Whether you write it out or keep a mental note, most home cooks keep a checklist on hand to keep meal time organized. Protein? Check. Grains? Check. And now ... the vegetables! If you’re not opting for a one-pot wonder, which is always a great solution for easy weeknight dinner recipes, keeping a rolodex of the best vegetable side dishes is a great idea. Sure, there’s always a quick fix like steamed broccoli or a simple mixed green salad with pre-made dressing, but a warm, savory (and sometimes even sweet) vegetable side shines at dinner time and can add a variety of texture and flavor to complement the main dish.
To ensure everyone gets their fair share of vegetables for the day, we've rounded up some of our favorites from all the seasons, taking the harvest from the garden to the table. Brussels sprouts get a myriad of makeovers with a caramelized glaze, pops of cranberry or pomegranate and even some grains for a heartier take. Spinach leaves get steamed and creamed with spicy kimchi and bacon for an umami-rich bite. Season warm weather darlings like asparagus and fresh corn with Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper or build a casserole with cheese for a creamy side that's ideal for barbecue. Looking for ways to dress up a bag of frozen vegetables? We've got you covered there, too.
These fun and fulfilling vegetable side dishes will make dinner better than ever. And while we're technically calling them "side dishes," many of them are satisfying and substantial enough to kick any meaty main out of the spotlight and be the star of the show.
"I don't have a lot of time but I love to make healthy, delicious food for my family. I can make a big batch of pesto and keep it in my fridge or freezer, and then quickly cook up a batch of any seasonal veggie (asparagus is one of my favorites) in five minutes using my quick-roasting method," says Ryan Scott.
This roasted carrot dish has been a favorite of Jody Williams and Rita Sodi since they opened New York's Via Carota — and they don’t dare take it off the menu. Their not-so-traditional recipe calls for pistachios, Greek yogurt and cumin seeds.
Dare to impress with this stunner, which marries sweet Vidalia onions with a creamy, indulgent potato gratin. It’s two sides in one and we couldn’t be happier about it.
To make Irish cookbook author Clodagh McKenna’s recipe, you’ll shave fresh asparagus into long, thin strips before tossing it with fennel and arugula. Dress the salad with a citrusy Dijon mustard vinaigrette for a light and bright finish.
It’s back to basics with this guide, which will teach you how to roast every type of vegetable. Whether you’re starting from fresh, frozen or just reheating leftovers, we’ve got the tricks you need to make broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots and zucchini sing.
Dill, tarragon and basil dress up this otherwise ordinary creamed spinach recipe. Plus, it can be served either hot or cold, making it a flexible side to serve just after cooking or made in advance.
Brussels sprouts peak during fall and winter, so serve this recipe for the chillier months. This combination of the sweet-tart pomegranate relish alongside nutty pistachios and fried sprout leaves are the makings of the perfect seasonal side dish.
To Kwame Onwuachi, the steamed cabbage he knows from Jamaican recipes has always been a little, well, boring, so he revs things up by braising the greens in coconut milk instead. Throw in a ginger-garlic purée, and no one would ever dare call this side underwhelming.
We're all about waste-free living and this recipe epitomizes that. It's a crowd-pleasing side dish that utilizes the whole carrot, including the tops, which are made into a chimichurri sauce. Drizzle it over grilled poultry or an inexpensive cut of steak for a flavorful weeknight meal.
Sweet potatoes are already bright and beautiful, but Chef Geoffrey Zakarian takes it one step further. He dresses up the roasted spuds with fresh pomegranate seeds, grated ginger and feta cheese. If you’re looking for a fun way to reintroduce a classic side dish, this recipe makes it easy.
From Melissa Ben-Ishay, founder of Baked By Melissa, comes this always-popular green goddess salad with a tangy pesto dressing. Unlike a traditional green goddess salad dressing, this one is totally vegan. It’s made with a bevy of good-for-you ingredients such as nuts, fresh basil, spinach and nutritional yeast.
"Carson and I have a date night at the restaurant Love & Salt whenever we're in Los Angeles, and this is one of our favorite salads on the menu so I love trying to recreate it at home," says Siri Daly, who promises you will to!
This German-style potato salad gets a little zing from whole grain mustard and ramps. Because it's dressed with whole grain mustard (hold the mayo), it can sit out at room temperature for a couple of hours, making it ideal for picnics and backyard barbecues.
Brussels sprouts, nutty wild rice, maple syrup, dried cranberries and toasted nuts make this vegetable side dish hearty enough to enjoy for lunch the next day.
Enliven this timeless vegetarian side dish with an unexpectedly tangy note: kimchi. This Korean staple adds a gently sour and spicy crunch to provide texture and flavor to regular creamed spinach.
Sheinelle Jones discovered the secret to getting her children to enjoy Brussels sprouts with this easy recipe, which utilizes a packet of Goya Salad & Vegetable Seasoning: "The kids eat these Brussels sprouts like popcorn," she says. "They taste amazing and they're so easy to make."
Bookmark this no-cook superstar for summer. And it couldn't be easier to prep — just grab a vegetable peeler to shave zucchini, yellow squash and fennel into thin ribbons. The result is a quick and crisp salad, where each bite is served coated in a simple but delicious vinaigrette.
This cheesy corn side dish is a staple in Kansas City, and once you try it you'll see why. Frozen corn is mixed with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, scallions and bacon to create what is easily the best side dish for barbecue.
This dish combines two simple but elegant dishes: Fresh asparagus and cacio e pepe, the traditional Roman pasta. Here, asparagus is tossed with in cracked black pepper and lots of pecorino Romano cheese and is roasted until tender.
Amp up seasonal green beans with fatty, salty bacon and sharp shallots. This dish is best served warm, but it comes together in just 20 minutes, making it an easy final addition to any dinner.
Chef and restaurant-owner Marcus Samuelsson shares his recipe for caramelized Brussels sprouts, which calls for rosemary, peanuts, berbere spice and pomegranate seeds.
Fiery cayenne, spicy jalapeños and black pepper give these tender, slow-cooked collard greens a serious kick. Love the recipe? You can thank Sheinelle's dad Darnell.
Serve this simple salad warm with a vinaigrette that’s bright, acidic and onion-y. Mixed with crispy pancetta, the fat of which is used to cook down the shallot, a splash of vinegar and Dijon, this side dish won't disappoint.
Sliced, scooped and roasted, roasted acorn squash does most of the talking with their naturally sweet flavors. Ina Garten puts a dollop of butter and maple syrup in the center of each squash, making them downright irresistible.
The secret to truly delicious Brussels sprouts that everyone will want to eat is caramelizing them, either with dry heat like roasting or frying, to unlock their sweetness and texture. With the addition of balsamic vinegar and thick-cut bacon, this classic side dish reaches new heights.
In this Arab-inspired green bean side dish, Reem Assil pairs blistered fresh tomatoes with caramelized onions and sautéed green beans. This garlicky dish has plenty of spice, thanks to a serrano chile.
These carrots are delicious served warm or at room temperature, which make them ideal for entertaining. Bonus: you only need five ingredients (plus salt and pepper) to execute these.
How do you make an old-fashioned recipe even better? Add bacon. This trick happens to be one of Al Roker's favorite ways to make creamed spinach feel totally new again.
It only takes five minutes to toss together this impressive salad. The shaved sprouts, sweet apricots and crunchy hazelnuts make this starter or side a real crowd-pleaser.