Five Very Quick and Easy Side Dishes Turned Meals

Side dishes are great. The right recipes are extremely healthy and involve very little preparation work. But that’s where it is tricky the most: choosing. It doesn’t have to be this way. When it comes to healthy side dishes, stick to recipes that call for in-season fruits and vegetables. These are usually less costly during this time and can improve your health significantly. Excellent examples include apples, cranberries, spinach, kale, parsnips, squash, sweet potato, collard greens, and basil. If you are looking to spend less time in the kitchen, consider these five very quick and easy side dishes turned meals.

Sautéed Spinach With Basil

The star feature in this recipe is spinach and basil. Spinach has several health benefits. For starters, it is low in both fat and cholesterol, which is very appealing for weight watcher. It is also high in zinc and niacin, as well as manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, folate, vitamin B6, fiber, protein, and vitamins A, C, E, & K. Basil, on the other hand, is one of the healthiest herbs on the planet with a plethora of nutrients (most noticeably Vitamin Ki, which is important for blood clotting) and a sweet, earthy aroma.


  • 4cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces of fresh spinach leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) of pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat, and then cook the garlic for two minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and continue cooking for three minutes or until lightly golden. Increase the heat to medium and then add the two tablespoons of water, spinach, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer while tossing intermittently for about four minutes or until the spinach shrivels. Remove from heat and add basil. Toss for one minute or until it wilts, and serve.

Servings: 4; Total time: 15 minutes

Three-Bean Salad

Kidney beans are rich in molybdenum and are an excellent source of copper, dietary fiber, and folate. They also offer a wide range of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamin B1, protein, phosphorus, and manganese. Chickpeas are also associated with certain health benefits and eating them on a regular basis can boost your nutrient intake.


  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 115-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 115-ounce can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper


Combine the rosemary, parsley, onion, celery, kidney beans, chickpeas, and cannellini beans in a large bowl. In another small bowl, stir together the oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Add the vinaigrette over the top and toss. Serve.

Servings: 4 to 8; total time: 15 minutes

Couscous With Apricot Vinaigrette

Couscous can be consumed as a side dish, dessert, or salad. It can also be used in place of quinoa or rice and is a great source of protein, dietary fiber, essential vitamins (particularly the B vitamins), and trace minerals.


  • 1/4cup of apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (110-ounce) box of couscous
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup of roasted almonds, chopped


Add 1 ½ cups of hot water in a bowl of couscous, cover, and set aside for five minutes. In the meantime, place the preserves in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Turn off the heat and then stir in the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Using a fork, fluff the couscous and combine with the vinaigrette, almonds, and scallions.

Servings: 6; total time: 15 minutes

Green Beans with Lemon Brown Butter and Almond


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup of unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
  • 1 pound of green beans, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt


Stir salt into a large pot of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Mix in the green beans and cook for four to six minutes or until just tender. Drain and pour into a bowl. Place the butter in a small saucepan or skillet and then melt over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir or swirl the butter when it starts sputtering or foaming. Remove from heat once it turns golden brown and starts smelling nutty, approximately one minute. Stir in the almonds, lemon juice, and salt. Heat again for thirty more seconds while stirring in order for the almonds to toast, and then transfer the mixture into the bowl with the green beans.

Servings: 4; total time: 15 minutes

Summer Squash, Rotini, and Prosciutto Salad with Rosemary Dressing

Summer squash is packed with vitamin B6, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, folate, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A & C. It is a great source of manganese too, an essential mineral that helps your body process glucose, carbohydrates, and fats. Prosciutto, which resembles thinly-sliced deli ham, has a characteristically thick flavor that is part salty, part tangy, and part smoky. Although it provides certain important nutrients, it is advisable not to eat the meat on a regular basis as it is extremely high in sodium and fat.


  • 1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped yellow squash
  • 4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups of uncooked rotini
  • 1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard


Cook the pasta following the package instructions, without fat and salt. Stir in the zucchini and squash one minute before the pasta is done, and then drain and rinse under running water. Preheat a large non-stick skillet until hot and then cook the prosciutto until crisp, about five minutes. Combine the cheese, onion, prosciutto, and pasta mixture in a large bowl. Season with pepper and salt. In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar, stirring often. Combine the pasta mixture and the vinegar mixture, tossing lightly to coat.

Servings: 4; total time: 45 minutes


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