchy, earthy, dresses beautifully with lemon mayo or just lime and salt. Love it ooked but raw is awesome if you want some nice veg to contrast heavy stuff.

  84. 84
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    What do you think?

    I think my invite must’ve gotten lost in the mail because I never got it. Right, John? Right?

  85. 85
    Sue says:

    What do I think? I think you need to mix things up a bit, with maybe some special guests from Alabama.

    Dang, that’s one tasty sounding menu!

  86. 86
    Ruckus says:

    @General Stuck:
    Are you trying to poison us? Roast wingnut? Really?
    I’ve eaten a lot of different things, some were weird, some I’ve been told not to ask what they were, Ever. But roast wingnut? That’s a step way too far.

  87. 87
    LM says:

    @Some Guy:

    Actually,raw asparagus is pretty awesome

    Do you have a recipe for that? (Rimshot noise.)

  88. 88
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I agree with Phil. We need to crack down on the #1 entitlement program that is run in this country today.

    That is, the inherit a fortune from your parents entitlement program.

    If we didn’t have this program in place, Donald Trump would be doing something more appropriate for his skill level, like assistant manager at a Wendy’s.

  89. 89
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Cole, why the hell don’t you have a girlfriend? Seriously. You cook; you clean (nekkid, even!); you’re a mushpot for animals; you earn a decent living; you run a pretty well-known blog; you have a great sense of humor.

    For realz. You need to get hooked up.

    P.S. Instead of peak wingnut, I think we have piqued wingnuts. Ugh.

    @arguingwithsignposts: Wanna borrow my rusty pitchfork?

  90. 90
    Nikita says:

    Cole’s having people over for dinner? Err…where’s my invite?

  91. 91
    Ruckus says:

    You bringing refreshments? Cause that sounds like it would be a very long line.

  92. 92
    Calming Influence says:

    “However, it feels like I am missing something…”

    Arugula and quiche?

  93. 93
    Svensker says:

    Roasted veg or crudites with dip. Easy peasy and fun to snack on.

  94. 94
    Jay C says:

    Since virtually everybody else has covered asparagus, broccoli rabe, and roast stuff, the only thing I would add is to suggest grilled peppers – red, yellow or orange for color: seed, slice, grill over fire while occasionally spraying with oil ( I use Olive Oil PAM, it works just fine) till cooked or crunchy to taste.

  95. 95
    Calming Influence says:

    “However, it feels like I am missing something…”

    A case of Zima?

  96. 96
    Ruckus says:

    How bout sliced grilled mexican zucchini? Little olive oil, salt/pepper to taste, grill. Somewhat sweet and real tasty.

    Or even better, fried zucchini flowers. Lightly dipped in beaten egg, pan fried over med heat. Yummmm.

  97. 97
    biscuits says:

    Crudite? Sounds yummy.

  98. 98
    Calming Influence says:

    “However, it feels like I am missing something…”


    (I kid, I kid!)

  99. 99
    p.a. says:

    @Calming Influence:


    Hence asparagus, a most phallic food.

  100. 100
    dsc says:

    saute’ed shredded zuchinni–in a little olive oil and garlic–saute slowly in a heavy skillet. About one zuke per person (it shrinks down) — everyone in my family loves this

    good coffee and, since it’s derby day, strawberries dippped in kentucky bourbon then powdered sugar

  101. 101
    Genghis says:

    Roasted brussel sprouts. Brush a little olive oil on them and roast in the oven until some of the outer leaves are crunchy. Maybe some garlic salt. Trust me.


  102. 102
    Corner Stone says:

    @Calming Influence:

    A case of Zima?

    Oooo…ouch. That should sting.

  103. 103
    cleek says:

    how bout a nice chunk of hash. put that in the vape and let your guests get down on it.

  104. 104
    David Marotta says:

    @David Marotta: I so agree with this comment!!

  105. 105
    FreeAtLast says:


    Actually, that makes me think of succotash, which I view as a starch-veggie blend: corn kernels tossed with lima beans, and I throw in some tiny grape tomatoes as well. I find that this placates the inevitable guest or two who think salads are just bunny food. Need to go on-line to find the best way to lightly dress this.

  106. 106
    Jennifer says:

    Late to the party, but here’s 2 easy veg sides:

    Steam asparagus; immediately after it’s done sprinkle with shredded parmesan, salt & pepper.

    Option 2: Steam green beans; while beans are steaming, warm some toasted sesame oil in a skillet and lightly brown some slivered almonds; when beans are done steaming, add them to the skillet & toss lightly to coat with the oil. Salt lightly.

    Ok, here’s a third: brown garlic in oil, then add baby spinach and cook just until it wilts. No seasonings needed.

  107. 107
    Froley says:

    Not really a side, but I really like these two appetizers: baked kale leaves (kale, olive oil and sea salt) and julienned peppers with hummus. If it’s warm weather, maybe a cold soup — cucumber with mint or corn chowder are two of my favorite summer soups.

  108. 108
    Kristine says:

    @Genghis: Made them today, with grilled ribeye and mashed potatoes.

    I really do love roasted sprouts. Call it a weakness.

  109. 109
    JR says:

    If you’ve already got the grill going, slice lengthwise some squash and zucchini, lightly brush with a balsamic vinaigrette, and grill.

  110. 110
    Yutsano says:


    Or try parm crackers. 1Tbsp grated parm per cracker, the real stuff, I don’t know if the green tube stuff will work.

    It won’t. Parmigano reggiano develops a particular crystalline structure as it ages that allows tricks like the parm cracker thing to work. Parmesan is made by a slightly different process and not aged as long.

  111. 111
    debbie says:

    Slap some mascarpone on an asparagus spear, wrap in some prosciutto, and grill or broil until brown and toasty.

  112. 112
    chopper says:

    Kale chips. That is all.

  113. 113
    cleek says:

    i’ve been digging sauteed sprouts. chop em up into ribbons, saute in butter with some bacon, shallot and a touch of crushed red pepper.

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