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On Your Mark, Get Set...COOK!



Like many working families, my wife and I struggle putting a healthy, well-balanced meal on the table on a nightly basis what with the time constraints of work hours for us and homework/extra-curricular activities for the kids. As a matter of fact, I imagine that most weeknights, we dedicate about a 1/2-hour to the production and consumption of dinner. Pretty pathetic I know, but that’s what obsessive little-league parents do. Put off the things that matter around the house and basically transform their lives into a shuttle-service for their kids for months on end.

And given the fact that we have picky eater kids, we either prepare them their own meal or we spend dinner in a Mexican standoff seeing who will blink first if we try to get them to eat the “grown-up” meal (i.e. the one that includes green vegetables). And really, no one has the stomach for that on a nightly basis. I mean as much a I want my kids to enjoy a variety of delicious and healthy foods, I also want them to not see the dinner table as a place of misery and despair. So, that said, given the fact that I’ve resolved to eat more green vegetables, I’ve spent the last month adding a few 5-minute-or-less vegetable sides to our weekly rotation that work within our busy lifestyle.

1) Sautéed spinach with garlic and chili flakes- easy breezy. Put some sliced garlic and red pepper flakes in a pan with some nice olive oil and crank the heat to high. When the garlic starts to sizzle add your spinach and toss around until wilted. Salt and pepper and a dash of sherry vinegar and get it on the plate.

2) Lemony asparagus- Trim the ends off your asparagus, put them in a sauté pan with about a 1/3-inch of water and some butter and salt and pepper. Again, crank the heat to high, and by the time the water evaporates (about 3-4) minutes, you’ve got perfectly cooked asparagus. Add a squeeze of lemon and you’re good to go.

3) Soy-glazed green beans- Now having gone to culinary school, I never thought I’d be buying pre-trimmed green beans, but desperate times…Just like the asparagus, in the 3-4 minutes it takes for your water to evaporate, your veggies will end up perfectly cooked. Once their done, you hit them with a mixture of roughly equal parts soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sweet-chili sauce (a tablespoon of each should do) and let that cook to a nice syrupy glaze.

And the great thing about all of these is that not only are they quick, easy, and low-impact on your kitchen as far as prep space and number of dishes used, they tend to pair well with different meals from across the spectrum.

And variety being the spice of life and all, I’d be interested to hear of any other go-to speed veggie dishes out there if you’ve got any.

Like many working families, my wife and I struggle putting a healthy, well-balanced meal on the table on a nightly basis what with the time constraints of work hours for us and homework/extra-curricular activities for the kids. As a matter of fact, I imagine that most weeknights, we dedicate about a 1/2-hour to the production and consumption of dinner. Pretty pathetic I know, but that’s what obsessive little-league parents do. Put off the things that matter around the house and basically transform their lives into a shuttle-service for their kids for months on end.

And given the fact that we have picky-eater kids, we either prepare them their own meal or we spend dinner in a Mexican standoff seeing who will blink first if we try to get them to eat the “grown-up” meal (i.e. the one that includes green vegetables). And really, no one has the stomach for that on a nightly basis. I mean as much a I want my kids to enjoy a variety of delicious and healthy foods, I also want them to not see the dinner table as a place of misery and despair. So, that said, given the fact that I’ve resolved to eat more green vegetables, I’ve spent the last month adding a few 5-minute-or-less vegetable sides to our weekly rotation that work within our busy lifestyle (and result in smiles...see proof at right).

1) Sautéed spinach with garlic and chili flakes- easy breezy. Put some sliced garlic and red pepper flakes in a pan with some nice olive oil and crank the heat to high. When the garlic starts to sizzle add your spinach and toss around until wilted. Salt and pepper and a dash of sherry vinegar and get it on the plate.


2) Lemony asparagus- Trim the ends off your asparagus, put them in a sauté pan with about a 1/3-inch of water and some butter and salt and pepper. Again, crank the heat to high, and by the time the water evaporates (about 3-4) minutes, you’ve got perfectly cooked asparagus. Add a squeeze of lemon and you’re good to go.

3) Soy-glazed green beans- Now having gone to culinary school, I never thought I’d be buying pre-trimmed green beans, but desperate times…Just like the asparagus, in the 3-4 minutes it takes for your water to evaporate, your veggies will end up perfectly cooked. Once their done, you hit them with a mixture of roughly equal parts soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sweet-chili sauce (a tablespoon of each should do) and let that cook to a nice syrupy glaze.

And the great thing about all of these is that not only are they quick, easy, and low-impact on your kitchen as far as prep space and number of dishes used, they tend to pair well with different meals from across the spectrum.

And variety being the spice of life and all, I’d be interested to hear of any other go-to speed veggie dishes out there if you’ve got any.

See our collection of Superfast Sides for more quick side dishes.