Uncomplicated options—these are the secret to maintaining your cooking composure while rounding out a holiday main course with vibrant vegetable side dishes. When everything is prepped in advance—and by this I mean washed, cut, thawed, or chopped—they can cook in just that sliver of time when the beef, turkey, capon, or lamb is resting out of the oven. With fresh, well-chosen produce you won’t need any more than a few added ingredients to create a complete, delicious, and satisfying dish like the ones here.
7 Simple Sides
Peas, pearl onions, and mint: thaw frozen pearl onions (or chop regular ones). Sauté the onions in olive oil, add thawed frozen peas, toss around to heat through (add an optional handful of baby spinach or butter lettuce to wilt), and fold in fresh mint leaves. Season to taste.
Green beans and toasted almonds: place trimmed beans in a pan with a knob of butter and a cup of water. Simmer until the water has evaporated and the beans are just tender and are caramelizing in the butter. Add a handful of toasted almonds. Season to taste.
Carrots, shallots, and vinegar: slice or chop carrots into bite-size pieces and place in a saucepan with ½ cup water, some minced shallots, a glug of olive oil, and salt. Simmer until the water has evaporated. Sprinkle with a large pinch of sugar, pour in a good slug of red wine vinegar, and stir until the liquid turns into a glaze and the carrots are tender. Toss with fresh tarragon or basil, if desired.
Brussels sprouts, red onion, and lemon: trim and halve the Brussels sprouts lengthwise (quarter them if they are very large). Place on a baking sheet with a small chopped red onion and a lemon that has been quartered and thinly sliced. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to coat. Roast at 400ºF for 25 minutes. Replace the lemon with chopped bacon, if desired.
Sweet potatoes, garlic, and rosemary: halve small sweet potatoes or coarsely chop peeled large ones. Place on a baking sheet with several smashed and whole peeled garlic cloves. Add olive oil, salt, and several sprigs of fresh rosemary and toss to coat. Roast at 400ºF for 30 minutes.
Red cabbage, dill, and orange: core and shred the cabbage. Sauté it in olive oil or butter in a large skillet. Add minced garlic and a glug of water. Cook until just tender and the liquid has evaporated. Squeeze in the juice from half an orange and add a handful of chopped fresh dill. Season to taste.
Sliced mushrooms, black pepper, and parsley: melt butter in a large skillet; add the mushrooms and lots of ground black pepper. Cook, stirring until all the liquid has been released and evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown. Season with salt and add a handful of chopped fresh parsley.