10 Healthy Side Dishes to Pair with Every Single Meal

updated May 12, 2020
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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

Having a few trusty side dishes you know your family loves makes pulling off scrappy weeknight dinners a whole lot more manageable. It means you can put your attention on the main dish instead of having to sweat about what to serve with whatever you’re having, be it chicken, fish, pasta, or even just a takeout pizza. What’s even better is if those side dishes are healthy (read: vegetable-forward, not too heavy or rich, and full of wholesome nutrients that leave everyone at the table feeling their best).

To make your life easier, we rounded up 10 of our very favorite feel-good, veg-heavy sides that come together quickly and easily — focusing on ones that will pair especially well with just about anything you’re serving. Pick a few that you know will go over well with your crowd, whether it’s roasted potatoes or a simple arugula salad, then learn them and love them. Soon you may just find you hardly even have to glance at your chosen recipes — allowing you to assemble these simple side dishes truly without fuss.

1. Easy 10-Minute Garlic Broccolini

If you’ve never prepared Broccolini, let this basic recipe be your guide. The vegetable is so easy to cook that it may replace all your other typical green sides.

Get the recipe: Easy 10-Minute Garlic Broccolini

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

2. Easy Spinach Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Feta

Feel free to mix and match this crowd-pleasing salad depending on your mood and the season. Swap in the apples for pears, berries, or stone fruit and use your favorite nuts and cheese.

Get the recipe: Easy Spinach Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Feta

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Cheesy Garlic & Herb Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Roasted sweet potatoes are a pretty perfect side dish as is, but add cheese and herbs and smash them and you’ve got something that rivals the main course.

Get the recipe: Cheesy Garlic & Herb Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Easy 15-Minute Garlic Butter Mushrooms

While thyme is a classic match for earthy mushrooms, rosemary would be equally great in this simple side.

Get the recipe: Easy 15-Minute Garlic Butter Mushrooms

5. Easy Skillet Kale with Lemon & Garlic

As far as we can tell, the kale craze isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so we think you should learn how to cook it well. This basic recipe is one to memorize.

Get the recipe: Easy Skillet Kale with Lemon & Garlic

Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. Sour Cream and Dill Cucumber Salad

While not traditional, if you’d like to add a little protein to this creamy cucumber salad and make it extra wholesome, swap in plain whole-milk Greek yogurt for the sour cream.

Get the recipe: Sour Cream and Dill Cucumber Salad

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Simple Arugula Salad

This lemon and olive oil-dressed salad is one that matches every meal. Plus, it’s so easy that after you’ve made it once you’ll never have to look at the recipe again.

Get the recipe: Simple Arugula Salad

Credit: Joe Lingeman

8. 3-Ingredient Roasted Dijon Potatoes

Tossing potatoes with Dijon mustard not only imparts serious flavor, but it also gives them an irresistible, golden-brown crust.

Get the recipe: 3-Ingredient Roasted Dijon Potatoes

Credit: Joe Lingeman

9. Tangy Carrot Slaw

This refreshing slaw gets better with a rest in the fridge, when all its flavors meld, so feel free to make it a day ahead.

Get the recipe: Tangy Carrot Slaw

10. Easy Lemon Ginger Spinach

Grated fresh ginger adds bite to a quick skillet of sautéed spinach, and makes it more memorable than your usual side.

Get the recipe: Easy Lemon Ginger Spinach