65 Healthy Vegetable Side Ideas + Vegetable Medley Recipe

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Here are some Fresh is Real approved healthy vegetable side ideas, with a bonus creamy Vegetable Medley Recipe. All recipes are plant-based and adaptable to be allergen-friendly.

For inspiration, reference this curated list of gluten-free and vegan vegetable dishes for healthy side ideas. The recipes are from talented food bloggers, and some are by Fresh is Real.

Table of Contents

Freshly harvested vegetables grown in Ottawa, Canada.
Fresh seasonal produce from a local CSA (Community Shared/Supported Agriculture)

Healthy Vegetable Side Ideas

BROCCOLI SIDES

Vegetable Taco Filling – Perfect on its own as a side or makes a great filling!

CAULIFLOWER SIDES

GREEN BEAN SIDES

Warm Winter Salad by Fresh is Real with Bok Choy, Spinach, Mushrooms, Onion, Brussels Sprouts, etc.

GREENS: COLLARD, SPINACH, BOK CHOY SIDES

BRUSSELS SPROUTS SIDES

CARROT SIDES

CORN SIDES

GREEN PEA & SNAP PEA SIDES

Healthy Butternut Squash Casserole With Sweet Potato (Vegan) by Healthy Taste of Life

ROOT VEGETABLE SIDES

SQUASH SIDES

Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes by Delightful Adventures

POTATO SIDES

ZUCCHINI SIDES

More Gluten-Free Vegan Vegetable Recipes

Garden Fresh Tabbouleh Salad by Fresh is Real

Salad Recipes

Salads can make great sides to plant-focused meals. Not all side dishes need to be warm.

The Best Gluten-Free Vegan Gravy by Fresh is Real

Gravy & Sauce Recipes

Does delicious, warm, and comforting gravy count as a side when made with all plant-based ingredients? I think it can! Vegan gravy and creamy sauces (even cold dips) pair exceptionally well with vegetable sides such as potatoes.

Rice-free and gluten-free Simple Sorghum Sourdough recipe by Fresh is Real.

Gluten-Free Vegan Bread Recipes

What about doughy sides? If you too enjoy bread with your meals, you’ll find many allergen-friendly bread recipes on Fresh is Real. Currently, these are the top 3 recipes:

Cutting techniques and cooking methods can make vegetable dishes tastier and more interesting.

How To Make Vegetables Taste Better

Here are a few tips to improve vegetable side dishes to make them taste better and be less boring.

Seasonal Produce

Cooking with the freshest local seasonal produce will make any plant-based dish taste much better. Try and use ingredients in season in your part of the world.

Vegetable Cutting Techniques

Play around with various cutting techniques when preparing vegetables. You can cut, slice, chop, mince, shred, dice, etc., to keep the textures exciting and create a more visually appealing dish.

Don’t Overcook

No matter what you’re preparing or the method you’re trying, don’t overcook your veggies to mush. Except for vegetables like potatoes when making a mash.

Cooking Methods

How you cook your vegetables can make a huge difference in how they present and taste!

Little ones love to eat with their fingers, so oven-baked or air-fried root veggies are an excellent cooking option. Plus, all you need to bake veggies in the oven is a baking sheet, so it can be an effortless way to make dinner on a busy weeknight.

Boiling and mashing potatoes, squash, carrots, rutabaga, or cauliflower is also simple, and who doesn’t love a good mash? Easy and great for the whole family!

Grilling vegetables such as courgettes, eggplant, peppers, or mushrooms on the BBQ is easy and fast!

Steaming can help maintain more nutrients in fresh vegetables, which is perfect for green veggies.

Stir-frying or sautéing can be quicker and also help to sear some veggies to make them even tastier. For some harder vegetables, such as green string beans, blanching them first will speed up the stir-frying time.

Stewing or simmering is also a fantastic way to cook lots of vegetables. Put everything in a large pot and let it simmer until ready. The Creamy Vegetable Medley recipe below is a great example. 

Add spices, fresh herbs, lemon juice, seeds, onions, etc., to make your vegetable sides more interesting.

Glaze

Drizzling a sweet maple syrup glaze is a perfect example to finish a dish and add great taste.

Fresh Herbs 

If you have fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, basil, rosemary, and mint, decorating a dish with chopped fresh herbs can jazz things up, add colour and create a beautiful freshness.

Citrus Zest or Lemon Juice 

The juice or zest of organic citruses (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit) is incredible! You can cook with zest or juice and add more once the dish is ready. Add a little to a side dish that calls for some, and taste. Adjust with more if you like a more robust citrus flavour.

Seasoning

Freshly milled black pepper, quality sea salt, organic spices such as garlic or onion powder, paprika, curry powder, and red pepper flakes, for example, are fantastic to enhance the taste of any simple vegetable dish. Add some to your dish while cooking. Add more to your preferences once ready.

Fresh Green Touches

Green onions, spring onions, chives, leeks, garlic ramps and garlic scapes are tasty alliums that one can chop up and sprinkle overtop a vegetable dish for a flavourful crunch.

Vinegar & Oil

A little olive oil or drizzle of infused oil can be a beautiful final touch to many vegetable dishes. Make sure the infused oils you choose are the quality oil with garlic, fruit or herbs. It shouldn’t have preservatives or additives. 

If you haven’t experimented with vinegar much, balsamic vinegar is excellent! A little quality balsamic vinegar can enhance the flavour of a vegan sauce or simple dish. The bonus Creamy Vegetable Medley at the bottom of this post includes a touch of balsamic vinegar, and it’s so good!

Apple cider vinegar or even rice vinegar can also be a good choice if trying to boost the acid in a recipe.

Toppings

Seeds (or nuts if not allergic) make an excellent topping for any vegetable dish, even soups. When consuming more plant-focused meals adding chopped seeds (or nuts) is a great way to add a unique chew to each mouthful of food.

Sesame seeds add a distinct taste to vegetable dishes. And, toasting them first will make them taste even better! Avoid if you have a sesame allergy. As an alternative, hemp hearts are equally wonderful.

Health Benefits of Eating More Vegetables

Eating more plants is a simple formula to living as healthily as possible. The good news is that there’s no easier way to increase your vitamin and mineral intake than by consuming various fresh vegetables and fruits in all colours with each meal.

Vitamin C, for example, is in many vegetables such as kale, broccoli, bell peppers and red cabbage. Also, the time of year you consume certain vegetables and fruits matters—the fresher and in-season the produce, the richer in minerals and vitamins they will be.

Filling our plates with fresh produce should be the focus of our meals, then including a small portion of grains, legumes, seeds/nuts and whatever else fuels your body in the best way is excellent.

How To Make Vegan Vegetable Dishes Creamy

Adding creaminess to a vegan dish without adding highly-processed ingredients can be challenging. But don’t you worry—it is possible!

What are healthier alternatives to goat cheese, a little parmesan cheese, heavy cream, cream cheese, sour cream or other types of cheese when you want to veganize a dish? A few options would be organic coconut cream, hemp/pumpkin/sunflower seeds, pine nuts or even organic cashews (if you’re not allergic to nuts).

It also depends on what you’re making: An Indian or Thai dish, for example, would work perfectly with gorgeous organic coconut cream, but in other recipes, coconut might not be a suitable ingredient.

In the bonus Creamy Vegetable Medley recipe below, sunflower seeds combined and blended with nutritional yeast, arrowroot starch and a few other ingredients create a tasty creamy plant-based sauce to compliment the veggie mixture.

The best part of most healthier creamy gluten-free and vegan sauces is that they should satisfy your comfort dish cravings without bloating you like dairy might.

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Receive a copy of the printable Grain-Free Plant-Based Guide (2 pages) when you subscribe to Fresh is Real’s newsletter. The guide will give you ideas on the foods you can consume when grain-free and plant-based.

With your subscription, you will also get a copy of the printable Flour Guide for GF Vegan Baking (5 pages) which includes a list of allergen-friendly ingredients to consider when baking homemade treats.

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Lastly, don’t forget to rate this recipe and include a comment! Sharing your feedback helps others to find the recipe! Thank you!

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Large Dutch oven with beautiful vegetable medley with vegan cream sauce.

65 Healthy Vegetable Side Ideas + Vegetable Medley Recipe

  • Author: Chantal | Fresh is Real
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 812 sides 1x
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Plant-Based, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-Free, Allergen-Friendly
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

A gorgeous, nutritious and tasty plant-based meal or side prepared with freshly harvested produce. This creamy vegetable medley also makes the perfect veggie pot pie filling! Use the ingredient list as a guide, and switch up the vegetables with what you have.


Ingredients

Scale

Creamy Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup raw organic sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup water (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or grated vegan cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch (or arrowroot starch)

Vegetable Mixture:

  • 3 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups white onions, finely chopped 
  • 1 cup leeks, finely chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, stem removed 
  • 3 cups cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 cups courgettes, medium dice 
  • 2 cups red potatoes, small dice (skin on is fine)
  • 11/2 cups celeriac, grated or finely chopped
  • 11/2 cups kohlrabi, small dice
  • 1 cup carrots, thin coin-cut
  • 1 cup green peppers, small dice
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, med dice
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon GF Tamari (or Coconut Aminos)
  • 1/41/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped (or cilantro)

Instructions

Steps to prepare and cook vegetable medley

Before you begin, gather your ingredients and prepare all your fresh produce. It will make the cooking part much faster.

  1. In a small blender (i.e. Magic Bullet), combine raw sunflower seeds, water, nutritional yeast, and starch. Blend until smooth. Set aside. TIP: For an extra creamy smooth sauce, soak the seeds in the water (or broth) while you’re preparing the vegetables. You can even soak the seeds for a couple of hours before blending.
  2. To a large Dutch oven with extra virgin olive oil, combine onions, leeks, garlic and thyme and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered, on medium to low heat. 
  3. Add the cabbage, courgettes, potatoes, celeriac, kohlrabi and carrots to the pot. Mix well and continue cooking the vegetables, uncovered, for 10 minutes. 
  4. To the same pot, add the peppers and tomatoes and mix. Season the mixture with salt, garlic powder and freshly ground pepper. Add the balsamic vinegar, Tamari, and creamy sauce and mix well. Continue cooking on low to medium until potatoes and carrots are fork tender—about 15 minutes (covered).
  5. Give the cooked vegetables a mix and taste. Add more seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder) if necessary, mix and taste again. Toss in some freshly chopped herbs like parsley or cilantro before serving.
  6. Enjoy right away, or keep covered and warm until ready to serve. Leftovers store well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in a sealed container. 

Notes

OPTIONAL: Add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes with the seasonings for a bit of spiciness.
Adding fresh peas or corn is terrific if you have some.
Add curry powder and garam masala to your vegetable mixture for a curry twist. You could even add some organic coconut cream for extra creaminess.
Balsamic vinegar alternative: Consider pickle juice, caper juice, sauerkraut juice or even a little gluten-free miso paste for flavour.

TIPS: When preparing vegetable dishes such as this healthy medley, the quantity for each vegetable can be decreased or increased. If you love cabbage and want to add an extra cup, go for it! Also, once you try the recipe once and feel that you would like more sauce, double the ingredients for the sauce next time you make the recipe. 

SUBSTITUTIONS:
White onions: Red, Spanish, yellow or even green onions
Leeks: Green onions, garlic scapes
Fresh garlic (cloves): Organic powdered garlic
Thyme: Other fresh herbs you like
Cabbage: Brussels Sprouts
Courgettes: Zucchini
Red potato: Russet or fingerling potatoes
Celeriac: Celery
Kohlrabi: Broccoli stems
Carrots: Parsnips
Green pepper: Red peppers
Tomatoes: Green tomatoes, grape/cherry tomatoes

Keywords: Vegetable Side Ideas, Vegan Side Dishes, Gluten-Free Vegan Sides, Healthy Vegetables Sides

2 Comments

  1. O.m.g.! eating this right now on top of toast. Delicious 😋🤤. And very versatile to switch out different veggies with whatever you have on hand.

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    • Hi Traci! I’m so happy you tried this recipe! I love it very much too! I could seriously eat some every day with whatever else I’m having. Soon I’ll share a pie crust recipe to make a pot pie with this exact vegetable mixture! I hope you try that recipe too! Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating! I appreciate it! Ps. How did you find the recipe?

      View Comment

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ALLERGEN NOTE

Make sure the ingredients you purchase are prepared in a facility free from the top allergens YOU AVOID. Gluten-free products should be certified GF and clearly labelled. Consult your medical professional with your dietary questions.

Even certified gluten-free ingredients such as GF oats, corn, seeds, etc., can create health problems for individuals following a GF diet. Always consult a medical professional if unsure about ingredients for your needs.