Anyone can toss some burgers or chicken on the grill, but for me, summer is all about the sides.
Mother Nature, and local farm stands, provide all the raw material we need to create fabulous side dishes for picnics and cookouts: corn, tomatoes, zucchini, basil, beans.
With end-of-the-season gatherings just a couple of weeks away -- plans to be planned, and menus to be made -- here are ten of my favorite side dishes using the bounty of summer:
Zucchini with golden raisins, pine nuts and lemon (in the top photo) leads the list of dishes that take advantage of the abundance of zucchini in summer, but also can brighten up the winter table. My favorite green salad, above, begs for nectarines, which in New England are a summer-only fruit.
If barbecue or grilled burgers are your thing, this blue cheese cole slaw offers a twist on the traditional.
Cucumber ribbon salad features rice vinegar, a light flavor that goes perfectly with grilled fish or chicken.
Fennel, pear and olive salad makes the most of the pears that are just beginning to ripen in my garden.
Made with low-carb Dreamfields pasta, this broccoli, basil and pasta salad is a triumph of man (me!) over Nature (Japanese beetles, rabbits, deer), and showcases the little bit of basil that survived in my garden.
At the same time tomatoes are at their peak, eggplant peaks, too. These "poor little eggplants", an Italian favorite, actually taste best when made with Japanese eggplants.
Cannellini vinaigrette comes together in five minutes, thanks to a head start from canned beans.
Sometimes I like to put an Asian spin on my summer cookouts, and when I do, this stir-fried corn with red pepper, ginger and garlic fits right in.
If you have a grill pan or basket for cooking vegetables, these spicy green beans with ginger and garlic get a bit of a smoky flavor when stir-fried on the grill.
Happy end-of-summer entertaining!
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