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Favorite summer sides from The Perfect Pantry

Zucchini with raisins and pine nuts 

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:

My favorite green salad

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.

Blue cheese coleslaw

If barbecue or grilled burgers are your thing, this blue cheese cole slaw offers a twist on the traditional.

Cucumber ribbon salad 

Cucumber ribbon salad features rice vinegar, a light flavor that goes perfectly with grilled fish or chicken.

Fennel and pear salad

Fennel, pear and olive salad makes the most of the pears that are just beginning to ripen in my garden.

Broccoli, pasta and feta salad

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.

"Poor little eggplants"

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 bean vinaigrette

Cannellini vinaigrette comes together in five minutes, thanks to a head start from canned beans.

Corn and red pepper stir fry

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.

Spicy green beans 

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!

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I could make a meal with one of each. Seasonal deliciousness.

Each if these looks wonderful. I'm saving them away for our downunder summertime Christmas in December.

I think I made the cucumber salad recipe last year, and it was delicious! And now I'm looking at your poor little eggplant recipe might be perfect for my lone little eggplant in the garden.

Yay! It's summer!!!

Oh yum! I need to try that cucumber salad.

I want to eat all of these. (Especially right now because I need to eat breakfast. Side dishes for breakfast; works for me!)

The good thing about this dishes is not the fact they look great but they are easy to make... anybody at home can make them.. you can only eat so many burgers and hotdogs, making something healthier and fresh like this its much better.. thanks

What about in-sides? While sides at a BBQ are excellent, you can also supply some healthy salad to go inside the burger bun - that way your guests get a double dose of goodness :)

Great reminders of good, fresh and easy food! Thanks for the reminder about beans on the grill in a grill basket! I tend to do the same veggies each time...onions, zucchini etc...ironically cooked those last night but I stepped away for too long and ended up with very charred veggies - oops!

I agree - it's all about the sides.... summer grilling would be boring without them... Great collections!

Everyone: I hope you enjoy the last days of summer with some of these side dishes!

Yummy looking grub!

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