8 Flavor Bomb Vegetable Side Dishes That Don’t Take too Long to Make

Sesame Miso Air Fryer Asparagus
Image credit: Shutterstock

Published on April 28, 2022

By Ariane Resnick, CNC

Vegetables are an excellent canvas for spices and seasonings — and some of these super flavorful, healthy vegetable side dishes come together without much time or effort at all. We’ve included recipes that utilize a bunch of different cooking methods, including sautéing, air frying, and smashing — and some others that require counter prep only.

Read next: 10 Easy Weeknight Meals to Make After a Really Long Day

Many of these take just a few minutes to prepare, while others require a little more time, but pack a punch that makes every minute worth it. 

1. Pineapple Coleslaw

Pineapple Coleslaw

Image credit: Shutterstock

A cup of juicy pineapple makes this coleslaw more flavorful and interesting than average. Rice vinegar and lime juice contribute to the dressing, so it’s also healthier than your usual coleslaw salad dressing full of mayo. But if you’re worried about the lack of balancing creaminess, fear not — a few tablespoons of plain yogurt takes care of it. Raw green onions and fresh cilantro bring the whole slaw together, providing a punch of flavor (along with cancer prevention). Pineapple is sweet enough as-is, so we’d just leave out the brown sugar, but if you’d like to sweeten this dish up a little more, we’d recommend adding honey, one teaspoon at a time, until you reach the desired level of sweetness.

2. Blistered Gochujang String Beans

Blistered Gochujang String Beans

Image credit: Meatless Makovers

If you’re not familiar with the popular fermented chili sauce known as gochujang, these blistered string beans will make for the perfect introduction. By blistering the green beans, you’ll coax caramelized sweetness out of them. Gochujang is added while they’re hot in the pan, and the spicy sauce is tossed in to coat the beans. Crunchy spring onions and sesame seeds garnish the dish, making for a variety of textures. One of the fastest healthy vegetable side dishes, this recipe takes a mere 15 minutes from start to finish, and is a quick way to spice up any meal. 

3. Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Anchovies

healthy vegetable side dishes: Roasted Broccoli With Garlic and Anchovies

Image credit: The Cook’s Pyjamas

Anchovies are tiny fish with big health benefits, such as great omega-3 content and lots of protein. They also contribute umami, aka the “sixth taste,” which provides a big hit of flavor and depth to this roasted broccoli dish. You’ll use a full head of broccoli, which is perfect for those of us who hate odds-and-ends leftover produce, and a single clove of crushed garlic (although you’re welcome to double or triple that if you’re super into garlic). A fast 10 minute roast in the oven is all it takes to brown the broccoli and infuse it with flavorful anchovy.

4. Chinese Cucumber Salad

healthy vegetable side dishes: Chinese Cucumber Salad

Image credit: Shutterstock

There’s no cooking required at all in this fun cucumber salad side dish. Instead, you’ll use a wide kitchen knife to smash the cucumber pieces, which will soften them and make the dressing permeate. It takes just a few minutes in the dressing for the cucumbers to marinate, and you’re left with a spicy, highly flavored side dish. While the chili oil is optional, we recommend it both for taste excitement and health benefits, as people who regularly eat chilis have been shown to live longer. 

5. Easiest Cauliflower Couscous Salad

Easiest Cauliflower Couscous Salad

Image credit: Iowa Girl Eats

This ultra-easy cauliflower salad recipe replaces traditional couscous (which is really just a tiny pasta) with riced cauliflower, and pairs them with dried cranberries and apricots, so there’s plenty of chewy texture along with the crunch of cauliflower. The dressing employs fresh squeezed orange juice, along with apple cider vinegar, making this a sweet-and-sour affair that’s anything but bland. And even though it comes together in just a few short minutes, you can make it up to a day ahead. That flexibility is king when it comes to meal prep! 

6. Garlicky Bok Choy

healthy vegetable side dishes: Garlicky Bok Choy

Image credit: The Lemon Bowl

With 5 minutes of prep and 5 minutes of cooking, you’ll have this garlicky bok choy on the table in just 10 minutes flat. Freshly minced ginger is the key to amping up the flavor of the bok choy, which is mild on its own. You can use large or baby bok choy, so choose whichever looks the freshest and most vibrant.

7. Super Easy Green Peas with Mint

Mint is often a requisite garnish for desserts, but it works beautifully in savory foods, as evidenced by this super easy green peas with mint side dish. The two are a quintessential pairing, with the mint balancing the inherent sweetness of the green peas. If fresh peas aren’t in season, you’re still in luck, as the dish calls for either fresh or frozen. If using frozen, we suggest thawing them briefly on the counter first. Mint is excellent for digestion, and this dish works fabulously alongside stronger proteins like lamb and bison.  

8. Sesame Miso Air Fryer Asparagus

healthy vegetable side dishes: Sesame Miso Air Fryer Asparagus

Image credit: Shutterstock

White miso crams big flavors into small amounts. The paste, which is made of fermented soybeans, is sweeter than other forms of miso, lending dishes like this sesame miso air fryer asparagus a panoply of different tastes that feel like far more than a spoonful of an ingredient should be able to provide. Toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar add even more brightness and depth to the dish, and thanks to the air fryer method, it cooks in under 10 minutes. We recommend doubling the dressing recipe so you have extra on hand for other healthy vegetable side dishes to enjoy the next day.  

Read next: 11 Healthy (and Delicious) Chicken Thigh Recipes

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