Sides is a very broad category of dishes and encompasses things as simple as baked beans for a picnic or mushroom risotto for a dinner party. Sides dishes help form a complete meal, so it is important to think about the meal as whole when choosing sides. They can all share a similar theme, like roasted potatoes with roast chicken, or contrast each other, like zesty coleslaw with barbecue ribs.
While the sides need to complement the main dish, they also need to work with each other. Generally, for a meal with three side dishes, think about the food groups as a guide. For instance, with a meat-heavy main course, you could serve a fruit salad, a warm vegetable dish, and a starch dish like potatoes or a roll.
Since this is the most popular request when bringing food to a party, some people like to have one or two solid side dishes that they always bring. This way, they know exactly how to make it and do not have any surprises before the event. Others have a different strategy, preparing a side based on the main course or based on what they know about the other guests’ preferences. On the pages below, you can find suggestions for traditional and unique side dishes that are tested guest favorites.