Healthy Grain Side Dish Recipes

Find healthy, delicious side dish recipes with grains. Healthier recipes, from the food and nutrition experts at EatingWell.

Staff Picks

Basic Quinoa

This foolproof recipe for perfectly cooked quinoa is fast and easy! Use cooked quinoa as a simple healthy side dish, in a salad or as a base for a delicious main dish.

Baked Rice with Roasted Corn, Peppers & Onions

Rating: 2 stars 2
This filling rice casserole, loosely based on paella, features seared corn, roasted peppers, garlic and red onions. If you like, include diced zucchini or chopped green beans as well. A flavorful roasted garlic mayonnaise makes a luxurious topping.

Easy Brown Rice

Rating: 4 stars 4
Here's the only recipe you need to make perfect brown rice every time! This healthy whole grain is great on its own as a side dish, or use it in your favorite recipes calling for cooked brown rice.

Basmati Rice & Curry Casserole (Chana aur Sarson ka Saag Biryani)

Rating: 4.67 stars 3
Biryanis are rice-based casseroles that combine a saucy meat, vegetable or legume curry with basmati rice, whole spices, nuts and raisins. This particular dish is a nutritional powerhouse, thanks to the mustard greens and chickpeas. Look for the specialty spices--cardamom pods, saffron and garam masala--in the spice section of well-stocked supermarkets or online at penzeys.com.

Basic Risotto

Rating: 4.63 stars 8
Slowly adding hot broth to arborio rice helps release the starch from the rice, giving risotto its characteristic silky, creamy texture. We add a splash of wine along with each addition of broth to give the dish a more pronounced wine flavor. If you'd prefer the wine to be more subtle, add the entire cup at the end of Step 2 and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed, then begin adding the broth. If you prefer to omit wine, use more broth in its place.

Cooked Wheat Berries

Rating: 4.14 stars 3
Contrary to popular belief, wheat berries do not require an overnight soak before cooking. Simply boil them for 1 hour to soften the kernels, which will produce their characteristically chewy texture.

Black Sticky Rice

Black sticky rice, a delicious whole-grain alternative to white rice, is purplish black in color and has a chewy texture. This recipe gives you a simple method for how to make black sticky rice. Look for it in natural-foods stores in the bulk department or with other whole-grain rice.

Bacon, Tomato & Farro Salad

Rating: 4.67 stars 3
We love farro, a high-fiber whole grain, because it cooks in about 15 minutes and has an amazing toothsome texture perfect for grain salads. In this healthy farro salad recipe we combine it with smoky bacon, sweet cherry tomatoes and fresh basil for an easy side dish or light lunch. Look for farro at natural-foods stores and gourmet food markets

Wild Rice Pilaf

This healthy rice pilaf combines wild rice with brown rice for a nutty, delicious side dish that pairs perfectly with roasted salmon, chicken or pork. Bonus: Nutrient-rich wild rice has a higher protein content than many other whole grains.

Mexican Cauliflower Rice

Rating: 4 stars 1
Restaurant-style Mexican rice (sometimes called Spanish rice) gets a healthy, low-carb makeover in this recipe that swaps white rice for riced cauliflower. Cooked with other flavorful ingredients like tomatoes, jalapeño and cilantro, this makes the perfect, festive side for taco night.

Slow-Cooker Quinoa-Summer Squash Casserole

Rating: 4.18 stars 3
As this layered slow-cooker squash casserole recipe cooks, the liquid from the tangy tomatillo salsa and summer squash is absorbed by the quinoa, adding tons of flavor to the final dish.

Japanese Shiitake & Vegetable Rice (Takikomi Gohan)

Dashi gives this vegetable rice recipe its savory depth. Rinsing the rice may seem like an extraneous step but it removes some of the surface starch for fluffier rice. And soaking the rice in seasoned dashi before cooking infuses the dish with more flavor.
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Inspiration and Ideas

Side Dish Recipes for Whole Grains
Our whole grain side dishes feature hearty whole grains like barley, quinoa and bulgur. Whole grains are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients and are also rich in carbohydrates, the body's main fuel supply. Research shows that filling up on high-fiber foods may help you prevent weight gain—or even encourage weight loss. You'll feel full longer with these delicious and healthy side dish recipes featuring whole grains.
Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Kale & Rice
Rating: Unrated 12
You can vary the filling by substituting robust mustard greens or collards, or milder greens, such as spinach, escarole or Swiss chard. (Cook the greens until just tender in Step 2.)
Easy Fried Rice

Mixed frozen vegetables make this healthy fried rice recipe quick, easy and economical. If you don't have leftover cooked rice on hand, be sure to thoroughly cool your rice before adding it to the wok--if it's too warm, it creates too much steam and sticks to the wok. To quickly cool warm rice, spread out on a large baking sheet and refrigerate while you prep the rest of your ingredients, about 15 minutes.