7 of the Quickest - and Healthiest - Side Dishes Ever

These quick and easy spring side dishes from Food Network are here for you when you're short on time.

By: Emily Lee
Rachael-Ray-Strawberry-Salad

Rachael-Ray-Strawberry-Salad

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tara Donne, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Here’s the predicament: You’re having guests over for dinner tonight, and while you’re at the grocery store gathering ingredients for your carefully thought-out dessert and entree, you realize you completely forgot to plan a side dish. Don’t panic — we’ve all been there. 

When you’re short on time, it’s wise to avoid slow-cooking grains and zero in on the produce aisle instead. Spring peas, asparagus, edamame and fresh salad greens are just a few of the season’s lifesaving ingredients, each one quickly and easily transformed from its raw state into a flavorsome, complementary side. Here are seven of our easiest and lightest spring sides that are ready in 20 minutes or less. Tuck these ideas away in your recipe arsenal to consult the next time you’re hosting — no one will know the dish was an afterthought.

Time: 5 minutes

Rachael Ray’s simple five-minute salad embraces the flavors of spring with fresh greens, strawberries and a sweet-tart vinaigrette.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Time: 5 minutes

This salad is all about simplicity and highlights the subtle sweetness of Vidalia onions. Try to get the slices really thin — the texture and flavor will be especially delicate.

SaladBleuCheese_262.tif

SaladBleuCheese_262.tif

Food Styling: Jamie Kimm Prop Styling: Paige Hicks

Photo by: Christopher Testani

Christopher Testani

Time: 7 minutes

For less than 80 calories per serving, you can dress up mixed salad greens with Food Network Magazine’s rich buttermilk dressing that calls for pungent blue cheese, tangy sour cream, lemon and hot sauce.

GARLIC_EDAMAME_008.tif

GARLIC_EDAMAME_008.tif

Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin ,Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Time: 12 minutes

High-protein edamame benefits from the robust flavors of garlic, pepper flakes and lime juice in this quick and healthy side dish. Serve it alongside your favorite stir-fry for a well-rounded weeknight meal.

All Star Sides Spr1

All Star Sides Spr1

Greens in A White Dish on A Green Tablecloth

©Food Stylist: Simon Andrews Prop Stylist: Marcus Hay

Food Stylist: Simon Andrews Prop Stylist: Marcus Hay

Time: 19 minutes

Ellie Krieger uses low-fat milk and chicken broth to add flavor and creaminess to this lightened-up creamed spinach. The dish will take less than 20 minutes to prepare if you thaw the frozen spinach well ahead of time.

FNK_SAUTEED_ASPARAGUS_OLIVES_BASIL_H_.jpg

FNK_SAUTEED_ASPARAGUS_OLIVES_BASIL_H_.jpg

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Time: 20 minutes

The combination of savory garlic and olives plus aromatic basil brightens crisp asparagus in this 20-minute side dish. Cutting the asparagus into short pieces allows them to cook quickly.

Time: 30 minutes

Ina Garten enhances these quickly blanched green beans with olive oil and a homemade gremolata that includes lemon zest, grated Parmesan, minced garlic and parsley. Before serving, top the dish with toasted pine nuts for crunch.

Check out more quick and easy spring side dishes from our friends:

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