Over the years, I have found a plethora of delicious main dishes that the fiancé and I love to cook. However, sometimes it seems like the biggest problem is in finding an appropriate side dish or two to accompany each entree! It can be difficult to to find a balance between the different components of a meal. Pasta or grain-based side dishes usually pair well with a stand-alone meat or seafood entree, while salads and vegetable side dishes pair better with a hearty noodle-based entree. My fiancé and I have accumulated a number of go-to favorite side dishes for each season. Here I present our top 15 favorite side dishes, as well as some examples of entrees we have recently paired with each dish. Enjoy!
This is our new favorite spring salad. We have always been huge fans of the mozzarella, tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar combo. This takes it to a crazy good level, in a very refreshing way. Peaches are not in season yet, but allowing a few days for your peaches to ripen is well worth the wait! Tip: Help speed up the ripening process by placing your peaches in a brown paper bag and loosely folding over the top. This also works for other fruits like plums, nectarines, and kiwis.
Pull-apart breads have been the latest rage in the blogosphere and all over Pinterest. And while I have never been an expert at baking bread, Smitten Kitchen‘s pull-apart bread featuring cheddar cheese with a beer and mustard sauce is not only to-die-for but easy for anyone to assemble and bake correctly. It is full of so much cheesy and mustardy deliciousness that even if you are worried about baking bread for the first time, I would still highly recommend trying this recipe!
Pair with an easier recipe such as Cheez-It Chicken. For this recipe, instead of sour cream for the chicken coating, I like to use a combination of half sour cream and half plain Greek yogurt in order to cut down on the fat.
This is one of our favorite go-to side dishes for those warmer months of the year. The fiancé loves to grill everything in the summer, and Epicurious‘s Roasted-Vegetable Panzanella is a perfect accompaniment. It features a beautiful mixture of crusty roasted bread, asparagus and cherry tomatoes (pop… yum!) along with cannellini beans, capers, mozzarella and basil. It is topped with our absolute favorite condiment: balsamic vinegar! This salad is great not only because of its simplicity but because of the great layering of textures throughout.
A lot of the time we are at a loss for what to pair with Mexican dishes. And we love our Mexican food! So when Six Sisters’ Stuff posted an incredible corn salad recipe last year, the fiancé and I were super excited to try it out. This street corn salad is very simple to make and is full of incredible cheesy goodness! Definitely try to find the cotija cheese – it makes the dish!
There is a funny story behind this pasta salad. When I was very young, maybe around 10 or 11 years old, my mom enrolled me in one of those “kids cooking classes” at a community center. This is almost the exact recipe that we created in that class. When I made the pasta salad for my parents, they loved it as much as I did! For probably a year or two we made this pasta salad on a regular basis. And then eventually we just stopped. I have no idea if my mom still has the recipe lying around her kitchen somewhere, but when I discovered this similar recipe on Eat Yourself Skinny, I instantly knew it was what I had been looking for all these years! This pasta salad is super easy and I love the crunchy freshness that the grapes add to it.
Pair with a savory, juicy burger such as How Sweet It Is’s Cheeseburgers with Sautéed Mushrooms, Arugula, and Dijon Aioli.
Who loves one pot meals? This girl. (And probably all you other girls who cook out there too.) Key Ingredient is a great website for finding easy, user-friendly recipes. Last year we discovered this easy one pot recipe for Creamy Garlic Pasta and it quickly became a favorite! It is so easy to make this in one pot: the pasta literally cooks in the sauce. We usually add extra garlic also. Yum!
Brussel sprouts have been such an under-rated vegetable, but I feel like they are finally making their comeback! And Costa Kitchen‘s Crispy Brussel Sprouts recipe makes this delicious vegetable the star! The crispiness of the Brussel sprouts pairs perfectly with the creamy garlic aioli. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is so versatile: we make these year round and they pair just as well with a burger in the summer as they do with heavier entrees in the winter!
There is nothing better in the summer than a fresh, juicy cherry tomato that pops in your mouth! This Parmesan Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes side dish from Fresh Views offers just that! Roast a pint or two of beautifully ripened cherry tomatoes from your local farmer’s market in the oven and add in parmesan, bread crumbs, and your favorite herbs, fresh from the garden for a tasty summer side dish.
Pair with Chicken au Champagne for a fancy yet easy-to-assemble spring dinner!
This is our latest find in terms of tasty side dish pairings: Cinnamon-Spice and Everything Nice‘s roasted asparagus recipe. This is so easy that I can’t believe I never thought of it myself: asparagus made crispy with an egg dip and a breadcrumb/parmesan combination coating. And the dijon based dipping sauce is the icing on the cake!
Pair with a classic meal like Chick-fil-A Bites with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, or a heartier seafood dish like Sautéed Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Butter.
I’m pretty certain my fiancé’s last meal would be carrots, roasted in as many flavor combinations as possible. And there really is nothing tastier and more satisfying than a beautifully roasted carrot when it is snowing outside and the fireplace is roaring. This simple sautéed carrot recipe is the perfect accompaniment to your roasted winter chicken!
I absolutely adore a great caesar salad, and for years I have been sticking to my dads favorite classic caesar salad dressing recipe. However, last year I got on a real Greek yogurt kick, and when I found the How Sweet It Is Greek yogurt caesar recipe recipe, I knew we had to try it asap! This recipe also features crunchy bread croutons and roasted corn. One trick I have it to use frozen corn instead of corn on the cob when it is not in season. I just love how tangy the dressing is with the Greek yogurt addition!
Pair with heartier dishes like Butcher’s Ragu with Fusilli.
This has been a family staple for years. Every summer since I can remember, my mom has made this Epicurious recipe, usually on or around the fourth of July weekend. It is so simple to make and is perfect for summer parties because it can be made ahead of time and it only tastes better the longer it sits and marinates!
Pair with any summer recipe that you typically make, such as Grilled Vietnamese Chicken Wings or Grilled Flatiron Steak with Toasted Spice Vinaigrette.
Kale is all the rage now-a-days, but it can be difficult to find a really delicious recipe that calls for raw kale. The trick is to find one that allows the kale to marinate in some type of acidity so that the fibers can break down before it is consumed. This is most commonly lemon juice. It also helps if you can massage the juice into the leaves for a bit before you let it sit. This recipe by Damn Delicious calls for Meyer lemons, but regular lemons can be substituted. I like to let the salad marinate in the dressing for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
This is a heartier side dish by Emily Wilson at Cooking Plan It filled with all of the beautiful flavors of a traditional caesar salad but mixed with noodles. If you don’t love frisee, we also make this with a spring salad mix that can be found at the typical grocery store (sometimes we have a hard time finding frisee at our market).
Pair with Spiced Chicken Skewers with Lemon Vinaigrette for a scrumptious and tasty springtime meal.
This is a heavenly yet simple salad for the fall and winter months. A gorgeous balance of crisp greens, creamy avocado, crunchy almonds and pomegranate seeds that pop in your mouth! Pomegranates are really only in season from October to February, so if you have a craving for this salad outside of those months, we usually substitute dried cranberries for the pomegranate seeds to give that acidic flavoring.
Now It’s Your Turn!
When it comes to pairing entrees with side dishes, what are your favorite go-to combinations? Leave a comment below!