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Your Favorite Side Dishes {Ask the Readers}

Ask The Readers

Side Dishes. I think side dishes are one of my least favorite things to cook. But they shouldn’t be.

Side dishes may not be the star of the meal, but they are often an important part of the meal. They are also often the healthiest part of the meal and we really should pay more attention to them.

I think we all get into a cooking rut where we just open that can of vegetables, that package of frozen corn, or that bag of salad and call it good. So today I want to talk about side dishes for an Ask the Readers question. Let’s share some ideas.

And I am not talking about the more complicated holiday or special meal type side dishes. I am talking about the type of side dishes that are everyday get it on the table fast type of things.

What are your favorite side dishes to serve?


Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. I tend to get in the frozen vegetable/can of fruit rut myself. There’s too much going on in our lives to make a big fuss over dinner most days. Some of my favorite side dishes to prepare in the warm weather months are salads. They tend to be quick and easy to throw together, and can be done ahead. Waldorf salad and English Pea salad make frequent appearances on our summertime dinner table.

  2. Rice is my go to side when I can’t think of anything else! Potatoes are good too.

  3. As warmer weather approaches, I think about marinated vegetable salads, tabbouleh salad, coleslaw, Mom’s black bean salad, Greek village salad, macaroni salad and other dishes served cold.

    In the fall and winter I seem to fix sweet potatoes often, either baked in their jackets or peeled, sliced, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chili powder, then roasted. Year round I like to fix this easy deli salad called Claremont salad:

    3/4 head of cabbage shredded
    1 small onion, sliced
    1 green bell pepper, sliced
    1 carrot, grated or 1 pkg. grated
    1 cucumber, sliced

    2 TB sugar
    3 TB vinegar
    2 TB salad oil
    1 TB water
    1 t. salt
    fresh ground black pepper

    1.Mix all the vegetables together in a big bowl. Put dressing in jar and shake very well. Pour over the vegetables. Leave vegetables and dressing at room temperature for 2 hours, then put it in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

    Another side dish is one of my own creations, in an attempt to get my (then young) sons to eat more vegetables:

    Orzo Pasta and Vegetables
    2 c orzo pasta
    1 TB vegetable oil
    1/3 cup chopped onion
    2 med. zucchini, diced
    1 c fresh or frozen corn kernels
    1 TB chopped fresh basil or 1 t dried
    1 medium ripe tomato, seeded, diced (I use a couple of Roma tomatoes when good fresh tomatoes are out of season)
    salt and pepper

    1.Cook orzo in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes. Drain in colander, set aside.
    2.Heat oil in large skillet. Saute onion until clear. Add zucchini, corn, and 1/4c water.
    3.Cover and cook 5 minutes. Serve hot as a side to meat, poultry, or fish.
    4.Add orzo, basil, tomato to skillet.
    5.Cook, stirring until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
    6.Can use yellow squash or one small of each, zucchini and yellow.

    • I have never heard of that salad. It sounds really good! So does the Orzo. Thanks for sharing those! And I agree sweet potatoes are great. I love to make them into sweet potato fries too during the fall and winter by drizzling them with oil, salt, and chili powder.

  4. We’ve really been enjoying roasted veggies. I’ll put a variety of fresh veggies on a sheet pan, toss with oil and kosher salt, and throw it in the oven to roast. We can eat those for a few days from that one pan. It’s always different veggies too. But not always fast that first day. For fast it’s usually a can of green beans with maybe a dollop of bacon grease while it’s heating. Or, steamed veggies in the microwave. Oh, hubby and I love pan fried fresh (or flash frozen) green beans. Especially once they get little crispy spots on them. YUM! We love the veggies, but I find it hard to come up with different ways of serving them.

    • I love roasted vegetables too, although I need to branch out and do different ones. I tend to do the same ones over and over. Roasting them is such a great way to bring out the flavors though and it is easy.

  5. For my kids, it would be seasoned green beans. I just use canned green beans and season with ham base (like bouillon) or a little bacon grease (eek, I know… ) and some onion or onion powder, salt & pepper. They love them and will eat them until they are gone.

    My husband is a potato lover but he hates when a baked potato has spots that aren’t cooked all the way through. So, to fix that – I just peel and cube the potatoes in a buttered casserole dish and top with just a few little cubes of butter, seasonings like season salt, onion or even garlic powder, sometimes parmesan cheese, and just bake covered until they are done. They are much faster than baking whole potatoes and you can still serve with whatever toppings you like for baked potatoes. On days that we are really in a rush, I cook them this way in the microwave which is even faster and still just as good.

    Worth mentioning also is one of my favorite sides growing up – “rice and tomatoes”. My mom either made a pot of “stewed tomatoes” (canned tomatoes, cut up and seasoned with a little bacon grease (like a teaspoon) or butter, salt, pepper, and about a teaspoon of sugar- cooked for a bit to combine flavors. We would eat this over white rice (which she cooked a big pot of separately) and we LOVED this growing up. Or, she would just add some minute rice to the can of tomatoes and cook all together. Either way, we loved it. I remember that sometimes we had “rice & tomatoes and fried potatoes” and that was dinner! YUM!




  6. I have a hard time with side dishes, too. Usually I steam some frozen veggies or maybe make some mashed potatoes. Roasted vegetables with olive oil and herbs are good; my husband likes roasted carrots, potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, etc., but not sweet potatoes. Sometimes we have strawberries or pineapple or whatever other fruit I can get in season for a reasonable price. My hubby isn’t fond of salads and hates anything made with mayonnaise. He’s also very picky about textures and doesn’t like vegetabes unless they are very well cooked and not at all crunchy. I use the slow cooker as much as possible because it’s easier for me to get the family to eat vegetables and grains if they’re all cooked together in soup or stew or casserole form.

  7. A side dish winner around here is roasted broccoli. Even one of my pickiest children will eat it! I chop the broccoli and drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over it. Toss with some minced garlic and salt (sea or Kosher is nice) and roast on about 400 until it starts to wilt and turn black. We like it to cook for at least 20 minutes.

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