Superfast Side-Dish Recipes
Green Beans and Potatoes in Chunky Tomato Sauce
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.
4 Easy Shaved Salads
Speedy Beet and Bean Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
If you love the sweet, earthy flavor of beets but think you don't have time to cook them on a weeknight, you'll appreciate this fast microwave method. Wrapping peeled beet wedges in parchment paper allows them to steam to tender perfection in less than half the time it would take to roast them. Because red beets tend to stain everything they come in contact with, we advise wearing gloves and cutting the beets on a dark-colored cutting board. If you can’t find slender haricots verts (French green beans), use an equal amount of regular green beans. Try our other variations: Beet Salad with Bacon and Onion, Beet Salad with White Beans and Orange, and Buttered Beet and Carrot Sauté.
Roasted Cauliflower Side Dishes
Folks can't seem to get enough of cauliflower's mid, slightly nutty flavor. Here we offer 4 fast and delicious ways to enjoy it: Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette, Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots, Roasted Cauliflower with Red Onions and Oranges, or Roasted Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds and Queso Fresco.
Easy Side Salads
Spring mix, a blend of small, tender lettuces, is an ideal base for side salads with a more delicate profile (think herbs, berries, and nuts rather than croutons, pungent cheeses, or big, crunchy vegetables). Our Mediterranean Roasted Red Pepper and Pine Nut Salad would be a perfect side for citrus-and-herb baked chicken.
Roasted Parsnips with Lemon and Herbs
If you’re not familiar with parsnips, try these quick recipes to acquaint yourself with them. The root veggies look like white carrots and have a decidedly sweet, earthy flavor. Shop for medium to small parsnips, as larger ones tend to have tough, woody cores. In the main recipe here, a hit of fresh lemon juice and sprinkling of fresh herbs make the whole dish taste fresh and bright. If you don’t have parsley on hand, you can leave it out, but do seek out the dill.
4 Fast Green Beans Sides
Charring is a great technique for coaxing extra flavor from vegetables without adding calories. Here, slender green beans stay crisp and fresh while taking on a hint of bitter and smoke for balance in our Feta-and-Walnut Blistered Green Beans recipe. Try with with an Asian twist in our Garlic-and-Sesame Green Beans, or enjoy a savory side with Prosciutto-and-Almond Green Beans. Finally, Mint gives fresh flavor to our Chickpea-and-Mint Green Beans.
Steamed Broccoli Four Ways
Broccoli is a go-to veggie side for many families yet is often served very plain. Here we offer 4 great ways to dress it up. First, we mix it with garlic and red onion for Mediterranean flavor. Next, we drizzle it with a creamy tarragon dressing composed of sour cream, milk, tarragon, and white wine vinegar. Then, we sprinkle it with Mexican chorizo for a hint of spice, and finally, we top it with a tomato ragout.
Trio of Orzo Side Dishes
This trio of fresh sides comes together easily and pairs with a variety of main dishes. Our Orzo with Curried Cauliflower and Mint pairs great with grilled protein and can stand alone for a hot or cold lunch. Using the recipe as a base, add any vegetables of your choosing such as zucchini, onions, eggplant and fresh herbs to brighten your pasta salad. Toasted nuts are also a great addition and add a new texture. Orzo with Snap Peas, Cilantro, and Peanuts boasts quick sautéed sugar snap peas, earthy chopped cilantro, tangy rice vinegar, and buttery peanuts. Add shredded chicken or sautéed shrimp with lemon to make this dish a one-pot meal. Finally, in our Orzo with Crispy Pancetta and Chives, whole-wheat orzo soaks up the salty and buttery flavor of sautéed pancetta. Pair with grilled fish.
Orzo with Fresh Herb Vinaigrette
In this quick side, a dressing of parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, tarragon, and thyme infuses Mediterranean flavor into whole-wheat orzo. Brighten this dish with the addition of fresh herbs and add any other herbs you like besides thyme and tarragon such as a basil and parsley. You can make this herb vinaigrette and keep it in your fridge to drizzle over salads, add to marinades and grilled protein. Orzo pasta salad can be served warm or cold making it the perfect picnic side dish.
Roasted Parsnip Variations
These recipe variations of our Roasted Parsnips with Lemon and Herbs take the roots to savory-garlicky, tangy, and sweet directions. Try the Roasted Parsnips with Sea Salt, Malt, Vinegar, and Chives, Roasted Parsnips with Walnuts, Maple, and Thyme, or Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary, Garlic, and Parmesan.
These zucchini sides couldn't be easier. Simply mix your favorite topping, half the zucchini, and grill. Our Grilled Zucchini with Lemon-Garlic Breadcrumbs uses fresh breadcrumbs from a whole-wheat baguette, while the Grilled Zucchini with Herb Butter boasts fresh chives, basil, and lemon juice. For spicy flavor try our Grilled Zucchini with Chopped Tomato-Basil Salsa, or stay cool with Sweet and Sour Grilled Zucchini.
Corn on the Cob with Lemon-Chive Butter
Nothing says summer like fresh corn on the cob. Here are a few of our favorite flavor combos for buttering them up: Corn on the Cob with Lemon-Curry Spice Butter, Corn on the Cob with Honey-Chipotle Butter, Corn on the Cob wiht Orange, Tarragon, and Basil Butter.
Haricots Verts with Shallots and Pine Nuts
This simple side of French green beans, shallots, and pine nuts comes together in a snap. Swap a few of the ingredients, and you can quickly create one of our other variations: Haricots Verts with Carrots and Sesame, Haricots Verts with Cherry Tomatoes and Mushrooms, and Haricots Verts with Pancetta and Garlic.
Grilled Eggplant Planks With Miso Aioli
Grilling eggplant allows its flavor to really shine, but our four simple toppings take this speedy side to the next level. Top it with Miso Aioli, Sherry Vinaigrette, Creole Salsa, or Creamy Lemon-Garlic Dressing. Be sure to choose smaller eggplants; they'll be easier to slice and easier to handle on the grill.
Asparagus with Garlic and Balsamic Reduction
Asparagus boasts big flavor on its own, but these fresh combinations take this popular spring veggie to a whole new level. Try the speedy option with a balsamic reduction, or opt for Asparagus with Lemon-Parmesan Breadcrumbs, Asparagus with Sesame and Citrus Vinaigrette, or Asparagus with Bacon and Shallots.
Black Pepper and Herb Mashed Potatoes
Lemon-Herb White Bean and Kale Salad
Get 7 grams of protein in this speedy side salad that comes together in a flash.
Braised Brussels Sprouts with Mustard and Thyme
Arranging the Brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan allows them to brown evenly.
Spicy Garlic Broccoli Rabe
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.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecans and Sage
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.
Brussels Sprouts with Crisp Prosciutto
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.
Orange and Red Onion Salad with Red Pepper
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.
Creamy Potato Salad
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.
White Beans with Prosciutto
Spice this basic recipe up with one of our three variations: Spicy Chile and Garlic; Dijon, Thyme, and Pine Nut; Cheddar-Beer Sauce.
Grilled Zucchini with Sea Salt
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.
Green Beans with Toasted Garlic
Try one of our three variations on this easy recipe: Sesame-Soy, Citrus-Nut, or Peppery Bacon.
Microwave Smashed Potatoes
Sesame-Miso Cucumber Salad
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.
Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes
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.
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
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.
Spinach with Garlic Vinaigrette
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.
Yellow Squash Ribbons with Red Onion and Parmesan
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.
Chickpea Salad with Provençal Herbs and Olives
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.
Haricots Verts and Grape Tomato Salad with Crème Fraîche Dressing
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.
Cumin Curried Hummus
Fresh English Pea Salad with Mint and Pecorino
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.
Couscous Salad Cups
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.
Kale with Garlic and Peppers
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.
Asparagus Ribbons with Lemon and Goat Cheese
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.
Melon and Prosciutto Salad with Parmigiano-Reggiano
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.
Majiggy Fruit Salad
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.
Sautéed Baby Squash With Basil and Feta
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.