Sides That Shine

A great meal isn’t complete without a delicious accompaniment or two. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular side dishes that pair well with most things.

The main protein of a meal will help determine what side dishes pair best. If you’re serving chicken, rice and potatoes usually work well. For seafood, leafy greens are a great match. It can be fun to get creative with how you round out your meals. Don’t forget about less common choices, such as garlic bread and pasta salad. 


Salads are a popular accompaniment and they be as simple or complicated as you like. Fresh tomatoes and onion drizzled with balsamic oil and vinegar is always a great choice. More traditionally, lettuce and a variety of veggies topped with your favorite dressing always hits the spot. If time is a concern, buy prewashed lettuce. If you’re making an Asian entree like Chicken Katsu, consider a Japanese salad. Wakame salad is made with seaweed and is prized for its subtly sweet flavor and silky texture and is used as the main ingredient in Cucumber and Wakame Salad. If you want to switch it up, you can use avocado instead of cucumber. Speaking of salads, don’t discount pasta, potato and coleslaw as excellent side dishes. 

Green leafy vegetables, like spinach and swiss chard make a tasty and nutritious accompaniment to many dishes. Lighter vegetables like this pair especially well with meat entrees, so that the dish is balanced rather than too heavy. Bok choy, a type of Chinese cabbage, is also a great choice. You can sauté this vegetable in minutes!


Fresh tomatoes and onion drizzled with balsamic oil and vinegar is always a great choice.

Other light options include toasted garlic bread and sauteed mushrooms. Both easy to execute and delicious in their own way. Garlic bread pairs well with pasta and mushrooms make the perfect side to steak. Garnish with fresh parsley to spruce up the flavor even more! 


While rice is the most popular, there are endless grains to choose from. Quinoa, couscous and farro all make wonderful side dishes. What’s more, they’re easy to cook, requiring only a pot and some water. If you can cook one, you can cook them all. You can jazz them up afterwards, by tossing them in good olive oil or butter and adding fresh herbs and any favorite vegetables. Peas and chopped broccoli are always welcome additions. Pomegranate seeds and grains make a delightful combination as well. 

Grains will last between 3 to 4 days in the fridge and about 2 months in the freezer, so it’s a great idea to cook them in large batches. It’s not like it’s hard to double the recipe and you’ll love the time you save by having something already prepared to go with cooked proteins or as the base for a salad bowl. 

Quinoa, couscous and farro all make wonderful side dishes.



It’s no wonder that root vegetables are a common accompaniment. Filling and packed with nutrients, carrots, turnip and yams also add a pop of color to your plate. Root vegetables are best prepared roasted or braised. These methods both work to caramelize the veggies and sweeten their flavor. As for spuds, mashed and baked are great preparation methods, but scalloped potatoes and fries are equally delightful side components of a meal. It comes down to preference, but a burger and fries are a match made in heaven. The same goes for steak and a fluffy bed of mashed potatoes.