A few of our favorite “hearty” sides – not so much vegetable sides, which are in their own category, but the rices, grains, beans, potatoes, etc. that we love. And yeah, I know potatoes are a vegetable, but I think of them more in the category of the starchy sides…the ones that I find myself trying to play with to make healthier and limit a bit.
Pureed Parsnips: A rich, creamy side that’s impressive, but don’t save for a special occasion. Make with milk for an every day side or go all out for a holiday. A great stand in for mashed potatoes.
Chickpeas: It was a revelation when I first made these chickpeas gently simmered in herbs and aromatics! I’d always eaten them more for their health benefits rather than for taste…
Refried Beans: These are simple, quick doctored up beans from a can. It’s an old trick to add a bit of dairy to refried beans, something you don’t see often – but it makes them great!
Home-made Egg Noodles: Quicker than one might guess, egg noodles and can be made for pennies.Making every noodle for your family may not be feasible, but these are perfect for down home dishes.
Kicked Up Couscous: A bit more expensive than some pastas, some times it’s just the thing to serve. Best of all, it takes just a few short minutes to make so it’s great for a quick dinner.
Baby Potatoes in Parslied Broth: Up the flavor ante on baby potatoes by simmering them in a broth of your choice and finishing with a bit of butter and some parsley. Easy elegance!
Bomb Baked Potato Wedges: While some oven fries don’t live up to expectation, not so with these. Crispy and delicious on the outside, fluffy and amazing inside – a simple trick ensures they’re perfect.
Cheesy au Gratin Potato Stacks: An absolute classic in a new form – and no it’s not a “gimmick.” The muffin cups ensure each “stack” is creamy inside with a lovely crispiness out.
Cheesy Bacon Foil Potatoes: The easy potatoes shine with any simple entree & grilled items, but don’t forget them for breakfast or brunch. Make on the BBQ or in the oven.
Hash Browns: The most glorious Hash Browns from left over baked potatoes – make extra just to make these! Crunchy outside and creamy inside, these will make you look like a genius!
Potato Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Gratin: This is a go to Holiday Side, rich and silky and delish! Perfect with a roast or steak the flavors are marvelous. May be doubled but allow extra time.
Scalloped Potatoes: From the 1950’s Betty Crocker cookbook this recipe is the definitive classic. While this is the ultimate way to use left over holiday ham, this recipe makes a great side, too.
Simple, Rustic Mashed Potatoes: For many, the ultimate comfort food – here’s a few ways to minimize the damage! Quick and easy, the skins add a bit of nutritional value, so no peeling is a bonus.
Stupid Simple French Fries: I’ve been making the Sweet Potato Fries, below, for years, but had an aha moment and applied the same technique to French Fries. Very good, very easy and very do-able!
Stupid Simple Sweet Potato Fries: I had a few bad Sweet Potato Fries before I learned how to make them great…and this method is so easy its genius. You’ll never buy expensive frozen again.
Syracuse Salted Potatoes: This is a regional New York recipe that makes super creamy, super delish little baby potatoes. An obnoxious amount of salt is responsible for the alchemy. Worth it? You judge…
Traditional Irish Potato Cakes: When I was a child and these appeared on the menu, I knew it was going to be a good night! These prove just how good a left over can be – a homey classic.
Twiced Baked Potatoes for the Freezer: These delicious little stuffed potatoes freeze beautifully, and can be pulled out for a quick side. Just portion them up in quantities your family will use.
Yukon Gold Potato Salad: This lovely potato salad is bright, lemony and vibrant. A nice change from the old yellow standby, you’ll find yourself whipping this up at a moment’s notice.
Rice & Grains
Baked Cheesy Grits: While the cheesy grits, below are great, these are finished in the oven for the lightest, airiest, cheesiest grits, evah! They’re perfectly tender, throughout.
Brown Rice: Shown here in my Vibrant Vegetable Casserole, this method of baking brown rice in the oven has become my go to method for getting this slightly healthier rice on the table.
Cheesy Grits: A Southern staple, grits are updated just a bit with the addition of cheese. Simple and easy with instant grits and ready in minutes, this is a hearty, fun side. You may be a convert!
Corn Pudding, Old Time: A fun little casserole to serve with a grilled entree or any barbecue dish. This is really a down home side, easy and delicious and a crowd pleaser.
Down & Dirty Cajun Rice: This is a fresher take on the traditional Dirty Rice, this is a vibrant side dish full of gorgeous vegetables. Just a hint of bacon adds a toasty, smoky flavor.
Mexican Rice: Proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks, this recipe from Marcella Valadolid turns out beautiful, fluffy, classic Mexican Red rice. The flavor is amazing, but can be varied to your taste.
Puerto Rican Rice: Based on a traditional recipe for Rice & Peas, this carries all the flavors you’ll love in a simple side. Onions, peppers, tomato & cumin with just enough heat for interest.
Quinoa: Here are the simple basics to cook a light, fluffy Quinoa; how you modify it and what you do to it is up to you. Quinoa, like many grains (even though its a seed) is a blank slate.
Risotto: While this recipe is for an Asparagus Risotto, the same basic recipe can be used for a classic risotto and almost any variation you can think of. Use as a main dish or side.
Turkish Rice Pilaf: A perfect accompaniment for many dishes, this light, nutty pilaf especially shines with any grilled food. Think of it with kebabs or with grilled chicken.
Wild Rice: This takes about 40 minutes, but freezes beautifully and I freeze any cooking liquid, too, to add deep, earthy flavors to some soups. On my Wild Rice Chowder post.
My Sister’s Ridiculously Delish Bacon Stuffing: It might be a sin, this is so good! Crispy, crunchy on the outside, perfectly moist, and full of bacon! Does bacon go in stuffing? It does, now!
Stuffing, Classic Midwestern: Perfect for a holiday meal with any poultry, consider cutting the recipe down for a regular old dinner – perfect if there’s left over bread around!