Lesson #5: Vegetable Side Dishes

braised baby beets

How to Cook Real Food: Seasonal Vegetables

In our home, vegetables comprise the base of any meal and most meals feature a large salad and as many as three or even four vegetable side dishes including some lacto-fermented, naturally probiotic pickles (which you’ll learn to make next week).

Vegetables are best served with fat as doing so not only increases their palatability, but also your body’s ability to best absorb the nutrients they contain.  The antioxidant activity of vegetables is increased when accompanied by fat – particularly monounsaturated and saturated fats.  Appropriate fats for cooking vegetables include fats from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals such as butter, ghee, tallow, lard or bacon fat.  They also include solid vegetable fats such as sustainably harvested coconut and palm kernel oil.  Olive oil and other liquid fats are better suited to raw uses such as for salad dressings rather than the high-heat applications used in preparing the following vegetable side dishes, though you can use it in a pinch.

Your goal this week is to prepare a handful of flavorful vegetable side dishes that your family enjoys and that you can prepare with seasonally and locally available vegetables.  In the print materials associated with this lesson, we offer charts outlining seasonal vegetables and their nutrients as well as wholesome fats and the herbs and spices that pair best with different vegetables – so make sure to check them out and record your recipes using the recipe testing sheets included in the print materials.

This installment includes:

VIDEO: braised vegetables, roasted vegetables, vegetable gratins, simple steamed vegetables

WORK SHEETS: Basic Braised Vegetables Worksheet, Basic Roasted Vegetables Worksheet, Basic Vegetable Gratin Worksheet, Basic Steamed Vegetable Worksheet, Recipe Formula for Braised Vegetables (CHART), Recipe Formula for Roasted Vegetables (CHART), Recipe Formula for Vegetable Gratins (CHART)
Vegetables as Accompaniments to Nourishing Meals, What to Look for When Choosing Vegetables, Vegetables & Their Seasons (CHART), Preparing & Serving Vegetable Sidedishes,
Roasted Winter Root Vegetables, Roasted Cauliflower, Braised Bok Choy with Miso Glaze, Roasted Tomatoes with Herbs, Spinach Gratin, Braised Kale with Sweet Cherries, Roasted Beets with Citrus Glaze, Honey-glazed Carrots, Savoy Cabbage Gratin, Red Onion Gratin


  • Identify local vegetables and their seasonal availability in your area.
  • Identify wholesome, nourishing fats and their uses.
  • Develop and prepare a recipe for braised vegetables.
  • Develop and prepare a recipe for roasted vegetables.
  • Develop and prepare a recipe for a vegetable gratin.

Master Download

Download all the recipes, tutorials and fact sheets in one file by clicking here.

Videos & Links:

How to Roast Vegetables

In this video I’ll show you how to roast vegetables, particularly good for roots and tubers. Trouble viewing the video? Click here.

How to Braise Vegetables

In this video, I’ll show you how to make a sidedish of simple braised vegetables. Trouble viewing the video? Click here.

How to Blanch Vegetables Simply

In this video I’ll show you how to blanch, butter and season vegetables for the simplest sidedish ever. Trouble viewing the video? Click here.

How Make a Vegetable Gratin

In this video I’ll show you how to prepare a vegetable gratin, a sturdy dish particularly good in winter. Trouble viewing the video? Click here.

Links Addressing Food Philosophy