14 Fast & Healthy Whole Grain Side Dishes
Tabbouleh is a classic side dish in the eastern Mediterranean, and this recipe sticks mostly to tradition. Bulgur, tomato, parsley, and mint (all traditional tabbouleh ingredients) make up the bulk of this easy grain salad. But to amp up the nutrition and freshness, we added chopped cucumber and lettuce leaves.
Basil Quinoa Salad
Spinach and a full cup of fresh basil leaves give this grain salad a tasty green twist. The spinach base of the salad, and the basil gets pulverized in your food processor along with Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil into a pestolike sauce you'll want to put on everything! Red kidney beans add more protein (There are 8 grams per serving!) to this easy side dish salad.
Quinoa and Summer Vegetables
The key to a great salad is including a variety of flavors and textures. Otherwise, a salad can turn boring fast. This recipe keeps it interesting by combining delicate quinoa with crisp-tender zucchini and sweet peppers. Sprinkling a few almonds on top adds crunch, and cilantro leaves add bold freshness and flavor.
Mediterranean Quinoa Fried Rice
This Mediterranean recipe can become an entrée by simply topping it with a chicken breast, salmon filet, or your favorite protein. Fresh veggies, meaty eggplant, and protein-filled quinoa push this whole grain side dish to 8 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein. A bit more protein would put it into satisfying main dish territory. If you want to make this healthy quinoa recipe vegetarian, swap in vegetable broth or water for the chicken broth (and top with tofu for an entrée version).
Farro and Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto
Chopping everything into tiny bits before they go into your skillet so you get a taste of everything in each bite. Brussels sprouts and farro help make this stir-fried side dish healthy; small amounts of walnuts, prosciutto, and Parmesan cheese result in rich flavors in each forkful. Using shaved Brussels sprouts will make the prep for this side quicker, but if you can’t find them, slice regular sprouts into thin slices.
Grains & Fruit Summer Salad
This recipe might be called a “summer salad” and certainly tastes best with farmers market fruit, but you can make it at any time of year. Start by mixing the quinoa with a fresh basil dressing, then load up on fresh fruits and veggies. (Spring greens, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini, to be exact.) If you want to make this grain salad hearty enough to be a main dish, add smoked salmon to your bowl.
Winter Bulgur Salad with Olive Dressing
Two trendy ingredients team up in this easy whole grain salad. Bulgur, a whole grain common in Middle Eastern cooking, pairs with cauliflower rice to form the base of this salad. Since cauliflower rice has taken over the world, packages are readily found in the produce department, so you can skip the step of pulsing florets in your food processor.
Quinoa Salad with Squash and Mint
This easy quinoa recipe celebrates the versatility of yellow summer squash. The bright summer veggie mingles with fresh arugula and mint to make a delicious, flavorful side dish. To give it a little more zest, top with a homemade lemon juice dressing.
Greens and Barley Salad
Greens and barley give this side dish salad its name, but they’re not the only tasty ingredients involved. Carrot ribbons and cauliflower make this bowl even more enticing and add another helping of veggies. (You can never have too many.) A slightly sweet and slightly spicy vinaigrette brings all the flavors together.
Peach and Feta Bulgur Salad
Peaches go savory instead of sweet in this whole grain salad recipe. But they still burst with juice in each bite of hearty bulgur, creamy feta, and crunchy pine nuts. For even more fresh flavor, stir in a handful each of dill and mint. Your taste buds will love it.
Yes, pilaf is usually made with rice, but for a healthier side dish, make this quinoa version instead. Quinoa is higher than rice in both protein and fiber, so this side dish can make your meal more nutritious. Clearly, all the fresh veggies—mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, and grape tomatoes—help with that, too. All this healthiness is ready in 20 minutes—no complaints here.
Baby Spinach, Couscous, and Bulgur Platter
This side dish requires a little more patience. (Chilling it for a couple hours results in the best flavors.) But it delivers a double dose of whole grains. Chilling time is hands-off time, so the recipe still comes together fast. To serve, spoon a mix of bulgur, couscous, and chickpeas over fresh spinach. Chopped apple is an unexpected topping. And homemade yogurt-mint dressing adds fresh zing.
Greek Quinoa and Avocados
If your main dish lacks food groups, here's the whole grain side dish that'll save your meal. Grains, vegetables, and dairy are all accounted for in this Mediterranean-inspired recipe. Assuming your entrée is protein-based means you can throw in a piece of fruit for dessert and check off every group.
Quinoa Garden Salad
Just look at all the colors in this quinoa-chickpea side dish! All those colors are indicative of the wide array of nutrients it brings to your meal. No matter your entrée, this whole grain side will dress up your dinner plate with it's pops of color and zing of citrus.