At our house, the festive fall and early winter season is all about refocusing our efforts on cooking, inviting friends and neighbors over for brunches and dinners to reconnect after a hectic summer, and hosting holiday meals or crafting dishes to bring to the houses of other holiday hosts.
The uptick in social events revolving around food, combined with the many different vegetables available during the fall harvest season, make cooking a real joy at this time of year.
Sometimes the most difficult part is deciding which of the many vegetables crammed in your fridge you want to use in a recipe.
This is also the time of year when sugar, junk food, and other holiday treats appear at every turn. That’s why it’s important to double down on eating your vegetables, so you don’t feel guilty when you do indulge in a few gingerbread cookies or a coworker’s famous chocolate beet cupcakes.
Healthy veggie side dishes are the perfect opportunity to let the tasty and colorful vegetables of fall and early winter take center stage.
And the more vegetables in a side dish, the more healthy it is in my book. (We recently counted eight different vegetables in one dinner at our table!)
The following healthy veggie side dishes have been gathered from some of my favorite food and garden bloggers.
10 Healthy Veggie Side Dishes From the Garden
#1: Arugula, Dried Cherry and Wild Rice Salad with a Zippy Lemon Dressing
Arugula is a very cold hardy salad green that I always make sure to grow in my fall garden. That means I usually have plenty to harvest throughout the fall and even into the holiday season. Adding wild rice to this salad makes it hearty enough to serve as a main dish on a busy weeknight, or bring as a potluck contribution to a party.
by Cookie and Kate
#2: Roasted Root Vegetables with Rosemary and Honey
Root vegetables are easy to grow for fall and winter recipes and very common at local farmers markets. Sellers at our market in Wisconsin regularly stock sweet and regular potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and radishes all winter long. We often add tofu or another protein like salmon to this dish to make it filling enough for a main dish on a weeknight.
by Garden Therapy
#3: Super Kale Salad
If you’ve been wondering how to use all of the kale you’ve been growing, or just want to include more kale in your diet but don’t know how, the miracle of massaged kale salads might be just what you need.
Massaging the kale completely transforms it from that waxy garnish into a savory, smooth and filling salad that deserves to be center stage at the dinner table.
This one’s from my site!
by The Creative Vegetable Gardener
#4: Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Apples
Brussels sprouts and apples aren’t two things I’d normally put together while eating dinner, but this combination works really well! The sweetness of the apples contrasts perfectly with the earthiness of the Brussels sprouts and other ingredients.
Brussels sprouts take a loooong time to grow in the vegetable garden (over 120 days!), but come fall they definitely seem worth it. I leave mine in the ground until we get a few hard frosts which bring out the natural sweetness in the sprouts. I’ve even been known to wait until after the first snowfall to harvest mine.
by 101 Cookbooks
#5: Pumpkin Cornbread
Because chili is on our regular winter dinner rotation I’ve collected a few favorite cornbread recipes over the years. But, adding pumpkin as a secret ingredient was a new concept for me! It makes the bread a little more moist and hearty, which goes great with chili.
by Healthy Homespun Living
#6: Marrakesh Carrot Salad
Most years I harvest carrots from my garden into early December. I have a few fun photos of me digging up carrots from garden beds in the snow. I like to use the cold outside temperatures of fall and early winter to keep my carrots crisp and sweet.
In my opinion, sometimes carrot salads can be a little to much, well, carrot! I love this salad because it calls for adding lentils, feta and dates. Somehow they all combine together to make a magical salad that looks beautiful and tastes amazing.
by Sprouted Kitchen
#7: Roasted Parsnip Soup with Apple and Rosemary
One of my first memories of my husband is from the farm where we met. We spent an early spring day digging up wild parsnip side by side and talking in the bright sun. The chef that night really wanted the roots for a special dish she wanted to serve for Passover.
While overwintered parsnips are a special treat in early spring, I also like to eat them in fall and winter. They’re easy to find at our local farmers markets and grocery stores. This recipe is a paired with a ramp pesto, but it also a great excuse to use the garlic scape pesto you froze in summer!
by Lovely Greens
#8: Roasted Beet Salad with Spinach and Herbs
You planted a crop of fall spinach, right? No!?!? Well, you definitely have to put it on your planting list for next year. I never tire of spreading the wonders of fall and winter spinach near and far. Did you know it can survive the winter in cold climates (like my zone 5 Wisconsin garden) and starts to re-grow in spring?
It’s amazing and you can read all about it here.
I usually have a pretty robust crop of spinach in my garden by the time fall rolls around. In fact, sometimes I have more than I can possibly eat, which means we often have spinach salads for dinner!
If you also have beets in your garden this recipes calls for roasting them and adding them to the spinach with some fresh herbs and a lemon vinaigrette.
by Naturally Ella
#9: Butternut Squash and Leek Stuffing
The recipe comes from one of my all-time favorite cooking blogs, Love and Lemons. She lives in the Chicago, which is in the same climate as where I live, so her seasonal recipes track what’s available in my garden perfectly. I also love her bright photos and vegetable-centric recipes.
Butternut squash is a staple of our fall and winter cooking and recipes. I’ve never been a huge fan of conventional stuffing because it’s mostly bread with hardly any vegetables. But, this one is more up my alley with the addition of squash!
by Love and Lemons
#10: Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl
The earthiness of the wild rice and broccoli combined with the sweetness of the potatoes and topped with the bright miso sauce makes this dish one that always has me exclaiming out loud, “Dang, that’s good!” Add a protein to finish it off and this is the perfect one dish meal for a weeknight dinner.
by Smitten Kitchen
As you head back inside to spend more time in the kitchen cooking up a storm with fall vegetables in preparation for fall gatherings and holiday meals, branch out from bringing along the humdrum green bean casserole or candied sweet potatoes and try one of these healthy vegetable side dishes featuring fresh food from your garden instead.
I bet you’ll impress and delight the other guests, especially the gardeners and vegetarians!
Some of these inspiring food bloggers have published their own cookbooks. Check out the ones I think every gardener should have on their bookshelf here.
And if you’d like to create a robust fall garden to feed your cooking for many months of the cold season, check out this FREE resource:
FREE MINI COURSE: My how-to video series, Harvesting Fresh Veggies in the Snow, will teach you how to keep your garden harvests going all the way into the holiday season with the use of row covers, low tunnels and cold frames. I harvest from my garden 10 months of the year every season in zone 5. You can, too! Watch the FREE mini course here.