Sometimes it seems like you only have two options when it comes to side dishes: boring or fattening. The misconception is that you can either steam some soggy, plain veggies in a pot or whip up boxed pasta dishes for a gazillion calories per serving. Let’s get something straight: there is more to the spectrum of sides than rich, cream-based starches and limp, lifeless veggies. In fact, there’s a happy medium between the two, a harmonious world where decadent and flavorful meet light and nutritious.
So, to clarify, healthy side dishes do NOT equate to ho-hum steamed vegetables.
Need proof? I’m two steps ahead of you. My Garlicky Roasted Zucchini, Broccoli, & Tomatoes w/ Ricotta is anything but ho-hum, and yet it’s low in fat and calories. It is what all side dishes aspire to be: good-tasting, good-looking, and good-for-you.
Mac and cheese, try not to be too jealous. Green isn’t your color.
The secret to the serious flavor punch of this dish is oven-roasting. It brings out the best in every vegetables, making them tender and caramelized while intensifying their flavor. I especially love what oven lovin’ does to the garlic. It become sweet, bright, and succulent. Olive oil, salt and pepper are all you need to season everything up. It’s sweet simplicity with the spotlight on the veggies.
The perfect finishing touch is a coating of creamy ricotta cheese. It blankets the veggies like a cloud of indulgence. But don’t be deceived; there’s no naughtiness here. The ricotta is fat-free, not to mention packed with protein. So you can enjoy that melted, cheesy goodness without an ounce of guilt.
All the oven-roasted goodness in combination with the creamy ricotta makes for side dish supremacy. You will love how utterly flavorful every bite is, especially since you know it’s good for you too. You don’t have to settle for frozen vegetables or a dish that will bust your belt; enjoy fresh flavors and taste bud tantalization instead.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- Don’t like my veggies of choice? Switch ‘em out for whatever you prefer.
- You can use non-stick cooking spray instead of drizzling the veggies with oil to save even more calories.
- Add some parmesan for a tangy boost.
- Fresh herbs would be a wonderful addition.
- Pile some of these veggies into a pita for a delicious meal.
Garlicky Roasted Zucchini, Broccoli & Tomatoes with Ricotta
By The Smart Cookie Cook
- 2 small heads of broccoli, chopped (I only used the florets)
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (red or orange), halved
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Spread the garlic cloves and veggies out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle evenly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown and tender, turning halfway through. Remove clove from tray and finely chop. Add to a large bowl with the veggies. Add the ricotta and mix until evenly distributed. Serve immediately.