Savory sides to pair with your next meal

Craving something super savory? Or maybe salty yet sweet? Thanks to just a handful of flavor-packed ingredients, either of these sides could turn out to be the star of your meal.

The recipes in this post were developed by Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook. Have a comment, question, or idea? Email Kate at healthycook@cspinet.org.


Garlicky Broccoli

Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

If anchovies just aren’t your thing, skip this super-simple recipe. They’re essential to the savory flavor. (How about one of these broccoli sides instead?)

Tip: If you have a white sauté pan and a clear lid (even if it’s too small or too big for the pan), use them. The white pan makes it easier for you to see when the garlic just starts to turn golden in step 1. With the clear lid, you can make sure that the steamed broccoli doesn’t overcook in step 3.

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 anchovy fillets
a generous pinch red pepper flakes
a few grinds black pepper
4 cups broccoli spears

  1. In a large pan over medium heat, heat the oil, garlic, anchovies, and red and black pepper. When the garlic just starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes, mash the anchovies with the back of a fork.
  2. Add the broccoli, spreading it out as evenly as possible, then pour in ¼ cup water.
  3. Increase the heat to high. Cover and steam the broccoli until bright green and tender-crisp, 2–3 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the water has evaporated, about 1 minute.

Per serving (¾ cup):

  • Calories: 90
  • Total fat: 7 g
  • Sat fat: 1 g
  • Carbs: 4 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Total sugar: 1 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 130 mg

Maple Sesame Winter Squash

Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

Something magic happens when you combine maple syrup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. The dynamite flavor combo works beautifully with any winter squash (butternut, honeynut, delicata) or with pumpkin.

Don’t want to wrestle with chopping a hard winter squash? Use a 20 oz. package of pre-cut butternut squash and reduce the cooking time in Step 1 to 20–25 minutes.

2 small acorn squash, seeded and cut into 8 wedges each
2 Tbs. sunflower oil (or other neutral oil like grapeseed, safflower, or peanut)
1 Tbs. maple syrup
1 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs. sesame seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. On a large lined, rimmed sheet pan, toss the squash with the sunflower oil. Arrange in a single layer with one of the cut sides down. Roast on the lowest rack until tender, 25–30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and toasted sesame oil.
  3. Remove the squash from the oven and flip each piece over. Spoon the syrup mixture over each piece of squash. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Return to the oven and broil until the seeds start to brown, 1–3 minutes.

Per serving (4 wedges):

  • Calories: 170
  • Total fat: 11 g
  • Sat fat: 1 g
  • Carbs: 19 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Total sugar: 7 g
  • Added sugar: 3 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 150 mg
Photos: Kate Sherwood/CSPI.

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