Quick & Easy Side Dishes (or Meatless Main Dishes)

Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

One of the most frequent questions I receive revolves around side dishes. Folks are often confused about what to pair with their main dishes or find themselves in a rut of same old, same old.

I’ve heard more than one hooray about my new cookbook and the fact that the recipes are organized as meals instead of traditional soup, salad, beef, chicken, etc. chapters. While you can mix and match the recipes however you like, if you’re side dish-challenged, some of the work is done for you already.

I think it’s pretty funny how the lines are drawn with food preferences at our house. My daughters and I typically enjoy the sides more than the main dish. Unless steak is on the menu, I’m happy with potatoes and a salad. My boys and husband are the opposite. They’d fill up on meat and starch and maybe eat a few vegetables. Of course, there are exceptions to all this, depending on what is served.

My main point is that these recipes are great as quick and easy side dishes, but they will double as meatless main dishes when you combine a few together. Either way you go, I recommend choosing some from both the starch and vegetable categories.

Starchy sides

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

Easy Roast Potatoes

These uber-scrumptious Easy Roast Potatoes are so easy to make, I’m not really going to spend a ton of time telling you about them. They are similar to my Simple Dill Potatoes – only SURPRISE! No dill. The main differences are that I used itty bitty gold potatoes and copious amounts of FishMama Spice. It took about five minutes to mix up the potatoes since I already has the spice mix on hand.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

Lemon and Herb Rice Pilaf

I’ve shared my Simple Rice Pilaf made with brown rice as well as my Seasoned Rice Pilaf. I usually use copious amounts of butter or oil along with rich chicken broth.

Recently, I decided to see how low I could go in making a simplified version that cost very little but still made a flavorful side dish. I reduced the oil and add-ins, but still pulled off a great dish with practically nothing. This Lemon and Herb Rice Pilaf would be it.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

Tastiest Scalloped Potatoes

Friends, meet the best scalloped potatoes on the planet. I’ve been making these for almost twenty years. They are easy to make and there are rarely leftovers. If there are, I wake up early to eat them for breakfast when no one’s looking.

They are that good. Make the Tastiest Scalloped Potatoes and receive undying love and devotion from your dinner guests.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

White Bean Salad

Bean salads are a perfect addition to summer suppers. Not only are they typically served chilled or at room temperature helping you avoid a hot kitchen, but they are super filling so that you know folks won’t be hungry ten minutes after supper’s concluded. This White Bean Salad is a favorite at our house.

Vegetables

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

Jessika’s Roasted Vegetables

My friend Jessika gets the credit for this dish. Chop up whatever veg you have on hand, toss with olive oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper. Roast in oven and enjoy! You will find yourself making Jessika’s Roasted Vegetables often.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

The Go-To Salad

As the title implies, this is my Go-To Salad. It has all my favorite things, happily dancing on a plate. The dressing is mixed with the salad; nothing could be easier.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

Carrot Salad with Cilantro and Pepitas

Try this Carrot Salad with Cilantro and Pepitas for a little bit out of the ordinary. Carrots are typically super cheap. Shredding them and tossing them with herbs, seeds, and vinaigrette makes for a super simple, fresh side salad.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes - Want to pair some tasty side dishes with your main? Check out these quick and easy side dishes that fit the budget and please the palate.

Oven Roasted Ratatouille

Now is the time when zucchini and eggplant are in abundance. Whip up a double batch of this Oven Roasted Ratatouille and freeze some for winter. It’s delicious any time of day. Yum!

What are YOUR favorite quick and easy side dishes?

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Comments

  1. Stephanie M. says:

    I agree with you that sometimes the sides are the best part of the meal. For a starchy side, I love to make Yorkshire Pudding whenever I make roast beef. Like so many, for years, I wasn’t sure what it was; I thought it was some kind of dessert. But in reality, it is like a popover and so good dipped in gravy with the roast beef. It is quick and easy and impressive to serve when you have guests. Another starchy side we really enjoy is Greek lemon roasted potatoes. They are roasted like any other roasted potatoes but they are first coated with a mixture of olive oil, dried oregano, garlic powder, lemon juice, chicken broth, and ground black pepper. Right before they are done roasting, I put them under the broiler for added crispness. Twice cooked mashed potatoes are another side I enjoy cooking especially when I have company because it makes a lot. Cook and prepare potatoes the same way as mashed potatoes but while mashing them, add one egg and 1 8-oz. package softened cream cheese. Pour into a casserole, top with paprika and bake for 45 minutes. Another potato dish is good to make with leftover mashed potatoes by adding one beaten egg, some Italian seasoning, and garlic powder; then form into patties and fry till golden brown. A veggie side that I especially like to make on Thanksgiving is a yellow squash casserole by thinly slicing 2 lbs. squash and boiling till almost tender; then sautéing a chopped onion in butter and beating 2 eggs in a bowl. Then in a large pot or bowl, mix 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, onion mixture and eggs. Add squash and 6 crushed saltine crackers, Mix and put into a greased pyrex or other baking dish. Sprinkle the top with 6 additional crushed saltines and bake for 30 minutes. Another veggie side dish that I make is a vegetable casserole using a 1lb. bag of frozen broccoli , carrots, and cauliflower thawed and drained. Add to the vegetables one can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1/2 lb. shredded cheddar cheese, 2 TBS. sour cream and half of a small can of French fried onions. Put into a 1 qt. baking dish and bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining French fried onions and another 1/2 lb. shredded cheddar and bake uncovered for an additional five minutes.

    • We have popovers on soup night. I’ll have to remember to make it next time I can afford to buy a roast. (My word, beef is expensive here.)

      • Stephanie M. says:

        Hi Jessica: I feel your pain. Beef is expensive here too. I usually try to wait until it goes on sale, especially when I buy a bottom round for pot roast or an eye round for roast beef. Then I cook it for what I bought it for and eat it that way for a few nights. After that I use the leftovers to make other meals which also provides leftovers. If I have leftover pot roast after the second meal, I usually make a pot pie or pinwheels. With an eye round, after having it as a roast beef for a couple of nights, I usually make a stir fry with the leftovers, or beef fried rice or steak salad or even open faced hot roast beef sammies with gravy. So initially it might be more than what I’d like to spend, but I usually get several meals out of it. Fortunately, we eat more chicken, fish, and pork around here. We are not opposed to eating red meat at all but because it tends to be far more expensive than the rest and the other things are probably a little more healthier, we don’t eat it as much as other meats.

  2. In May, when we moved, hubby started intern year, and I quit my job to become a stay at home wife, he told me that it’s not a dinner unless it has a side dish. Yesterday I made roasted brussels sprouts (his favorite) and roasted zucchini. We have roasted potatoes (dill, parm cheese, salt, pepper, rosemary, olive oil) and salads pretty often, too. Right now our cherry tomato plants are bursting, so we’re having plenty of caprese salad side dish. MMMMMMM.

  3. These all look so good, I can’t wait to try them.
    I am definitely tired of the same old same old.
    Linda

  4. Thanks for all the great links – pinning this now. Our go-to sides are usually rice, cous-cous, potatoes, and veggies. They can get rather boring, so I appreciate the new inspiration.

  5. Have you made Simple Rice Pilaf using your FishMama spice? I did this recently, and it was so good! My family loved it, too. I’ve made the potatoes using the spice mix a couple of times, and they are delicious as well. We like pasta side dishes as well–lemon angel hair and fettucine with cream sauce (kind of like alfredo mixed with red sauce–very good!).

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