Weeknight veggies can be exciting and tasty – plus quick and easy; no boring sides allowed. We’re going way beyond steamed broccoli today…
“We need some new ideas for vegetable side dishes. It seems I’m always serving steamed broccoli or salad; and my kids only eat salad if I add croutons and bacon,” lamented a friend recently.
I get her dialema. Weeknight veggies have to be quick and easily adaptable to a variety of main dishes. They should also be kid- (or husband-) friendly. Here are my favorite ways to wake up the weeknight veggie routine:
1. Beans count. They count as both a veggie and a protein. No recipe needed. Just add a can of drained, rinsed beans to almost any salad, pasta or mixed dish. Or cook up a big batch of beans on the stove or in the slow-cooker; freeze in meal-ready portions.
2. Serve soup. For anyone with veggie-phobia, this is a favorite. Puree any vegetable-laden soup into a creamy concoction and offending veggies just ‘disappear.’ Don’t forget soup-toppers to add sparkle – like Deanna’s Frazzled Onions on this Carrot Soup or my Sweet Potato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons.
4. Rediscover cabbage. Even this dietitian gets sick of salad – but I never tire of cabbage. And neither do my kids. The trick to appreciating this under-appreciated veggie (Prediction: It’s the next cauliflower!) is: Always add a bit of sweetness.
- Winter: Roast in the oven until caramelized; or sauteed with butter and apples
- Summer: Make simple slaws with maple syrup vinaigrette; or coleslaw with Praline Bacon.
- Fall salads: Toss in dried cranberries + nuts; or make an Asian dressing with sugar, lime and fish sauce/Worcestershire sauce.
- Spring: Buy 2 heads; it’s on sale for St. Patricks Day. Then check out 7 Ways to Enjoy Leftover Cabbage.
5. Work backwards.
When meal planning, instead of starting with the main dish, start with a seasonal veggie – like asparagus. Pick up what’s on sale in the produce department and search (right there on your phone) for a main dish incorporating that veggie.
6. Pasta or Rice + veggies = A meal.
Would you try any of these weeknight veggie ideas? How do you get beyond steamed broccoli?