Superfast Side-Dish Recipes
Make a side to match any kind of main in 20 minutes or less with these great recipes.
The crisp, fresh green beans and smooth, tender potatoes create nice texture contrast, and the easy sauce is a good match for nearly any main-dish flavor. It would make an especially great side for roasted chicken, whether our five-star homemade version or time-saving rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.
Bitter greens like broccoli rabe make a good counterpoint to rich, creamy cold-weather dishes. This dish has a sort-of-Italian feel, but you can substitute a little chopped canned chipotle pepper for the red pepper and better match Mexican and Southwestern dishes, or use sesame oil and Sriracha for Asian ones.
This filling dish comes together in just 20 minutes. Peeled and diced butternut squash helps speed the prep for this side, simply dressed with salt, pepper, butter, pecans, and fresh sage.
The key to great Brussels sprouts is to cook them a very short time or a very long time―you want to either maintain their fresh crispness or slowly caramelize their natural sugars. This recipe takes the short route, cooking the whole dish in just nine minutes. Crisp, salty, meaty, pan-fried prosciutto balances the sprouts' vegetal character, and a simple lemon-butter dressing brightens the flavor. Try this dish with a quick soup or stew for a great winter dinner.
The sweetness and tartness of citrus provides a nice respite from the earthy and hearty flavors of most other winter produce. This simple dish dresses raw orange and red onion with just olive oil for a nice, light flavor whose acidity and pungency make an excellent counterpoint to cold-weather dishes made from fattier cuts of meat, such as beef stew.
Our basic recipe for Creamy Potato Salad is scrumptious as is. If you're looking to spice things up, try one of our three variations: Sour Cream-Dill, German-Style, and Lemon-Herb.
For more tender zucchini, leave slices in the pan an extra 1 minute on each side. When the flesh starts to look translucent, the zucchini is done. To spice up this basic recipe try one of our three variations: Parmigiano-crumbed, Caprese "Salsa", or Mint Gremolata.
Miso is a thick soybean paste with a salty, slightly sweet flavor. Look for it in the refrigerated part of the produce section or with the dairy products, or substitute soy sauce.
This recipe is not only quick, but also versatile. Try one of our three variations to spice things up: raisin and pine nut, sesame-ginger glazed, or lemon-tarragon.
Try our basic recipe and you will find a your new favorite side dish. Try one of our variations like Lemon and Pecan; Sesame, Garlic, and Ginger; and Garlic and Pecorino and you will find there are limitless possiblities for this dinnertime standby.
Try one of our variations on this basic recipe. Mix with cooked farfalle pasta to make Spinach-Pasta Salad. Try increasing the garlic to three thinly sliced cloves, heat the vinaigrette over medium-high heat and saute with onion and garlic for two minutes before tossing in fresh spinach to create Wilted Spinach. Another option, microwave 4 (6-ounce) Yukon gold potatoes for 13 minutes or until tender, prepare wilted spinach before dividing among potatoes. Then top each with 1 1/2 tablespoons crumbled feta for Spinach Baked Potatoes.
This impressive-looking dish is easy and fast, and thanks to the pungent onion and meaty Parmesan, it has big flavor. Zucchini works just as well as yellow squash here, but be gentle when stirring so you don't break the ribbons. A grilled meat, especially pork or beef, is the best kind of main dish for this side.
Take a quick jaunt to the south of France with this fiber-rich, no-cook salad. Fresh herbs and the powerful flavor of olives mellow the earthiness of chickpeas, making a dish that tastes lighter than it looks. Make the salad a few hours ahead if you can; the longer it marinates in the dressing, the more flavorful it will be. This dish completes a vegetarian meal nicely when paired with a quick meatless main like pasta or grilled portobellos.
This salad tastes fresh, fresh, fresh, with a hint of tangy creaminess from the crème fraîche that also makes it feel indulgent. It's a perfect summertime dish since it relies on the sweetness of fresh green beans and tomatoes, so you should serve a summery entrée alongside it.
Healthy doses of bitter arugula, fresh mint, and salty pecorino keep these peas interesting. Fresh green peas have amazing flavor, but if you don't feel like shelling, or if they're out of season, you can thaw out some frozen ones. The salad pairs best with an entrée that's meaty but not too heavy, like a sautéed pork dish.
Huge flavor and an edible container make this dish perfect for a casual potluck or picnic, or a workday lunch. But with or without its lettuce-leaf cups, this Mediterranean salad becomes the highlight of whatever meal it's a part. Serve with grilled kebabs of any kind, such as this one, which uses the same pomegranate-orange dressing as the salad.
Protein- and iron-rich kale is unique among greens in that it retains some crispness and crunch even after long cooking. This dish takes just 15 minutes and doesn't need much effort once it gets started, so you can tend to the main course while it cooks. A superfast chicken dish makes a good main, and lets you put a full home-cooked meal on the table in about 20 minutes.
Eating edamame straight out of the pods is a great snack, but the little bean's culinary possibilities go far beyond that. When pureed, it makes a smooth and flavorful dip that here adds white beans for sophisticated flavor (you can use chickpeas instead for a more hummus-like dip). Try it with sliced fresh veggies before your next entrée―it'll make family dinner feel more like a cocktail party.
Don't be intimidated by the beautiful curling ribbons of asparagus―all you need to create them is a vegetable peeler. This no-cook recipe highlights the fresh flavor of asparagus with creamy and tangy goat cheese, and is a wonderful springtime dish. Try it with chicken―a great partner for spring flavors.
Meat isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind to pair with fruit, but salty, chewy prosciutto and sweet, juicy honeydew and cantaloupe are a magical combination that's a staple of the antipasto platter. This salad works nicely as either an appetizer before or a dessert after a superfast Italian pasta.
A simple fruit salad dressed with yogurt and jam, this recipe is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen―they'll love its sweet flavor, and even a toddler can help stir together the dressing and toss it with the fruit. Even out of season, the salad will remind you of summer, so pair it with a superfast summery or grilled recipe.
This six-minute side is amazingly versatile: Try red onion or shallot in place of leek, and any tender, quick-cooking vegetable―broccoli, bell pepper, green beans, or whatever's on hand―for the squash. The tangy feta makes a good contrast with any light-bodied main course, such as these superfast recipes for halibut and salmon.
The mayonnaise-laden (and usually store-bought) version of this slaw is a popular picnic food. Our healthier version uses a lemon-maple vinaigrette and adds juicy pineapple for extra interest. Make it a day or two ahead for a picnic or tailgate, or pair with grilled anything―pork chops, steaks, burgers, or bratwurst.
Also known as baby broccoli, Broccolini has a very similar flavor to its close cousin broccoli, but its long, thin stalks make it nice and crunchy. With ginger and mirin, this dish has Asian flavors, but its best partner would be a noodle dish from anywhere in the world.
This four-minute, ridiculously easy recipe yields surprising flavor. And it's adaptable to any menu: Make as-is with Mediterranean dishes, swap in sesame oil for olive with an Asian entrée, or sub finely chopped ancho chile for the red pepper flakes with Mexican mains.
If you can't find precooked farro, substitute precooked or boil-in-bag brown rice. Start with our basic recipe and then try one of our tasty variations: Tomato and Cucumber; Basil and Corn; or Onion, Feta, and Bell Pepper.
Sweet golden raisins and nutty roasted garlic pair beautifully with broccoli rabe. Try one of our variations: Broccoli Rabe with Polenta Croutons, Broccoli Rabe with Sesame and Soy, or Broccoli Rabe with White Beans and Parmesan.
Instead of mint, tarragon or basil would be equally delicious. If desired, top with fresh lemon rind for a little extra zing. Try one of our variations: Red Pepper and Pesto Green Beans, Ginger-Sesame Green Beans, or Green Beans with Stewed Tomatoes and Spices.
This simple side may be just the ticket to get you past your childhood aversion to cauliflower. The dijon-cider vinaigrette is what really seals the deal.
Drizzled with a simple vinaigrette, this side salad comes together in minutes. To save even more time, you can finely shred the brussels sprouts with a food processor.
View Recipe: Pecan and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprout Salad
This easy-to-make side salad gets its full flavor from a combination of multigrain penne pasta, bitter radicchio pieces and fresh grated pecorino Romano cheese.
Need a last minute side to complete your favorite main dish? This endive salad with homemade vinaigrette comes together in just two simple steps.