A second post, that is.
Last night I tried serving soup first, in this case a bean soup; and that didn't seem to Mark and me to have quite as much utility as serving vegetables first.
On the other hand, it certainly fulfilled the rule that one should eat the leftovers one already has before creating new ones. The bean soup was eaten instead of lingering for another day. And I did have it (along with bread) on the table when we sat down, which helped a bit with the pacing. But I had to hop up midway through and toss the salad, which was less relaxing.
I think in the future I'll stick with vegetable starters.
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So, I did a little research on French websites to get a list of simple vegetable entrées (using italics here to highlight that I am using the word in the French sense, meaning "starter," i.e., "entry into the meal," and not the English meaning of "main dish").
That was fun -- I don't know why I don't do that more often. Here are some of the websites I looked at:
- La cuisine d'Annie (Annie's Kitchen)-- Food and recipe blog associated with a newsmagazine
- Toutes les recettes (All recipes) -- Not, I think, the same as Allrecipes.com
- Koocook -- Includes a weekly menu planner
- Manger Bouger (Eat, Move) -- French government's healthy eating website, includes a menu planner
- Marmiton -- General recipe site
Anyway, here's what French websites offer as suggested starters. These include some that are quite out of season now, by the way.
- Melon slices with olives and parma ham
- Sliced raw tomato drizzled with dressing
- Salad of diced, cold cooked beets on a bed of lettuce with dressing
- Cold beet soup
- Leek and potato soup, with or without cream
- Chopped orange-fennel salad
- Grated carrots with lemon dressing
- Onion-spinach-orange salad
- Grated apple and fennel slaw
- Avocado slices with tuna and herbs
- Salad of tender lettuce and corn
- Skillet of green beans and leeks
- Celeriac and apple salad
- Cooked cold leeks in vinaigrette
- Crunchy slaw of cabbage and Granny Smith apples
- Corn in vinaigrette (boy, I'd want some diced bell pepper with that)
- Endive and corn salad
- Marinated mushrooms
- Kiwifruit and cold cooked shrimp
- Roasted broccoli salad
Slightly more complicated suggestions included:
- Quiche with tomatoes, chèvre, and basil (not sure what you'd follow that up with... but I guess if they were small slices and you were having a main-dish salad or light pasta)
- Custard of zucchini and smoked salmon, served cold
- Puff pastries stuffed with apple and comté cheese
But I don't have to make a lot of new things in order to have starters. Plenty of my ordinary side dishes and salads work just as well as a first course. We have carottes râpées, dressed with nothing but lemon juice and salt, all the time. Cole slaw of various types, too. Almost any salad that isn't a main-dish type of salad. Green beans stewed in tomatoes and onions -- one of my favorite crock-pot recipes -- makes a great starter, especially if there isn't much available per person, and you strew a little feta cheese on top.
Just some idea.