Monday, March 26, 2018

30+ Simple Side Dishes To Serve With Easy Weeknight Italian Dinners

Need an easy weeknight dinner when you're crazy busy? One of my favorite solutions is to pop a high-quality frozen Italian entree in the oven and fix 1-2 quick & simple homemade side dishes to make it a well-rounded meal. Keep reading to learn more about my favorite brand that makes authentic Italian freezer meals that taste just like homemade + check out my round-up of simple side dishes that pair well with Italian-style dishes like lasagna, pasta, and more! 

30+ Simple Side Dishes To Serve With Easy Weeknight Italian Dinners

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Michael Angelo’s®. In return for my time and creative effort, I'm being compensated financially for this post. Thank you for allowing me to keep creating great content by supporting partnerships with brands I collaborate with on The Rising Spoon. As always, the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Do you have a specific season where big chores or "issues" seem to pop up one after another, dogpiling until you have a to-do list so overwhelming that you feel like saying "screw it!", cracking open a bottle of wine, and hiding your face in a huge plate of comfort food?

For me that's spring. A time of warmer temps, thunderstorms + rain (love), blooming plants...and car inspections (tags), taxes + dental checkups. Add to those normal yearly responsibilities the tendency for said things to break or change around the same time & you have a bundle of fun....errrr stress.

Also, we're moving soon-ish and our new area is currently experiencing (what I hope is temporary) issues with too much chlorine in the water. It's so bad someone contacted Erin Brockovich. Eek.

While I'm busy researching shower & sink water filters, packing my stuff, and prepping for taxes, I still have to keep us fed.

My real life solution to meals during seasons of busyness is a combo of:

One of my favorite meals to keep in my freezer for busy nights, especially when I'm craving comfort food, are Michael Angelo's Frozen Italian Entrees. You can find them in the freezer aisle under the family meals/entrees section of most grocery stores. Just look for the green boxes - they're easy to spot.

Michael Angelo's Three Cheese Baked Ziti & Vegetable Lasagna + Ideas For Simple Side Dishes

I first wrote about Michael Angelo's back in 2016, when I shared how I use their frozen lasagna with meat sauce (oh my gosh, it's so good) as an easy family dinner idea during the busy holiday season.

Their entrees are also excellent for last-minute dinner parties, or when you're traveling to a relative or friend's home and don't have access to a well-stocked fridge & pantry. Pop one of the meals into the oven, throw together a quick leafy side salad with homemade dressing + toasty garlic bread and you're done.

My favorites are the Three Cheese Baked Ziti and Vegetable Lasagna (both of which I photographed for today's post), along with the Lasagna with Meat Sauce. They also have Eggplant Parmigiana, Chicken Parmigiana, and more. I usually get the family size entrees so I have enough for two meals (when I'm only feeding my beau & me), but they also have single serving and party sizes, as well.

If you're curious which of your local grocery stores sell Michael Angelo's, click here to visit their website, and use their "where to buy" feature to search using your zip code.

Michael Angelo's Frozen Italian Meals

What Makes Michael Angelo's Different From Other Frozen Meals?

I rarely buy frozen entrees these days (pizza is the exception) because they're typically loaded with additives and preservatives; however, Michael Angelo's is different.

Their slogan is "it tastes good to say no", which means their meals contain no preservatives, no additives, no fillers, and no long unrecognizable words you can't pronounce. (Yay for real food!) The brand of frozen lasagna I grew up eating can't even come close to this. (I just checked the ingredients list on the side of the box yesterday while I was at the store. Out of curiosity, you know. Ahem.)

The other thing that makes Michael Angelo's stand head & shoulders above the rest? Their food tastes homemade. Like, made-from-scratch with love. Every bite is layered with flavor and made with high-quality ingredients like heirloom garlic, imported cheeses, and vine-ripened tomatoes from Northern California.

Frankly, their entrees have way more flavor than the four Italian restaurants nearest my home. Seriously! It baffles me that those places are still open when they hardly season their foods...but I digress.

I know how important it is these days to vote with your dollars, so when you support food companies like Michael Angelo's that use real ingredients sans the preservatives & additives, it sends a big message: we care about what's in our food and so should you.

30+ Simple Side Dishes To Serve With Easy Weeknight Italian Dinners

What to Pair with a Frozen Italian Entree For a Well Rounded Meal (And Still Keep It Easy)

My go-to sides to serve with frozen lasagna or pasta are a big leafy salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, red wine vinaigrette, apple cider vinaigrette, or blue cheese dressing. If I want the meal extra cozy, I'll fix buttery garlic bread with a crusty loaf of sourdough.

But I like to switch things up sometimes and even more so when I'm fixing food for other folks. It gives me a chance to try something new and wow them.

So, I've rounded up a list of 30+ side dishes that pair well an Italian main course, most of which can be made in 15-45 minutes start to finish, while the lasagna is baking in the oven. :)

Even if you're making an Italian dish from scratch, keep this list handy for easy side dish ideas you can pair Italian-inspired foods all year long.

30+ Simple Side Dishes To Serve with Easy Weeknight Italian Dinners

30+ Simple Side Dishes To Serve With Easy Weeknight Italian Dinners
30+ Simple Side Dishes To Serve With Easy Weeknight Italian Dinners
30+ Simple Side Dishes To Serve With Easy Weeknight Italian Dinners

Sponsored by Michael Angelo’s
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Michael Angelo's. The opinions and text are all mine.

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