Simple Sautéed Vegetables

by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 3 votes
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“What should I serve on the side?” is one of the most common questions I get. So it’s never a bad idea to have an arsenal of simple side dishes that you know how to make by heart and that can be paired with just about anything you cook. These simple sautéed vegetables are exactly that. They’re easy, colorful, delicious, flexible, and go with just about anything you make for dinner.

Sautéed vegetables in a skillet with a spatula

This Recipe is Flexible!

This is actually more of a technique than a recipe because you can swap in just about any vegetable or seasoning that you have to make this match your meal. See all my vegetable and seasoning ideas below!

Vegetable Options

I used carrots, red bell pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash for my vegetable sauté, but you can swap in so many different types of vegetables. I suggest aiming for a variety of colors and textures, and chopping them into different shapes to keep things interesting.

The only other thing to know is to add hard vegetables to the skillet first and softer vegetables to the skillet last, so they can all achieve a similar level of doneness. Here are some great vegetable options:

  • Broccoli
  • Red or Yellow Onion
  • Cauliflower
  • Green Beans
  • Snow Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus

While this quick sauté is a great option for most vegetables, here are a few that I’d avoid for this method:

  • Potatoes (unless pre-boiled)
  • Tomatoes (too watery, will create a wet cooking environment)
  • Leafy Greens (you might get away with kale, but others are probably too delicate)
Sautéed Vegetables on a plate with chicken and rice

Seasoning Options

I uses a super simple combination of basil, oregano, salt, and pepper for my vegetables because that mix goes with just about anything. But you can totally switch that up and add different seasonings to match your meal. Here are some other seasoning ideas:

See this sautéed vegetable technique used in my Cajun Sausage and Vegetables meal prep.

High Heat is Key

The one true key to making these sautéed vegetables turn out well is to make sure you use a really hot skillet. Medium-high works well for me, but this can vary depending on your cookware and the individual settings on your stove top. The skillet should be hot enough that water sprinkled on the surface sputters and spatters, but not hot enough that the oil begins to smoke.

Why high heat? High heat ensures that any moisture coming out of the vegetables evaporates quickly, instead of pooling in the skillet, which would cause the vegetables to simmer and soften instead of staying nice and crisp.

Side view of sautéed vegetables in the skillet
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Simple Sautéed Vegetables

5 from 3 votes
These simple sautéed vegetables are an easy, delicious, and colorful side dish that can go with just about anything you make for dinner!
Side view of sautéed vegetables in the skillet
Servings 4 1 cup each
Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 3 carrots ($0.42)
  • 1 zucchini ($0.72)
  • 1 yellow squash ($0.78)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper* ($0.75)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1 Tbsp butter ($0.07)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional) ($0.04)

Instructions 

  • Peel and slice the carrots. Chop the zucchini and yellow squash into half-rounds. Slice the bell pepper.
  • Heat the skillet over medium-high. Once the skillet is very hot, add the cooking oil and swirl to coat the surface. Add the sliced carrots and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Next, add the bell pepper, zucchini, squash, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes more, or just until the vegetables begin to soften. You want to take the raw edge off the vegetables, but not cook them to the point where they are limp.
  • Once the vegetables have just begun to soften, remove the skillet from the heat. Add the butter and toss until it has melted and coated the vegetables. Finally, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, give them a taste and adjust the salt or pepper as needed. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley just before serving.

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Notes

*You can use a full pepper. I happened to have a leftover half pepper from something else, which it’s listed as ½ in the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 102.55kcalCarbohydrates: 9.98gProtein: 2.15gFat: 6.9gSodium: 166.88mgFiber: 3g
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How to Make Simple Sautéed Vegetables – Step by Step Photos

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board

Start by chopping all of your vegetables ahead of time because this dish cooks quickly and you won’t have time to do any chopping after the cooking begins. I used 3 carrots, one zucchini, one yellow squash, and half of a red bell pepper (I had that left over from something else). Whatever vegetables you choose, aim for a variety of colors and textures.

Carrots being sautéed in a skillet

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Once the skillet is very hot, add 1 Tbsp cooking oil and swirl to coat the surface. Add the sliced carrots and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Since carrots are a hard vegetable and they take a bit longer to cook, they will go in before the rest of the vegetables.

Zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and herbs added to the skillet

Next, add the zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper, along with ¼ tsp dried basil, ⅛ tsp dried oregano, and ⅛ tsp garlic powder. Sauté for 2-3 minutes more, or until the vegetables just begin to soften. You want to take the raw edge off, but not cook them to the point where they are soft and mushy.

butter added to sautéed vegetables in the skillet

Once the vegetables being to soften a bit, remove the skillet from the heat and add 1 Tbsp butter. Toss until the butter is melted and coating the vegetables.

Finished sautéed vegetables in the skillet with a spatula

Finish the vegetables by seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Give them a taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Garnish with chopped parsley (optional) and serve!

Close up side view of sautéed vegetables in the skillet

Eat the rainbow!

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Comments

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  1. This one is fabulous! I like to keep in hand a large bag of frozen cheese ravioli. I cook them and pour these vegetables over hot ravioli with a bit of olive oil. Filling and nutritious. 

  2. Has quickly become one of my go-to side dishes when I don’t know what to pair with my meat. So good! I like to add red onion to mine :)

  3. Looks very simple and good! I know you said to avoid leafy greens but I’m thinking of adding a package of fresh chopped spinach at the very end and letting it wilt a bit.

  4. Thank you for the recipe, looks delicious. I have a question, if I want to add onion, when to add it?

    1. I would probably add onion after the carrots and before the squash and bell pepper. But ultimately it depends on how soft you like your onions. :)

  5. My local grocery store has a discount section for ugly/older produce, so this was a great way to use it all up quickly. I made it a vegetarian platter with the marinated white beans and seasoned rice recipes (beans + rice is a complete protein)! It was super yummy. 

  6. Thank you for the recipes. Im enjoying your site!! Have you ever done this with frozen zucchini/ yellow squash?

    1. I haven’t. Zucchini and yellow squash contain a lot of water, so if you freeze them and then thaw them they will get very soft and watery, so you won’t be able to get quite the same result here. :)

  7. When I do this I sometimes add tomatoes or green onion at the very end, after I turn the heat off, and just before I serve it. That way they get warm but not cooked.

  8. Just wondered about the total amount of sliced vegetables to use, like in cups? I have some broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, asparagus & bell peppers in my fridge to use! Thank you!

    1. It’s pretty flexible! You can really do any amount. :) I probably had about five cups worth in the photos.

  9. Just made this for dinner with jasmine rice! So good. I made it vegan by using vegan butter. Very easy recipe.

    1. While I haven’t used an air fryer, I would guess that it would turn out very different since the air fryer has a very different cooking environment than cooking in a skillet. Contact with a hot pan creates very different results from contact with hot air.

  10. This looks so pretty and fresh! If I want to add an onion at what point should it go in the pan?

    1. yes I agree! this needs some red onion! I am gonna GUESS after the carrots but just before the red onion? that should take out some of the bite but I am worried the moisture from the zucchini will make it too soft. But putting it in after the zucchini would leave it too hard and soften the zucchini too much. Help! Onion!

      1. sorry I was typing faster than I was thinking!
        **after the carrot but just before the ZUCCHINI”.

      2. I agree, definitely after the carrot, and just before the squash. :)

    2. I would do it after the carrots and before the zucchini and squash. :)