Vegetable Sides and Mains

Vegetables are the heart of any meal, but they can also take center stage as the main dish. If you're looking for the perfect vegetable recipes to try with your family, here's where you can start.

The Importance of Eating Vegetables With Every Meal

In general, adults are recommended to eat between five and 13 servings of vegetables and fruits every day. This may be in the form of raw, cooked, canned, fresh, dried, or frozen vegetables or 100 percent vegetable juice. Research shows that eating five or more servings of vegetables and fruits daily can reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, heart attack, and early death, although millions of Americans fail to hit this goal.

Adding new vegetable recipes to your family's menu can be easier than you think for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to vegetable-based sides and main dishes, you can also sneak vegetables into any meal by mincing it, baking it into a casserole, adding greens to a smoothie, choosing vegetable-based pasta noodles, or replacing meat with a vegetable for an easy vegan-friendly dish.

Substituting Vegetables for Meat

Most Americans consider vegetables a side dish, but it can be easy to replace meat with vegetables and other plant-based ingredients in your favorite recipes to not only save money but increase your vegetable intake and improve your heart health. Surprisingly, even very meaty dishes like meatballs and burgers can be made without meat but a little imagination may sometimes be necessary. Common meat substitutes include:

  • Tofu, made from soybeans
  • TVP, or texturized vegetable protein, made from soybeans
  • Seitan, made from wheat gluten, which can be flavored like pork
  • Mushrooms, which have a meaty, earthy flavor
  • Eggplant, which has a rich, meaty flavor that works well as burgers and meatballs
  • Beans and legumes, which aren't technically vegetables but offer many heart-healthy benefits and become a healthy and filling replacement for meat
  • Beets, which have a naturally sweet flavor that becomes savory when roasted

Recipes for Vegetable Sides and Mains

Some vegetables like potatoes pair well with almost anything, but the key to choosing the right side dish is matching it with a complementary main dish. Here are a few tips for choosing a side and creating a menu with vegetables:

  • Consider a different approach for your side. An easy way to pick a side dish is choosing something different than your main dish. For example, pair a light vegetable dish with a steak or an acidic side dish to balance out rich, roasted flavors in the main dish. You can also apply this strategy to your cooking method. If you're going to roast your main dish, use the stovetop for the side. If the main meal is a complicated or tricky stovetop recipe, make something simple ahead of time.
  • Consider a similar side dish. You can also stick with a theme for your entire menu, such as chicken with lemon served with a salad made with lemon juice dressing or a vegetable dish with lemon zest.
  • Go for a balanced meal. A more traditional way of planning your meal is ensuring it's balanced between food groups. A good goal is to have a meat, vegetable, and starch or two vegetables and one starch.

Top 5 Links for "Vegetable Sides and Mains"

  1. Allrecipes Allrecipes is the largest food-based social network that doesn't just collect recipes; it focuses on reviews, advice from others who have tried the recipes, and personalized recommendations to make every meal better. Allrecipes has been online for 20+ years with one of the biggest collections of recipes and menu plans available.
  2. Food Network Food Network began as a TV channel before branching out into a magazine and website. is an excellent resource for recipes, cooking techniques, videos, and advice, including recipes and videos from top chefs and Food Network personalities.
  3. Delish launched in 2006 and features tens of thousands of tested recipes as well as dinner ideas, cooking shortcuts, and instructional videos. You can search specifically for vegetable recipes as well as holiday recipes or easy dinner plans.
  4. Martha Stewart Martha Stewart is known as the queen of all things homemaking, crafting, and cooking and her recipes don't disappoint. This is a collection of more than 90 vegetable side dishes to impress guests without spending all day in the kitchen.
  5. Buzzfeed If you're not big on vegetables or you have a picky eater in the family, this article has 17 vegetable side dishes that steal the show but don't take too long to make.

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