3 Unconventional Vegetable Sides

Move over green beans. Step aside potatoes! And corn… well, we weren’t even going to mention you because technically you’re a grain, but you can take a break from the dinner plate as well. There are some new vegetables in town! It’s time to add some pizzazz to your dinner sides by adding tender asparagus, hearty taro root, and delicious spaghetti squash to your rotation.

Sautéed Asparagus

Before you cook your asparagus, the ends must be trimmed. The best way to do this is to take the asparagus in your thumbs and forefingers and apply pressure between your thumbs, near the end of the stalk—usually just above the purplish section—until it snaps. If the asparagus does not break easily, move your thumbs and forefingers up the stalk until it breaks more easily—it should snap fairly easily, rather than be forced to break. This step eliminates the woody ends that are un-chewable no matter how long the asparagus is sauteed.

Snapping asparagus is a bit of an art—it takes time and practice to determine how much pressure is just right.

You might see chefs on television who line up all their asparagus on a cutting board before chopping off the entire bunch’s ends. Despite how quick and easy this looks, this is not the best technique. Slow down and take a few minutes to snap each and every asparagus end. Your results will be superior.

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Roasted Taro Root

If the first thing you thought of when we said “taro root” was “what the heck is that?” you are probably not alone. Taro root is a tuber that is consumed in many parts of the world, including Asia, Central and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean. If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, try your local ethnic market.

Be careful with raw taro as removal of the hairy outer layer can cause skin irritation. Use vinyl gloves while peeling to protect your skin. Also, note that raw taro is toxic, so always cook before consuming.

There are large varieties of taro root chopped into manageable 8-10 inch sections, but for this recipe, you’ll want to find the smaller varieties that look like small, hairy, Russet potatoes or round versions of yucca. The smaller taro yields a better texture for this dish.

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Sautéed Spaghetti Squash

We’ll admit it right here and now… this is the recipe that was voted “Least Likely to Be Made” because it requires some time and elbow grease. But we promise you that this recipe changes spaghetti squash’s not-so-sure-about-this texture to something much more palatable.

Getting my 7-year old to eat fruit or vegetables of any sort has always been a struggle. He’s super picky about texture and flavor, but this is one vegetable dish that he always eats willingly and with enthusiasm! – Stefani

The first hurdle in this recipe is the halving of the squash.

  • First, lay your squash on its side on a large cutting board. With a bread knife, cut off the stem end to make a flat surface.
  • Next, turn the squash onto the cut end and score a few inches across the opposite end of the squash where you want to halve the squash. Then, using downward, rocking pressure, continue to cut the score deeper and deeper.
  • Eventually, you’ll finish cutting through the end flesh and only be cutting the flesh and rind on the sides. Keep rocking and moving your knife in and out, up and down, and from side to side until you’ve cut all the way down.
  • Now that you have two halves, use a large metal spoon to scoop out the seeds.

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Turn your dinner veggies from bland and boring, to delicious and delectable. With some extra time and effort, you may find a new favorite vegetable side dish.

Looking for more unconventional vegetables? Try Fermenting: Benefits and Recipes and Thanksgiving Dinner: Classic Side Dishes With a Twist.

Photo Credit: Stefani

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Stefani was raised in California; with her husband hailing from South Carolina, they've settled in the middle and are now raising three Texans. She loves classical homeschooling, great books, period dramas, modifying recipes, simple living, deep thinking, and cuddling up with her family to watch silly YouTube videos.

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