Easy Side Dishes

Easy side dishes are the best way to complete a party menu. Decide your main protein and choose a side dish that compliments or contrast.

Rice Side Dishes

Easy Oven Risotto 
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade, divided
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice almost done. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, cheese, wine, butter, salt and pepper.  Stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes until the rice is thick and creamy. Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.

Yellow Rice with Peas and Lemon
Serves 6

1 8 oz. package yellow rice mix
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Prepare yellow rice mix according to package directions.  Let rest 5 minutes.  Stir in peas, green onions, lemon juice and zest until well mixed.

Quick Spanish Rice
Serves 4-6

1 1/4 cups white rice, uncooked
1 3/4 cups water
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Place all ingredients in covered saucepan over medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles. Stir and reduce heat. Cook 10-12 minutes, covered. Stir once or twice during cooking to keep the rice from sticking.

Easy Curried Rice
Serves 6

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups cooked rice

Garnish with chopped Roma tomatoes, black olives and sliced green onions.  
Saute onion and green pepper in butter until onion is tender. Stir in curry powder, slightly beaten egg salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix into hot rice. 

Potato Side Dishes

Super Creamy Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6

3 pounds Russet potatoes, cut into large chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
6 ounces soften cream cheese
2/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Boil potatoes with salt until tender; drain.  Place potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash. Add butter and next 3 ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are blended.

Spoon mixture into a lightly greased baking dish. Brush top with melted butter; sprinkle with paprika. Bake immediately, or let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  

If refrigerated, let stand at room temperature 30 min. before baking.   Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, 30 minutes or until hot.

Easy Scalloped Potatoes
Serves 6

6 medium Russett potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/4 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter or margarine. Add flour; cook and stir for a minute or two until bubbly. Add milk and stir constantly until thickened.

In greased 2-quart casserole, layer half of sliced potatoes, half of onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining potatoes and onions. Pour white sauce over all.

Cover and bake at 350F for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

Pasta Side Dishes

Impossible Pasta Bologonese
Serves 4-6

Serve this crazy quick and hearty pasta side dish with roasted chicken and vegetable salad

1/2 pound ground beef, pork, turkey or mixture
1 28-ounce jar garden-style pasta sauce
3 tablespoons light cream
3 tablespoons white wine (optional)
3 cups mostaccioli or other similiar shaped pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese

In large skillet over medium heat, crumble and cook meat until browned. Drain. Add pasta sauce, cream and wine.  Heat to just boiling. Reduce heat, simmer 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Toss hot pasta into sauce. Top with cheese and serve.  

Tomato and Ricotta Pasta Side Dish
Serves 6

1 pound penne or other medium pasta shape
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes with liquid
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil
2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil or parsley, for garnish

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, combine the tomatoes, basil and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend at low speed until tomatoes are completely puréed. Pour mixture into a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. 

When pasta is done, drain well. Return pasta to cooking pot, add the tomato sauce and heat over low heat until sauce is simmering and the pasta is coated with sauce. Remove pot from heat and stir in Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses until evenly distributed. Divide among serving plates and top with chopped fresh basil or parsley.

Bean and Vegetable Side Dishes

Quick and Kickin' Beans
Serves 6

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 16-ounce can low-sodium pinto beans, drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
8 ounces can kernel corn, drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
Salt to taste

In large saucepan, cook and stir onion and garlic until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until flavors are blended and beans are hot.  Serve with shredded Cheddar cheese, avocado slices and warmed flour tortillas, if desired.

Sweet and Sour Baked Beans
Serves 75. If desired, the crushed pineapple can be reduced by half or omitted to reduce sweetness

4 cans (48 oz size) great northern beans
4 cups chopped onions
2 lbs dark. brown sugar
2 lbs cubed ham or smoked sausage
1 bottle (28 oz size) ketchup
1 can (20 oz size) crushed pineapple drained
1/2 cup prepared mustard
1/3 cup vinegar

Rinse and drain beans. Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Divide beans into 4 greased 9 x 13 x 2 inch pans. Cover tightly and bake at 350°F for 1hr. Uncover and bake another 20 - 30 minutes.

Vegetable Stir-Fry

Serves 4

Great all-round easy side dish.  Serve with brown rice seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup prepared stir fry sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
4 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 cups small broccoli florets
2 cups small mushrooms
1 small onion, cut into wedges and separated into 1-inch strips
1 medium carrot, cut diagonally into 1/3 inch slices

Combine honey, stir-fry sauce and pepper flakes in small bowl; set aside. In wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add vegetables and toss while cooking, about 2-3 minutes. Add honey sauce, stir until all vegetables are glazed and sauce is bubbly hot, about 1 minute. Serve as a vegetable side dish or over steamed rice or noodles for a main dish.

Braised Mushrooms
Serves 8

An excellent side dish for beef roasts, steaks or fillets

1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds large mushrooms, chopped or thinly sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, tarragon, and thyme, or use all parsley

Heat butter in a heavy sauté pan. Add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red wine, Worcestershire, and soy sauce. Cover and bake for 30 minutes in a 350F oven.

Remove from oven and add salt, pepper and herbs. Serve hot or cold as an appetizer or as a side dish.

Sauteed Garlic and Basil Tomatoes
Serves 8

Very versatile dish.  Serve on top of rice, pasta or steamed vegetables like cauliflower, green beans or eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halve pieces
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Saute, shaking pan frequently, until tomatoes soften and skins just begin to wrinkle, about 2 minutes.  Stir in garlic and continue to shake the pan until garlic is fragrant. Off heat, stir in basil and remaining olive oil.

Fresh Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad
Serves 4-6

2 cups fresh corn, (about 4-5 ears)
2 avocados, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes , halved
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 (5 oz) bag baby arugula

Mix together:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine the corn, avocado, tomatoes and onion in a large bowl.  Just before serving, mix the arugula into salad and pour dressing over all.  Gently toss to mix and chill before serving

Everyday Corn Relish
This combination of ingredients is fresh, crunchy and so delicious. Pair with rich proteins such as beef, pork and fish. 

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups cooked fresh corn, cut off cobs.   Blanch corn 1-3 minutes OR use 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen whole kernel corn, thawed and drained if necessary
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes, about 3-4 medium tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine sugar, vinegar and oil in large bowl; stir with wire whisk. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Cover; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain off any excess liquid and stir before serving.

Carrot-Pineapple Slaw
Serves 8

4 cups shredded carrots
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 16-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste

In large bowl, toss together carrots, cabbage, pineapple and walnuts. In small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients including the some of the reserved pineapple juice. Pour dressing over slaw; toss gently. Cover and refrigerate 2-24 hours.


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