Enliven your relationship with those same old entrees by adding side dishes that sizzle.

At our house, we have a saying: If it's Tuesday, it must be salmon. Salmon straight-up that is, prepared simply with nothing more than a shake of salt and a squeeze of lemon. It's on our weekly rotation of fuss-free dinners, and though I'd love to say such Spartan preparation is designed to subtly showcase our favorite cold-water fish's natural flavors, the truth is we're just lazy.

Or, to cast a more positive light on the situation, busy. We both love to eat, and we enjoy nothing better than a meal well done. But we simply don't have the time to labor over any kind of involved, ingredient-intensive entrees. And, as with so many other dinks (that's "dual income, no kids"), it doesn't seem worth that much trouble for just the two of us. This has been a perennial problem for us flavor junkies who want our food to amuse and entertain as well as nourish us, and we've found ourselves eating in restaurants more often than we'd like.

So we're keeping the excitement at home these days by introducing a little side action―side dishes, that is. The main course, we've learned, doesn't always have to be the main event. Inventive sides like Chipotle Black Beans, Mushroom-Barley Pilaf With Spinach, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Pecan Butter can transform mealtime standbys into real standouts. They're quick and easy, too―very desirable qualities for busy chefs who have found that we like playing around on the side.