13 Veggie Sides Even the Pickiest Eaters Will Love
Eating your vegetables has never been easier (and neither has polishing off a bowl of rice), thanks to these fuss-free dishes.
The "How Did You Get Me to Eat That?!" Broccoli
Here's a way to make broccoli something choosy diners will actually request
—without drenching the vegetable in gooey cheese. You steam the florets until tender-crisp and combine them with sweet red grapes and creamy honey-mustard dressing, for a just-sweet-enough complement to the cruciferous veg.
Get the recipe: Broccoli Antioxidant Salad
Photo: Ben Pieper Photography
Carrots That Taste Like Dessert
Humble carrots get their glory in this back-pocket recipe that's so simple, you can throw it together at a moment's notice. Just sauté the vegetables in butter, garlic and ginger then douse them in a honey-rice vinegar glaze. They're sweet and zippy, and would be ideal served with anything from fried rice to chicken curry to pot roast.
Get the recipe: Ginger-Honey Carrots
The Spinach That's Been Delighting Vegophobes for Years
Much more appealing to the veggie-averse than a leafy green salad: this steakhouse classic—a perfect balance of spinach and cream. It's as easy to cook as tossing spinach in a big pan until it's wilted and tender; draining it; and, using the same pan to make a rich-tasting sauce with butter, flour, half-and-half and a pinch of nutmeg (a natural for creamy dishes). Then, you add the spinach back to the pan and stir in Parmesan cheese for a salty kick.
Get the recipe: Creamed Parmesan Spinach
A Reinvention of Loaded Baked Potatoes
It's dangerously convenient to jazz baked spuds up with all kinds of delicious but unhealthy additions. Instead, try this smart recipe, which has you scoop out the insides of baked potatoes and mix the removed portions with grated cheese, herbs, broccoli, peas, carrots and tomatoes. You spoon that mixture back into the potatoes and bake it until the cheese is melted.
Get the recipe: Veggie-Stuffed Twice-Baked Potato Boats
A Salad That Could Win Over Onion Haters
Before you dismiss this recipe's inclusion of raw onion, hear us out: It calls for Vidalia onion, which is one of the sweetest varieties available (they're grown in low-sulfur soil, which prevents them from developing a pungent taste). The salad also includes orange segments, greens and briny ricotta salata cheese, so it's nice combo of sweet and salty. But if that's not enough to sway you, okay, omit the onions—the salad will still be delicious.
Get the recipe: Cara Cara Orange, Arugula and Vidalia Onion Salad
Remember That Crispy Equals Good
Fried anything tastes better than anything not fried, but if you don't want to completely cancel out a vegetable's nutritional benefits, try oven-frying. These zucchini sticks (shown fourth from left) crisp up nicely and taste delicious on their own or dipped in marinara sauce.
Get the recipe: Parmesan Zucchini Fries
Make a Wednesday Night Feel Like a Holiday
Although this dish makes a lovely Thanksgiving side, it's also easy enough to throw together on a weeknight alongside pork tenderloin or roast chicken. A few tablespoons of maple syrup and a 400-degree oven bring out the squash's earthy sweetness, making it more candy than veggie.
Get the recipe: Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash
Give Them Potatoes Already
If your picky eater will only touch one vegetable, chances are that it's potato. This recipe for mashed spuds incorporates garlic and parsley and has you leave the skin on, which makes it easier to prepare (bonus: fiber!).
Get the recipe: Garlic-Parsley Mashed Potatoes
When All Else Fails, Rice
A bowl of fluffy white grains is sometimes the only thing someone with a sensitive stomach or a picky palate will touch. That doesn't have to mean boring, though. Sautéing the grains first in some fat with garlic, onion and other seasonings, such as scallions and bay leaves, lends flavor and depth.
Get the recipe: Brazilian-Style Simple Pilaf
Don't Forget the Bacon
Remember what we said about some picky eaters only eating one vegetable (hello, potatoes)? If said eater extends his or her vegetable purview to include one more, we're betting it's corn. A smidgen of sugar and crisped bacon bits seal the deal.
Get the recipe: Sautéed Sweet Corn
Cook Peas, Add Cheese
We love that the ingredient list for this oozy veggie dish calls for "4 big handfuls fresh or frozen peas," a "knob of butter," a "big handful" of grated cheese, a lemon and ground white pepper. "If your kids won't eat their peas this way," celebrity chef Jamie Oliver says, "then they probably never will."
Get the recipe: Cheesy Peas
Dress Up a Persnickety Diner's Go-To
Cooking baby-cut carrots with orange juice and zest plus a little bit of butter and honey turns them crisp-tender and sweet-tart. If you prefer your vegetables softer, place them in lightly salted boiling water for three minutes, and drain before adding them to the skillet.
Get the recipe: Baby Carrots with Orange Glaze
Combine Sweet Potatoes with...Coconut?
Tricia Williams, founder of the food and nutritional counseling service Food Matters NYC, makes these perfectly crisp sweet potato wedges with coconut oil, coconut sugar (which has a faint caramel flavor, similar to light brown sugar), sea salt and chipotle powder. The result is a little sweet and a little spicy.
Get the recipe: Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges
Next: 13 main courses picky eaters will love