Southerners love a good “meat and three”—a meat entrée and three sides. The truth is, though, lots of folks skip the meat and the just get the three . . . or four or five sides, which is then commonly referred to as a “veggie plate.” We’re overlooking the fact that in the South, potatoes, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and creamed corn (every one of them starches) all fall into the category of vegetables. Sides are king in the South, whether starches or vegetables.
This time of year, vegetable plates are especially lush, containing ripe Bradley tomatoes, delicate new potatoes, squash, okra, greens and field peas. Gussy them up with Southern staples—country ham and pimiento cheese—and dinner is served. Whether your veggie plate holds three starches or three vegetables, fresh and seasonal is the key. And with the bounty of the Southern farmers’ market, who needs meat?
Lady Peas with Bacon and Corn
Any variety of field pea will work in this recipe, including lima beans.
2 cups shelled lady peas (or any field peas or lima beans)
4 ears corn, cooked
4 bacon slices or country ham
2 shallots or green onions
1. Place peas in a medium saucepan. Cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until crisp-tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.
2. Cut kernels from ears of corn.
3. Place bacon in large skillet. Cook until crisp and browned. Remove from pan and crumble. Discard all drippings except 2 tablespoons.
4. Return pan to heat. Add shallots; sauté 5 minutes. Add peas, corn and bacon. Heat thoroughly. Serves 4.
Per serving: 250 calories, 5g fat, 5mg chol., 9g prot., 42g carbs, 11g fiber, 105mg sodium.
Garlicky Grilled Patty Pan Squash
With their round shape, patty pan squash are perfect for the grill.
6 patty pan squash, cut into halves horizontally
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare grill.
2. Toss squash with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place on grill rack. Cook until browned, about 6 minutes on each side. Serves 4.
Per serving: 120 calories, 8g fat, 0mg chol., 4g prot., 11g carbs., 4g fiber, 250mg sodium.
Pimiento Cheese Spoon Bread
Use your favorite store-bought pimiento cheese in this savory spoon bread—a soft, soufflé-like side dish.
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons cornmeal, divided
1 1/2 cups 2 percent reduced-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 eggs, separated
3 ounces pimiento cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a 1-quart soufflé dish with cooking spray; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cornmeal.
2. Combine 1/2 cup cornmeal, milk, salt and black pepper in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until thick, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
3. Gradually whisk egg yolks and pimiento cheese into cornmeal mixture. Pour into a large bowl; let cool completely.
4. Beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cornmeal mixture. Spoon batter into prepared dish. Bake 1 hour, or until puffy and browned. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Per serving: 200 calories, 10g fat, 180mg chol., 10g prot., 17g carbs., 1g fiber, 360mg sodium