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Best Sides for Pizza

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When pizza night rolls around, it’s sure to be a night of indulging on delicious pie piled high with zesty tomato sauce, stringy cheese and just the right amount of toppings. But what can you serve alongside that delicious pizza that plays the perfect supporting role? The trick to finding the perfect pizza side dish is creating something that balances out the doughy, cheesy components of your main star.

The next time you’re racking your mind for the ideal pizza companion, take some of the suggestions we’ve laid out for you below. Each one can hold its own as the perfect side dish to your pizza.

Roasted Lemony Asparagus

The hint of citrus can be the perfect complement to a pizza dinner. Pizza can sometimes be the heavy component, what with its robust character of thick crust and sauce, cheese and topping-filled body. Lighten things up with the refreshing taste that lemon brings to this side dish. The bright colors of green and yellow also help brighten the plate — because we all know we eat with our eyes before we ever bring a taste to our lips.

Ingredients:

  • Single bunch of fresh asparagus
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the asparagus. Cut the thick bottoms off — this part usually has a hint of white and is the toughest part of the plant. Toss the bottoms in the trash. Place the asparagus stalks in a shallow baking dish and coat in the olive oil, making sure they are well covered. Add the salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 20 minutes, tossing once in the middle of the cooking time.

Pull the asparagus from the oven and zest the lemon over the top. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one half of the lemon over the asparagus. Give it a good toss with tongs. Serve immediately.

Cranberry-Brussel-Sprouts

Cranberry Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Bring a bright and flavorful side dish to your pizza night with the crunchy, sweet combination of the Brussels sprouts. Slow cooking the vegetables in a skillet gives them that beautiful light brown color that pops with flavor thanks to the colorful additions to the dish. It’s the perfect supporting role to your main course.

Ingredients:

1 pound of fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries
Zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. When it’s warm, add the Brussels sprouts. Stir the vegetables every few minutes to ensure they brown evenly. The slow, low heat will allow the Brussels sprouts to develop that caramel color. After about 10 to 12 minutes, when the Brussels sprouts are tender, stir in the dried cranberries and cook for about a minute longer until heated.

Turn the heat off. Zest the lemon over the top and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Spicy Bacon Roasted Broccoli

There’s nothing wrong with adding a healthy dose of bacon fat to a crunchy side dish that highlights the power of broccoli. A tasty side to serve with your pizza, the broccoli compliments the flavors you might find in your pizza without overpowering the delicious taste of the main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of fresh or frozen broccoli
  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When you cook the bacon, set it aside to drain on a paper towel and reserve a tablespoon of the bacon grease. If you forget — or don’t get to it — opt or a tablespoon of olive oil.

Coat the broccoli in the bacon grease or oil. Toss with the red pepper flakes. Roast the broccoli for 20 to 30 minutes or until the broccoli has been gently roasted enough that it has crisped up or is slightly brown on the edges. In the last five minutes of roasting, remove the broccoli from the oven and toss the broccoli with the grated parmesan cheese and bacon crumbles. Return it to the oven for the final minutes of cooking.

When it’s done, serve the broccoli with the pizza and wow your guests with your culinary expertise.

Bright Citrus Salad

The refreshing flavors of a citrus salad heighten and complement the flavors you’ll find in your pizza. Use this side dish as a way to brighten your meal and go with your main dish without overpowering it.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups Bibb lettuce
  • 2 oranges, peeled and sliced thin
  • ½ cup roasted pecans, chopped
  • 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the lettuce and dry it. Pull it apart into smaller pieces and place it in a large salad bowl. Toss the sliced oranges on top, along the with goat cheese and pecans. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, diced shallot, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork until blended. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until it’s well coated. Serve right away alongside your main course.

Spinach-with-PeppersSpinach Salad With Peppers

A hearty spinach salad is a great complement to just about any pizza. Combine it with the sweet, crisp taste of fresh peppers and you’re looking at a salad that knows how to hold its own. You might even eat the leftovers the next day — although we can’t guarantee you’ll have any leftovers to speak of.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread cubes
  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • Your favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the bread cubes with the olive oil and minced garlic. Lay the bread cubes out on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the cubes are crispy. Don’t let them burn!

Set the bread cubes aside to cool — warm bread cubes will wilt the spinach. While they cool, toss the clean spinach into a large salad bowl. Add the bell pepper, red onion and about four to five tablespoons of the balsamic vinaigrette. Toss until well coated. Top the salad with the homemade croutons and serve immediately.

Salami and Olive Salad

Travel to old world Italy with this rustic and robust salad. It just about begs to be served with a pizza and big hugs from your Nonna. While it’s a great compliment to your pizza, it won’t steal the show from that heavenly, thick pie you’re about to serve. It just adds a nice balance to the whole meal, making you wonder how you ever ate pizza without this king of salads to serve alongside it.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups Romaine lettuce
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup salami, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ red onion, sliced thin
  • ¾ cup Kalamata olives, sliced thin
  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the Romaine lettuce and spin it dry. Add it to a large salad bowl. Add the chopped egg, salami, red onion and olives. In a small bowl, add the olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork until well combined. Pour it over the salad and toss until well coated. Serve immediately.

Carrot-SlawSimple Carrot Slaw

A fresh and bright companion to pizza, a carrot slaw can be whipped up in a hurry. It’s one of those side dishes that’s great to pull together when you don’t think you have any other ingredients on hand. It’s tasty, it’s crispy and it brightens a meal in a hurry. Plus, it incorporates the fresh flavors often associated with summer. And who doesn’t love that?

Ingredients:

  • About 6 medium-sized carrots, peeled
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Using a kitchen mandolin or a food processor, thinly slice the carrots. You want them to be thin enough that they can absorb the vinegar dressing. Set the sliced carrots aside in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar and sugar. Mix with a fork.

Once combined, pour over the carrot slices. Stir in the walnuts and dried cranberries. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and set the slaw in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Serve chilled with your pizza.

Simple Roasted Summer Vegetables

Pizza night is usually a night where you take it easy. The whole point is to let someone else do the bulk of the work while you sit back and enjoy one of your favorite meals. So when it comes to side dishes, simple is best. And nothing suits a tasty pizza quite like the wonderful flavors of roasted summer vegetables.

This recipe can be done with little effort, but it has a big impact on your taste buds and entire dinner experience. Whip these up the next time you need a pizza side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 red onion, cut into large wedges
  • 1 cup chopped yellow squash
  • 1 red pepper bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup small white button mushrooms, whole
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Make sure all the vegetables are chopped about the same size so they cook evenly. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Pour the olive oil over the top and season with salt and pepper. Toss until well coated.

Lay the vegetables out on a lined baking sheet and roast for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir at least once during the cooking process. Serve in a large bowl while the vegetables are still warm.

Parmesan-Zuccini-Sticks

Parmesan Zucchini Sticks

With flavors that complement your pizza without stealing any of the spotlight, these cheesy zucchini sticks are a great companion to your pizza. You can even dip them in marinara sauce for an added bonus. Roast them up while you wait for your pizza to arrive and you’ve got a tasty side dish you can use time and again for your pizza nights.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into sticks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, crack the egg and whisk it with the water to make an egg wash. In another bowl, mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Coat the zucchini sticks in the egg and shake off any excess. Coat them again in the bread crumb mixture. Lay the zucchini sticks out on a lined baking dish and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are cooked through. Serve immediately with a small side of marinara sauce for those who might want to dip the cheesy sticks.

Basic Arugula Salad With Parmesan

An arugula salad has bright, fresh tones of green that can heighten most dinners, but it goes especially well with the flavors found in pizza.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups arugula
  • Fresh parmesan-reggiano
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the arugula to a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together. Pour over the arugula and toss until well blended. Use a peeler, like one you might use on vegetables, to peel pieces of the cheese over the salad. You want large, flavorful chunks. Serve it immediately alongside the pizza.

Mini Fruit Pizzas

While these might be more of a dessert than a side dish, there’s nothing like the fresh note of fruit to lighten a meal and make it taste refreshing. These act as guilty-pleasure palate cleansers after you’ve had a heavy pizza dinner — and you don’t even have to worry about baking or whipping together an extensive dessert.

Kids especially love these fruit pizzas because they give them something to do that doesn’t create a huge mess. And you encourage them to eat fruit! It’s a win-win situation for your next pizza night.

Ingredients:

  • About a dozen large sugar cookies
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup sliced kiwi
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Cool Whip

Lay the cookies out on the table. Take a spoonful of Cool Whip and coat the top of each cookie with the creamy concoction. Layer the fruit, as desired, on top of the Cool Whip. It acts like an adhesive. Serve up as a DIY dessert or tasty side to your more traditional pizza dinner.

Check out some of the best side dishes for pizza

Share Your Tasty Discoveries

The next time you order one of Giordano’s classic Chicago-style pizzas, make sure you have the side dishes to serve along with this iconic dinner. Whip up one of these sides the next time you order in, and then share your favorite sides to serve with our famous deep dish pizza. We can’t wait to see what you choose!