Wilted Spinach with Golden Sesame-Garlic Crumbs

Photo: Christopher Baker

The Speediest Spinach (That Also Happens to Taste Fantastic)
Spinach is an easy accompaniment, since it cooks so quickly (60 seconds, max, in the microwave). In this dish, a topping of toasted panko bread crumbs and sesame seeds, sautéed garlic and chili powder adds crunch and a little spice.

Get the recipe: Wilted Spinach with Golden Sesame-Garlic Crumbs
Oprah's Lemon Zest Pasta

Photo: Anna Williams

The Pasta Oprah Makes When Her Pantry's Bare
Oprah usually serves this zingy pasta with a piece of grilled fish, but it's equally good with plain chicken. You can use whatever fresh herbs you have; the rest of the ingredients are as simple as spaghetti, olive oil, lemon, butter, salt, pepper and Parmesan.

Get the recipe: Oprah's Lemon Zest Pasta
Strawberry Jam and Goat Cheese Pizza

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

Strawberry Pizza (Really!)
When the main course is simple, why not throw diners a curveball with a savory-sweet side that's also fun to eat! Bake store-bought pizza dough for 10 minutes and then spread strawberry jam on top. Crumble some goat cheese over the pizza and bake five minutes more. Sprinkle roughly torn mint leaves and orange zest on top, and the most surprisingly delicious side ever is served.

Get the recipe: Strawberry Jam and Goat Cheese Pizza
Apple and arugula salad

Photo: Thinkstock

A Cool Salad with a Warm Dressing
A warm vinaigrette made with apple cider, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and olive oil helps mellow arugula's strong flavor. Thin slices of apple and chives round out this healthy 15-minute side.

Get the recipe: Arugula and Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
Broccoli Slaw with Cilantro and Garlic

Photo: Coral von Zumwalt

Coleslaw with More Flavor
Cat Cora's trick for getting an unusual spin on a summer classic to the table in 15 minutes: packaged broccoli slaw (Dole's version combines broccoli, carrots and red cabbage). Fresh cilantro and hot sauce add zing.

Get the recipe: Broccoli Slaw with Cilantro and Garlic

Photo: Thinkstock

A Southern Staple in 10 Minutes
Quick-cooking grits thicken in only six minutes, which will give you just enough time to grate some sharp white Cheddar. The cheese—plus a few tablespoons each of heavy cream and butter—makes this a rich side that'll complement even the plainest supper.

Get the recipe: Cheddar Grits

Photo: Thinkstock

Portobellos That Could Upstage the Main Course
Meaty portobello mushrooms have become so popular as a vegetarian alternative to steak, we almost forget that they also make one of the quickest and most satisfying sides. Just toss them in a quick mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, and roast 10 to 12 minutes.

Get the recipe: Roasted Portobello Mushrooms
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Applesauce

Photo: Ann Stratton

A Just-Sweet-Enough Childhood Favorite
Homemade applesauce blows the jarred stuff out of the water, and it isn't difficult or time-consuming to make. Use red apples and keep the skins on; it will not only make less work for you but also impart a rosy blush to the dish.

Get the recipe: Brown Sugar Cinnamon Applesauce
Veggie fries

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Homemade Veggie Fries
It only takes 10 to 15 minutes for french-fry-size carrots to turn crisp-tender and lightly browned along the edges. This recipe calls for seasoning them with an Indian spice blend that can include cinnamon, pepper, cumin and cloves.

Get the recipe: Carrot Fries

Next: Quick and easy side dishes to complete any meal