If your taste buds are tired of the usual potato based and overcooked vegetable dishes that are often served as the go-to sides for main courses, why not treat them to some versatile vegan options.
It’s easy to serve up delicious Asian inspired bang bang cauliflower and an array of mouth-watering meat-free sides.
1. Bang Bang Cauliflower
Bang bang cauliflower is a vegan-friendly version of the popular Asian chicken wings street food dish. It’s so crispy and delicious that it will quickly tempt your meat loving family and friends to tuck in. This super tasty plant-based dish can be served as an appetiser, a taco filling, or as a traditional side with your favourite meat-free protein.
To make: cut a head of cauliflower into individual florets. Dip the florets into a bowl of thick, gluten-free flour and almond milk tempura style batter, and then roll around in a shallow dish of panko breadcrumbs. Each floret should be evenly coated. Space out the cauliflower on a baking tray, so that the florets are not touching. Bake in the oven until golden brown and crispy.
In a bowl, combine sweet chilli sauce with sriracha, lime juice, and honey. Toss the savoury cauliflower bites into the wickedly spicy sauce, and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander.
2. Jamaican Jerk Butternut Squash Fries
Aromatic and spicy butternut squash fries will definitely satisfy a craving for traditional chips. This healthier version boasts an addictive Jamaican jerk style seasoning on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth insides.
You’ll need butternut squash cut into even chip-like strips, olive oil, garlic and onion powders, dried thyme and parsley, allspice, paprika, salt and a healthy alternative sweetener. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, to evenly coat the fries. Place the fries in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until crispy. Serve with plant-based burgers and lashings of vegan mayo and ketchup.
You can easily adapt this vegan side by using sweet potato or zucchini instead of the butternut squash.
3. Balsamic Soy Roasted Garlic Mushrooms
Don’t be deceived by a seemingly simple and understated mushroom side dish. Vegan, low-carb and keto friendly balsamic soy roasted garlic mushrooms are caramelised, umami rich and flavour packed, and perfect for elevating a light and tasty noodle or rice based vegan lunch or dinner.
Toss the mushrooms in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dark soy sauce, chopped garlic, chopped fresh thyme and rosemary, and salt and pepper. Arrange the veggies in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning the mushrooms half way through cooking time.
To make this super quick and easy moresih vegan side dish gluten-free, swap the soy sauce for tamari. You can even make this side ahead of eating time and freeze it for oven or microwave warming.
4. Kale Quinoa Salad
Vibrant kale quinoa salad is dairy and gluten-free, fresh, nutritious and healthy. This easy to prepare vegan side is great for pimping up a baked tofu based main, and as an alternative to sandwich packed lunches.
Cook up a batch of quinoa, and cool it down by spreading the vitamin-packed, protein dense seeds on a baking sheet and popping it in the freezer for a few minutes. When ready to use, tip the quinoa into a large bowl and add cooked chickpeas or cannellini beans, grated garlic, shredded steamed kale, sliced or diced red pepper, chopped shallots and crisp raw carrots. You can also add chopped celery and cucumber, dried fruits like raisins and cranberries, and crunchy nuts.
To dress the colourful side dish, whip up a mixture of olive oil, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and some piquant curry powder, and pour over the veggies and combine. Finish off with shavings of savoury vegan parmesan style cheese.
This tasty and complex flavoured salad brightens up any meal, and keeps well for up to three days in the fridge.
5. BBQ Brussels Sprouts
It’s easy to convert the pickiest of eaters into a sprouts fan, by rustling up a BBQ Brussels sprouts vegan side dish. Barbecuing sprouts transforms their acquired bitter taste into an appetising smoky flavour.
Blanch the sprouts in boiling salted water for no more than 5 minutes. Drain and coat the veggies in a mixture of olive oil, celery salt, onion and garlic powders, and lemon zest, and season with salt and black pepper.
Heat up a grill pan and add the sprouts. Roll them around and allow the sizzle to whet your appetite. When the sprouts are all nicely charred remove from the pan and serve as you wish. This versatile BBQ style side makes an exciting addition to a hot pasta dish that is sprinkled with vegan-friendly grated cheese. And it’s also an excellent companion for bang bang cauliflower, that’s served at a special occasion dinner.