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Veggies....fast and easy sides

I usually try and include a vegetable side dish with every meal, but usually focus most of my energy on the main course. For the side dish, I want something quick and easy, with only a few ingredients. Salt and Pepper....a dash of olive oil, etc. I easily get into a rut and buy the same veggies over and over again. Any ideas out there to bring some new side dishes to my table???

Here are some of my repeats...

- Zuchinni squash (cooking spray, salt and pepper and a few minutes in the skillet.)
- Asparagus in a skillet (kosher salt, sesame seeds, and hot sesame oil)
- Corn on the cob (tossed directly on the grill while cooking my meat entree)
- Grilled Beefsteak tomato. (Cut in half, salt and pepper, and face down on the grill)
- Potato wedges (sprayed w/ oil and cooked directly on the grill. Scallions and blue cheese crumbles)

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  1. 1. I slice some brussel sprouts in half, steam them (lightly), then sautee in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper just for a sec to coat.
    2. Cherry tomatoes and cucumber
    3. I must be boring, but I love broccoli and cauliflower.
    4. Buy a bag of shredded cabbage, toss with a small amount of asian sesame dressing for a light oriental salad.
    5. I prefer suger snap to snow peas, but both could be a nice change.
    6. Fresh green beans arehard to beat.
    7. And might as well say it...beets :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: enbell

      That reminds me.....I did try roasting a cauliflower this week and loved it. I got one of those funky purple ones, cut it into 8 wedges, olive oil, salt and pepper. 30 minutes on a baking sheet at 425ish.....Best cauliflower I ever had.

      Also...I wilted some spinach leaves in a garlic/oil mixture tonight and enjoyed that.

      1. re: enbell

        i was waiting for
        7. beets (are hard to beat)
        i know i know, lame.

      2. 1)My rec is to try out greens. They are super healthy and delicious Kale, Broccoli Raab, Collards, Mustard Greens Turnip Greens is my order of preference.
        I fry up garlic, currants and red pepper flakes in a little bit of olive oil. Add prepped greens mix throw on lid, let cook for 4-5 minutes. voila! Garlic, red pepper flakes and anchovy paste garlic is also very nice. Or just Kale with a touch of cider vinegar and sugar.

        2)I also love peas and onion. Takes a little time but not much work. Just caramelize onions and add peas at the last moment for a light cooking.

        3)Green beans, with a splash of amaretto, a little butter and some toasted almonds is quite good.

        4) Try steaming broc and cauli together then tossing them in some mustard seed fried in butter.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kolgrim

          Kolgrim's 1st suggestion is mine, too. If you need to work up to greens' textures or flavors, start with spinach with the garlic, currants, and pepper flakes, or with raisins and pine nuts for a sweeter approach. Very mild and approachable if kale or mustard intimidates you. Mixing greens is nice, too. Be sure to use some oil, as it makes some of the vitamins and minerals in the greens more easily absorbed by the body.

        2. Steam some broccoli with a little oyster sauce on it

          1. Zuke on the BBQ brushed with Oyster Sauce
            Roast Cauli (as mentioned above)
            Steamed Baby Bok Choy then tossed with Oyster sauce or Hoisin or combo of both
            Carrots steamed in ginger Ale - Sounds odd but it's soo good
            Tomato and Cuke Salad with a balsamic Vin
            Those are some of my faves

            1. Puncture a spaghetti squash a few times; nuke in microwave safe dish with a little water. Scoop and mix with butter or olive oil and parmesan, sometimes garlic, and herbs if desired.

              Butternut squash pureed with some Smart Balance (or butter if you prefer), salt, and cinnamon.

              Mashed cauliflower.

              Chopped tomatoes and red onions tossed with balsamic vinegarette... so refreshing.

              I LOVE browned broccoli... I put in a micro dish with a little water, then nuke til most of the pieces brown a little, not charred. The browning imparts so much flavor (yes it depletes vitamins, but I don't care; I'll get them elsewhere) that all I need is a little salt to serve.

              Maui onions, in season, sliced and grilled. No need for anything, unless you like a little butter on them, or like me... ketchup (which I eat on everything).

              Eggplant, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, and radicchio, sliced and tossed with garlic salt, grilled and served with a little balsamic vinegar or vinegarette... or ketchup *hangs head in shame*

              1. Here are a couple quick & easy suggestions:

                Korean banchan Bean Sprouts

                1 lb fresh bean sprouts
                2 green onion, chopped
                1/2 small carrot, shredded
                1 tsp toasted sesame seed
                1 tsp salt


                Bring 1 quart of water to a full boil.
                Add bean sprouts and return to full boil.
                Cook for 1 minute then remove from heat.
                Rinse immediately in cold water, drain, and then place in a medium mixing bowl.
                Add all other ingredients and toss until well mixed.
                Serve chilled or at room temperature
                Daikon Radish Salad


                1 white Daikon radish, finely shredded (Approximately 2 lbs)
                2 tbsp salt
                1 small carrot, finely shredded
                2 green onions, cut in 1/4 inch pieces
                1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
                2 tbsp sugar
                1/2 tsp finely ground red chili pepper


                Prepare the radish:
                Place the shredded radish in a bowl.
                Add the salt, mix well and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
                Rinse with cold water then drain thoroughly, pressing out as much liquid as possible.

                Prepare the Salad
                Place radish in a medium mixing bowl.
                Add carrot, green onion, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper. Mix well.
                Serve chilled or at room temperature.

                For a variation add 1 finely shredded English Cucumber to the salad.
                Seasoned Fresh Spinach


                2 bunches fresh bunch spinach(stem & leaf, not the bagged leaves)
                2 green onions, chopped
                1 tsp toasted sesame seed
                1 tbs Sogogi Dashida (powdered beef soup stock)*
                *(or substitute your favorite powdered soup mix or bullion)


                Wash spinach thoroughly in cold water.
                In a soup pot, bring 1 quart of water to full boil.
                Completely immerse spinach in the boiling water.
                Remove from heat after 1 minute and rinse immediately in cold water.
                Squeeze excess water from spinach.
                Place spinach in a medium mixing bowl then add all ingredients and mix well.
                Serve chilled or at room temperature.

                Variation: Prepare as above but add 2 tbs of pure sesame oil and 1 tsp coarse ground red chili powder.

                2 Replies
                1. re: hannaone

                  Thanks fo the bean sprouts!!! Had 'em last night, and yum... (dare I say it?)...O!

                  1. re: enbell

                    All three of those recipes are great in hot weather. We served them as side dishes in my rest. People would come in during the summer and buy them by the quart for pot luck gatherings.

                2. I second the mashed cauliflower. It's great plain, but even better seasoned with curry powder or topped with mushroom gravy.

                  Butternut squash oven-fries. Go sweet with cinnamon, savoury with sage/rosemary, or spicy with cumin and hot paprika.

                  Grilled portobellos. Even better when brushed with pesto.

                  Fennel gratin. Roast sliced fennel, then top with grated parmesan and breadcrumbs and broil until crispy.

                  Sautéed cherry tomatoes with scallions.

                  Grilled radicchio (sliced lengthwise in quarters and sprinkled with salt).

                  1. Oven roasted roma tomatoes. Toss with olive oil, ital seasoning, kosher salt and garlic powder. Put on a cookie sheet and roast in oven at 350 for about 45min.

                    Steamed green beans tossed with garlic bacon lemon and olive oil.

                    1. Broccoli in olive oil and lemon juice, shaken with parmesan and grilled.
                      Green beans with toasted sesame seeds.
                      Peas with orzo, lemon and mint.
                      Green beans brushed with garlic and melted butter, wrapped with bacon and broiled.
                      Eggplant on the grill.
                      Cucumber salad.

                      1. I rinse a pint of grape tomatoes, toss them w/ olive oil, s&p, throw them on the toaster oven pan and cook while I'm finishing the main dish. They get juicy and burst all of their sweetness - so delicious.

                        Also have been doing a lot of artichokes this spring - also easy while finishing a main.

                        Stuffed tomatoes

                        If fish or Asian - cucumber salad

                        Found a great recipe for a "rainbow chopped salad" in Eating Well - carrots, broccoli, bell pepper, radish, tiny bit of minced red onion. Tossed in an orange oregano vinaigrette.

                        1. I love steamed green beans with almonds and a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar.

                          1. My go-to veg is parslied carrots. They're healthy, delicious, and look so colorful on the plate. Steam carrot slices or batons, then saute a few seconds in butter with a good handful of chopped parsley. Lots of parsley! A little salt and a sprinkle of sugar. They're so much better than you remember.

                            1. Our favorites that haven't, I don't think, already been mentioned:

                              1. Grilled / roasted tri-color bell peppers, dressed with olive oil and adobo

                              2. Grilled / roasted whole eggplant, mashed with olive oil and roasted garlic

                              3. Vegetable kebabs with peppers, grape tomatoes, apples, pearl onions (it's even better if you use rosemary twigs as skewers)

                              4. Turnips or carrots sauteed with butter and honey until carmelized (you can do healthier renditions of course)

                              5. Cucumbers marinated for a just a little while in rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and dill (prep time is almost nill tho you have to start earlier)

                              6. Jicama and carrot salad; hearts of palm salad

                              7. Cachumbar salad with chopped cucumber, tomato, red onion, fresh cilantro, lime juice and toasted cumin seeds (sounds like a lot of igredients, but actually very unfussy)

                              8. Radishes sliced and served with salt

                              9. Tabouleh salad

                              10. Leeks dressed with vinegar and mustard (like so: http://www.basic-recipes.com/veget/le...


                              Your prep for asparagus sounds delicious, but I bet it'd be even better grilled and the dressed with sesame oil and sesame seeds.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: cimui

                                Thanks for the great suggestions cimui. On top of all of these new ideas for me, I think I will try my asparagus on the grill and see how that goes. I'm grilling almost every night now that it is warm anyway.

                                1. re: egbluesuede

                                  then you must must must do grilled fruits for dessert....yum

                              2. Since moving to England, I've changed my cooking a great deal. One dish I make a lot is sauteed leeks and eggplant - a bit of chopped cilantro thrown in at the end. It tastes good and takes about 10 minutes, if that. Just slice up the leeks first - saute in olive oil and then put in the cubes of eggplant. We call them aubergines. :-)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: zuriga1

                                  Ooh, even if the OP doesn't use this, I am! This sounds like a rockin' combination.

                                  1. re: zuriga1

                                    add some tomatoes and some black olives and call it ratatouille

                                  2. Thanks for all of the great ideas everyone! this should keep me busy for a few weeks just trying out all of the new ideas!

                                    1. It's not really the season for it, but my new favorite vegetable side for the winter months is a combo of roasted root vegetables. I use fresh carrots (important to get young, slender ones with leafy tops), beets (red and gold), parnips, shallots, garlic. I peel the carrots and leave a bit of the leafy tops and leave them whole. Peel and wedge the beets, parsnips and shallots. Leave the garlic cloves whole. Toss everything with some good olive oil and salt and pepper, at this point you could add lemon zest, or a few springs of fresh herbs (I like thyme). Group the veggies in the middle of a sheet of foil on a sheet pan, and loosely tent them inside the foil. Roast at 450 for about a half hour, and check on them. Take them out and toss them around if necessary, and put back in the oven leaving the foil open. Let them continue to roast until everything is tender and caramelized.

                                      I also love roasted asparagus.

                                      And pan roasted brussel sprouts are heavenly.

                                      1. What a high-yield set of responses! The only veggie side I like to make much that I didn't see here was string beans sauteed with slivered almonds. For some reason the almond flavor goes really well with the beans.

                                        1. I've also got some nice looking snow peas at home. Anyone have a quick tip on those?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: egbluesuede

                                            i love mine julienned with carrots and scallions and wrapped up as spring rolls (with rice noodles, cilantro and mint) for dipping into a hoisin/peanut sauce...

                                            1. re: egbluesuede

                                              Trim and lightly steam saute with some sesame oil and garlic. (Start them out in a saute pan - with a lid - with oil, when they're nicely coated and turning bright green add a bit of water to the pan and put the lid on for a few minutes.) Salt, pepper, done.

                                              1. re: ballulah

                                                Thanks for the tip on this one. They were great tonight!

                                                1. re: egbluesuede

                                                  Glad to hear it! I used to be all about complicated preparations of everything, and these days the simpler the better.

                                              2. re: egbluesuede

                                                I make mine with sweet soy sauced shiitakes. Have all the ingredients stove side for quick use. Remove the stems from the shiitakes (about 8 large ones for 3/4# snow peas.) Slice the caps about 1/4" thick. Heat a pan (one that has a lid) over medium high heat and add a couple tsps. sesame oil. When it's hot, add the mushrooms and toss to coat with oil. Add a couple tsps. brown sugar and toss to coat and melt the sugar a bit, less than a minute. Add 1 tbsp. mirin or sake or sherry mixed with 1 tbsp. shoyu and stir fry quickly. The mushrooms will color and absorb some of the liquid. Add the peas before all the liquid evaporates and put the lid on. Give the pan a couple shakes and let everything steam for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.

                                              3. grilled endive - halve them, spray with a little oil, grill, then top with a little balsamic vinegar, s&p. really my standard grilling recipe for every vegetable, haha.

                                                1. a bunch of tomatoes on the vine... slice diagonally into the tomato, down to just above the centre. Hold the slice open with the knife and spoon in some pesto. Whack the whole bunch in the oven and bake on high for 15 mins...

                                                  Mmmmm, sweet, dribbly pesto goodness!!!!