If you’re tired of bland veggies, this creative and delicious list of Cuban side dishes will add spice to any dinner.
With 14 to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect pairing for your main dish.
Got beef? Why not serve it with fried hash stuffed potatoes, or melt-in-your-mouth malanga puree?
Chicken on the menu? That’ll work well with crunchy ham croquettes or baked plantains.
There’s a lot for vegetarians to enjoy too, with recipes for zesty roasted chickpeas, a fresh Cuban green salad, and seasoned rice with corn.
Enjoy the best of Cuban cuisine with these nutritious and tasty nibbles.
1. Baked Plantains
Plantains feature heavily in Cuban cuisine, and not just because they grow well down south.
The banana-like fruit is more like a starchy vegetable, providing bulk and a unique flavor to a range of meals.
The riper they are, the sweeter they taste, so if you want a more savory dish, go for green plantains.
If you’re using them in baked goods, yellow will work.
Here, green plantains are simply seasoned and baked until golden and crispy.
Think of these as a healthy (and irresistible!) alternative to French fries.
2. Cuban Black Beans
If your black beans are always bland, head to Cuba. Or skip the plane ticket and just check out this recipe.
These black beans are the real deal, as the recipe comes from the author’s Cuban grandmother.
The beans are simmered until perfectly tender, then mixed with sauteed onion, pepper, and garlic.
Throw in some cumin and oregano for a delightful dish that’s perfect as a side or all on its own.
3. Rice With Corn
Cuban cuisine is nothing if not creative, making the most of standard staples and transforming traditional grains into something tasty and tempting.
If you see arroz con maize on the menu in Havana, order it.
You’ll get a heaping bowl of fluffy rice, dotted with chunks of tender sweet corn.
Simply flavored with green onions and olive oil, it’s easy, quick, and very yummy.
4. Cuban Yuca
Also known as cassava, yuca is a starchy root veg with a subtle sweetness.
Here, it’s boiled until soft then simmered in a zesty citrus and garlic sauce.
Locals call it ‘yuca con mojo,’ and it’s easy to see why. There’s plenty of meal-related mojo in this dish.
5. Fried Hash Stuffed Potatoes
Crispy. Fried. Potato. Balls.
I shouldn’t really have to say more than that, but if you still need convincing, these delightful bites also contain a spicy meat filling.
Just make them already!
6. Roasted Chickpeas
You don’t need to do much to chickpeas to turn them from humble legume into show-stopping side.
Just drizzle with olive oil, add a sprinkling of sea salt, and bake them until crispy.
They’re a healthy, protein-packed treat that’s great for parties, game days, and those times you just need a nibble.
7. Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Sides aren’t just for supper. Sometimes you want a light bite to accompany lunch, or weekend brunch.
That’s when you need this pea salad recipe.
The black-eyed peas add protein and just the right amount of bulk, while red peppers, corn, and cucumbers add fresh flavor (and plenty of colors).
Drizzle with a sweet and tart dressing made from fresh mango and citrus fruits.
It’s the best of summer in a salad.
8. Fried Green Plantains
Also known as tostones, these are a Cuban spin on fried potatoes (or fried green tomatoes if you’re from the southern states).
It couldn’t be easier to get a crave-worthy, salty snack.
Just slice up some plantains, fry until golden, and then ‘smash’ them (my favorite part) to get that perfect mix of crispy shell and soft center.
9. Cuban Ham Croquettes
If you think croquettes involve too much work for a side dish, think again.
This easy recipe will guide you through whipping up a quick ham and bechamel dough before coating with cracker crumbs and frying until golden.
They’re crispy on the outside and creamy and gooey on the inside.
You’ll eat these as a side, appetizer, post-lunch snack, pre-dinner nibble, and maybe even breakfast.
10. Roasted Zucchini
Fresh zucchini is amazing in the summer, and even more so when it’s combined with paprika, chili, and cumin, as in this amazing Cuban recipe.
Served with a sprinkling of Cuban cheese, cilantro, and lime juice, there’s a lot of flavor here, and a lot of asking for seconds.
11. Mashed Plantains
Also known as fufu, this is a fun dish that combines mashed plantains with some added flavor-boosters.
Simply boil the plantains until tender, then mash them up with bacon, onion, and garlic.
You can use this as stuffing for your next turkey, or just serve it up as a delicious and hearty side.
12. Malanga Puree
Malanga is another potato-like root veggie. It’s just as versatile as your average spud and tastes great whether fried, baked, roasted or mashed.
It’s especially awesome whipped into a soft puree and teamed up with garlic brown butter.
13. Cuban Green Salad
Cuban cooking isn’t all starchy vegetables and dense grains.
In the warmer weather, everyone likes a good salad, and the Cubans are all about eating their greens.
Getting more fruits and vegetables in your diet isn’t a chore with this fresh salad mix.
A flavorful twist on a classic green salad, it combines two types of leafy lettuce with black beans, caramelized onions, avocado, and a lime vinaigrette.
14. Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds
This super easy, and super tasty, recipe features only four ingredients, and you can prep everything in just 5 minutes.
Simply slice your potato into thick rounds, season with spices, and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake to golden perfection, and you’ll have a satisfying side that’ll get everyone talking (and eating)!
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