The Mediterranean diet is known as one of the healthiest eating patterns not only because it’s adaptable to your food preferences, but also because it encourages you to eat lots of fulfilling foods like whole grains, legumes and vegetables. And these side dishes make following this diet easier and tastier than ever. With this collection of 5-ingredient recipes (not including pantry staples like salt, pepper and oil), you can effortlessly make flavorful sides with foods you may already have on hand, such as quinoa, beans or spinach. Recipes like our Quinoa with Peas & Lemon and Quick & Easy Sautéed Broccolini Recipe are nutritious, easy-to-prep and perfect for a healthy dinner side you’ll want to make again and again.
Quinoa with Peas & Lemon
Green peas add a pop of color to this bright whole-grain side dish. Plus, choosing frozen saves you time—no shelling required! Want to save even more time? Use a pouch of precooked quinoa.
Quick & Easy Sautéed Broccolini
Broccolini, with its long thin stems and small florets, is a cross between broccoli and gai lan or Chinese broccoli. This simple crisp-tender sautéed broccolini has zip from lemon and garlic and just a hint of heat from crushed red pepper. Serve alongside anything from roasted chicken to fish or steak.
Roasting cauliflower transforms it into a crispy, tender vegetable. A sponge for other flavors, cauliflower can absorb any spice mix or marinade you add, like this warm and toasty combination of turmeric, cumin and garlic. Serve as a simple side dish, or stir it into salads or grain bowls to add more plant power.
Smashed Cucumber Salad with Lemon & Cumin
Don’t skip salting the cucumbers in this quick cucumber salad recipe—just 10 minutes pulls out some of their excess moisture, concentrating the flavor and keeping the salad from being watered down. Serve this smashed cucumber salad at a summer cookout alongside burgers and hot dogs.
Balsamic-Parmesan Sautéed Spinach
Tender spinach with a hint of garlic, Parmesan cheese and sweet balsamic vinegar makes a quick and flavorful side dish. The sturdy leaves of mature spinach hold up best during cooking.
Kalettes, a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts, cook quickly in a hot oven in this easy vegetable side dish recipe.
When cauliflower is pulsed in a food processor, it magically turns into a vegetable that really resembles white rice. In this easy recipe, cauliflower rice is made into an herbed pilaf.
Balsamic-Roasted Green Beans with Parmesan
Sweet balsamic vinegar and nutty Parmesan cheese complement roasted green beans and shallots in this easy and healthy side dish. Roasting the green beans gives them a sweet, caramelized flavor while they still retain some bite. Serve with chicken, fish, pork–you name it. These green beans are also a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving meal.
Air-Fryer Butternut Squash
Butternut squash gets tender with slightly crispy edges when it’s cooked in the air fryer. The simple seasonings here complement the subtle sweetness from the squash. Serve this quick and easy side dish with just about anything, from roast chicken to pork.
This fresh-tasting, 10-minute salad is a simple mixture of fresh baby spinach and dried cranberries. To save time, we use bottled Italian dressing, but with a few extra minutes you can easily switch up the flavor by making your own dressing–just try our All-Purpose Vinaigrette (see associated recipe).
Steamed Fresh Green Beans
Steaming (but not for too long!) is a foolproof way to get perfect, crisp-tender green beans, every time. This easy recipe is a great starting point for other flavors or preparations, like adding cooked green beans to a salad.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
This creamy cucumber salad is an easy side dish for any summer BBQ. Bright dill and white-wine vinegar add fresh tartness to cucumbers and red onions. Enjoy this salad the day you prepare it so the ingredients don’t turn watery.
Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower
Roasted broccoli and cauliflower are perfectly cooked with just the right amount of seasonings and char from the oven. Enjoy this simple recipe for any meal or occasion.
On the Island of Guadeloupe, I Learned to Love Raw Garlic—Now It Tops My 5-Minute Tomato Salad
In this installment of Diaspora Dining, Jessica B. Harris’ series on foods of the African diaspora, the author and historian offers a summer salad that is simply delicious, but not for the fainthearted. Minced fresh garlic gives this salad, inspired from a visit to Guadeloupe, its special flavor.
Parmesan White Beans
Stash mirepoix blend—a basic building-block combo of chopped carrots, celery and onion—in your freezer and save some serious prep time on this simple bean side dish.
Quick & Easy Green Beans
Here’s a fast, efficient way to cook green beans (and other vegetables), eliminating the fuss of bringing a large pot of water to a boil or draining the veggies.
Zucchini & Mushroom Sauté
Serve this simple side dish with grilled turkey burgers. Other fresh herbs, like thyme or oregano, work well too.
Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Carrots
Roasting carrots in the oven brings out their inherent sweetness, while Parmesan and garlic give this easy side dish a flavorful savory accent.
Lemon-Garlic Green Beans
These tender-crisp lemon-garlic green beans have tons of flavor from shallots, garlic and the tangy lemon. It’s the perfect simple green bean side dish that pairs well with everything.
Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)
This version of sunomono uses more readily available English or slicing cucumbers, but if you live near an Asian market, you could substitute Japanese cucumbers. Some recipes call for salting the cucumbers first, but we found that squeezing them in paper towels removed enough excess moisture without adding additional sodium. This Japanese-inspired salad is cool, crisp and simply delicious.