Balancing the Richness
Silky, luxurious roast beef tastes delicious, but it needs sides that balance its richness with bright flavors or light textures. Fresh vegetables, bright salads and spicy garlic fit the bill, as do citrus flavors. Opt for colorful side dishes for both nutrition and a visual appeal, or go with traditional and classic sides that mirror the celebratory nature of a roast beef dinner.
Beef is rich and dense, so introduce it with an green salad as a nutritional and colorful counterpoint to the main course. A fresh garden salad with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers is a good choice. Add some fresh spinach leaves to the salad for extra iron and nutrients, or a little arugula for a peppery touch, and finish with a light ranch dressing. Pasta salad, apple and carrot salad, cucumber salad, and broccoli salad also pair well with roast beef.
Potatoes or Rice
Mashed or roasted potatoes are traditional side dishes on a roast beef menu. Spice things up by adding garlic, cheese, sour cream, or kale and olive oil to the potatoes. Potatoes au gratin, baked potatoes, and boiled potatoes with a little butter and salt are other good alternatives for serving with roast beef. To keep the meal lighter still, skip the potatoes altogether and serve rice instead. Try adding rice pilaf, long grain rice with butter, or chickpeas and rice to the menu.
A side dish of vegetables is another good way to lighten up a heavy roast beef meal. Corn, peas or green beans tossed with creamy dressing are quick, simple additions. For more complex flavor, try carrots steamed with honey, green beans cooked with white wine and garlic, asparagus with walnut dressing, or glazed eggplant. In addition to adding variety and color to the menu, vegetables provide vitamins and nutrients not found in many other foods.
Dinner rolls or slices of homemade bread can balance out all the strong flavors of beef and vegetables. On the other hand, sourdough, fresh sweet bread or whole grain bread can add flavor. While not necessary to complete a roast beef dinner, bread complements the rest of the menu well. For a richer option, consider cornbread or even corn muffins served with butter flavored with green onion dip mix.
Fruit or Dessert
For a light sweet treat without refined sugar, add fresh fruit or a fruit salad to the menu. Serve sliced strawberries or peaches with whipped cream as a graceful way to top off the meal. Mixed fruit also makes a good dessert, such as chunks of cantaloupe and honeydew mixed with grapes and sliced pears. Traditional desserts that work well with roast beef include pudding, cream pie, fruit pie or sorbet.