While the main dish gets all the credit, it's really the humble sides that deserve more attention. A healthy arsenal of easy-to-make vegetable sides makes for more enjoyable and healthier eating all week long. These 23+ craveable vegetable recipes are prepared to perfection using fast yet flavor-packed techniques like roasting, grilling and sautéing.
From crispy Brussels sprouts to sauteed asparagus and beyond. Every vegetable has a go-to cooking method that highlights its texture and flavors and textures come out the best.
These recipes are:
- Quick - featuring simple ingredients and prep for fast weeknight meals
- Nutritious - packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals
- Delicious - new techniques boost natural flavors and textures
- Seasonal - spotlighting veggies at their flavor peak
Get kids involved in making easy veggie sides too. Helping in the kitchen makes kids far more likely to eat their veggies! Break out the child-friendly chef knives and make meal prep an engaging activity.
Methods for Cooking Vegetables
Vegetables shine when paired with the optimal cooking technique to highlight their unique flavors and textures. Getting creative with preparation is an enjoyable way to transform ordinary produce into extraordinary sides.
Certain methods work especially well for specific vegetables:
- Roasting - This dry heat caramelizes and intensifies flavors for vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and more. Simply toss in oil, season well and roast at high heat.
- Sautéing - Quick cooking over medium-high heat in a little oil preserves a crisp-tender texture for veggies like asparagus, green beans, zucchini and spinach. Toss and stir frequently.
- Grilling - Imparting smoky char flavor, the high direct heat of the grill is great for vegetables like eggplant, onions, squash, corn and portobello mushrooms. Brush or toss with oil first so they don't stick to the grill.
- Steaming - Using steam to cook vegetables like broccoli, carrots and green beans gently preserves nutrients and their bright, fresh flavors. The crisp-tender texture is also delightful.
- Blanching - Briefly boiling in salted water then shocking vegetables in ice water to set color and texture is great for broccoli, green beans, asparagus and more before freezing or sautéing.
- Sous Vide - Cooking vegetables like carrots, beets and onions in vacuum-sealed bags immersed in a temperature-controlled water bath yields super tender, concentrated flavors.
- Pickling - While not technically a cooking method, vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, onions and cucumbers soaked in a brine of vinegar/salt/sugar solution pickle and preserve the vegetables while infusing tangy flavor.
- Frying - Coating vegetables like onions, mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant in batter or breadcrumbs then quickly frying locks in moisture and forms a super crispy-crunchy exterior.
Vegetable Side Dish Recipes
Potatoes [add more]
A Few Veggie Tips
- Buying Vegetables - When selecting vegetables, opt for those with vibrant colors, firm textures, and no signs of wilting. A few blemishes that are just cosmetic are just fine. Choose in-season produce for the freshest flavors, and don't be afraid to explore local farmers' markets for a variety of high-quality locally sourced options.
- Cook What's in Season - Unlock the full potential of flavor by cooking with seasonal vegetables. Not only does this ensure freshness, but it also supports local agriculture and sustainability. Stay attuned to the natural cycles of produce, adapting your recipes to showcase the best of each season.
- How to Store Vegetables - Maximize the shelf life of your vegetables by storing them properly. Keep leafy greens and herbs in damp paper towels in the fridge, store potatoes and onions in a cool, dark place, and refrigerate most other vegetables in the crisper drawer.
- Rehydrating Wilted Vegetables - Revive wilted vegetables by immersing them in ice water for a refreshing crispness. For heartier vegetables, consider soaking them in a bowl of cold water for a few hours. This simple rehydration process can breathe life back into your veggies, ensuring they maintain both their taste and texture.
- Don't Throw It Away - Embrace a zero-waste approach to vegetable preparation. Instead of discarding parts like beet leaves and carrot stems, consider creative uses for them in salads, soups, or sauces like carrot top pesto. Compost the remaining kitchen scraps to contribute to a sustainable cycle.
Vegetable Side Dish Recipes
- 1 lb Brussels Sprouts trimmed and halved
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅛ cup Olive Oil
- Place a sheet pan that will fit the brussels sprouts in the oven and preheat oven on broil.
- In a bowl, combine the brussels sprouts with salt, pepper and sugar. Then mix in the olive oil.
- Transfer brussels to a piece of parchment paper that has been pre-cut to fit on the sheet pan.
- Very carefully place parchment + brussels onto the sheet pan in the oven.
- Broil for 6 minutes then stir and rotate the sheet pan to promote even cooking.
- Broil for another 6 minutes or until brussels are crispy but not burned.
- Serve immediately.