Summer means it’s time to clean off the barbie and move some of your cooking outdoors. Whether your main dish is a steak or a plant-based burger, side dishes may end up as the stars of the show! I asked my friends to tell me their favorites, and their suggestions were diverse, from the classic potato and macaroni salads, deviled eggs, grilled corn on the cob, fruit salad, coleslaw, and carrot-and-raisin salad to more adventurous eats like shishito peppers, a beet, carrot, and apple salad with a lemon and olive oil dressing, and an Asian cucumber salad. Yum!
I grew up watching my parents work together on their go-to potato salad, each tasting, consulting, and then deciding on the addition of more salt or another ingredient to get it just right. It was a basic potato salad they made for decades without any written recipe, but it was a must-make for any summer gathering. (Great, now I’m hungry for potato salad!)
We’ve curated a few of our favorite side dish recipes to help get your summertime supper specialties going this summer. We hope you enjoy them and share your favorites with us on the Neighbors Facebook page!
Creamed Corn Bread
Written by Tracy Patrick Roy
As a southerner, I ate a lot of cornbread growing up. But I would get particularly excited for my dad’s cornbread because he added sugar and a can of cream-style corn. He is from the Midwest, which is why he puts sugar in his cornbread, and many in the South would balk at that. It’s a never-ending debate! You can make cornbread with regular milk and without the creamed corn and sugar, but these ingredients are what give it a moist decadence and slight sweetness.
2 cups self-rising yellow cornmeal mix
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 can cream-style corn
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, divided
Heat a 10-inch skillet in a 425-degree oven until piping hot.
Mix cornmeal mix and sugar in a large bowl.
Mix corn, melted butter, eggs, and buttermilk in a medium bowl.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Take the hot skillet out of the oven, and melt 1 tablespoon of butter in it.
Pour the mixture into the skillet and reduce oven temperature to 375 F.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. For a browner top, put the oven on broil for 3 minutes.
When pulled from the oven, brush the final tablespoon of butter on top of the cornbread, slice, and serve hot with collard greens or crockpot beans.
If you don’t have cornmeal mix, use 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup yellow medium-grind cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.
Substitute 1/3 cup canola oil for the butter.
No skillet? Use a cake pan or loaf pan, but don’t preheat. You just won’t have the crispy edges that a screaming hot skillet creates.
Written by Cheryl Fallstead
Corn on the cob is an ideal complement to anything you might be grilling — and since you have the barbecue fired up, why not keep the house cool and cook your corn on the grill, too? There are many techniques for creating perfect grilled corn, including cooking ears in the husk, wrapped in tin foil, or placing the “naked” ear of corn right on the grill. Some folks recommend putting flavorings on the corn first and others spice it up after it is grilled. From home barbecues to festivals and fairs, Mexican-style grilled corn is very popular, with its topping of mayonnaise, sour cream, and cilantro, garnished with chile powder, grated dry cheese, and a squeeze of lime, making it a flavor fiesta.
I’m shooting for a lighter, simpler grilled corn, but if you search for grilled corn on the internet, you’ll find enough ideas to give you a different technique each time you cook out.
Basic Grilled Corn
• Peel back the husks and remove the silks. Pull the husks back up to cover the kernels.
• Soak the ears of corn in lightly salted cold water for about 10 minutes.
• Cook the ears on a hot grill for 15 – 20 minutes, turning them frequently. They’re done when the kernels are soft to the touch or easily punctured with a fork or knife.
• Top with your favorite flavors, from the time-honored classics of butter, salt, and pepper, to flavored butters and fiery spices.
Peppery pickled pasta salad
Written by Daniel Gonzales
For many years, I worked for a Sicilian family at their restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada. While the food at the restaurant was fantastic, it was their family gatherings that I always hoped to get invited to, because I knew I would be introduced to delicious dishes I had never heard of before. One of my favorites was a cold pasta salad with a perfect pesto dressing. Now, being from New Mexico, I felt the need to add a little bit of green chile to the pesto to give it that little bite of spice I love, and I replaced the piñon with pecans — but both are delightful!
Ingredients for the salad
1 pound farfalle (bowtie) pasta
¾ cup sundried tomatoes
8 ounces mozzarella cheese (cubes or spheres)
½ cup red onions
¼ pound chopped fresh basil
¾ cup pickled and sliced Calabrian peppers
1 cup grilled artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons capers
½ cup green olives
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Fill a soup pot with water and add salt (pasta water should be salted like the ocean). Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente, approximately 8 minutes. Once pasta is cooked, immediately place it in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain the pasta, and then place all ingredients except the shredded parmesan cheese into a large bowl. Add the dressing (recipe below) and gently toss it into the salad. Finally, top the salad with the shredded parmesan cheese.
Ingredients for dressing
1½ cups olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or to taste)
ground black pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon honey
½ pound basil leaves
½ cup roasted/salted pecans or piñon nuts
½ cup chopped green chile
Place all the ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender or food processor, and blend on high. Slowly add olive oil to the mixture while blending until you reach a smooth, velvety texture.
cajun grilled okra
Written by Jackye Meincke
I like okra, which is no surprise to the folks who know I grew up on a farm in Texas. I’ll take it fried, steamed, microwaved, stewed, or just about any way it’s prepared. My summer favorite is snacking on grilled okra right off the coals. Grilled okra is a quick and easy appetizer or side dish. In addition to having a great smoked flavor, grilling okra results in no slime.
I look for fresh okra that is about 4 – 5 inches long at the Farmers and Crafts Market of Las Cruces. You have to shop early, as okra sells out quickly.
Okra also is a healthy fruit — yep, fruit. Additionally, okra is low in calories and carbs, and contains some protein and fiber as well as several vitamins.
20 okra pods
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
Wash the okra pods and pat them dry. In a large bowl, combine the oil and Cajun seasoning and then toss the okra pods in the seasoned oil. Grill the pods over hot coals until they are soft or just starting to split, 5 – 6 minutes, depending on the heat. Turn them occasionally to prevent burning. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Written by Olivia Belcher
If you are looking for a fresh and easy side dish for your delicious barbecue, consider this simple variation on spinach dip. You can dip chips, veggies, or even your barbecued ribs into it! Nothing beats a yummy spinach dip and a summer barbecue.
9 ounces fresh or 12 ounces frozen chopped spinach
2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 package of Knorr vegetable soup and dip mix
Make sure your spinach is cooked, chopped, and free of any excess moisture. (Squeeze frozen spinach well!) In a large bowl, combine the spinach, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and the package of soup mix. Blend all the ingredients together until they are well combined, then cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. After it’s chilled, serve it in a fresh sourdough bread bowl and watch it disappear!
Originally published in Neighbors magazineThis article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead