June 4, 2018
Aside from the hum of fans and air conditioners and the ‘thwick-thwack’ of flip-flops, nothing signals the start of summer more than the intoxicating aroma of steaks and burgers sizzling on the grill. Outdoor dining in the warm weather provides the perfect opportunity to bring family and friends together in a festive celebration of grilled meat.
While meats and other proteins usually take center stage at backyard barbecues, side dishes are meant to give colorful and healthy choices to guests and they can actually make or break a meal. Whether you’re a fan of creative takes on toss-and-serve salads or more elaborate recipes, we’ve got a selection of exciting side dishes that will surely steal the spotlight at your next barbecue.
Prep posh potatoes
There’s no denying that potatoes and grilled meat go together like sunshine and good times. As the key pillar in the traditional BBQ side dish triumvirate of beans, potato salad and coleslaw, most people really like spooning up plenty of nutrient-rich potatoes. For easy preparation for a crowd, just wrap baking potatoes in foil; they’re done when a knife slips in and out easily (Don’t forget to poke a hole in the potatoes before you cook them too, or you might find yourself facing potato fireworks!). Seasoned potato wedges are also a solid side to pair with a beautifully grilled steak.
If you want to elevate your spud game, try new techniques and flavors, like dusting cinnamon mixed with salt on shoestring fries (served with cherry ketchup!) or using a Middle Eastern spice blend and fava beans in a za’atar potato salad.
Chew on cool coleslaw
Another simple side that can sizzle in its supporting role to beef burgers or a juicy brisket, a zesty coleslaw is a perfect addition to any BBQ party. Forget the basic, over-dressed ones smothered in mayonnaise that no one really loves, and try something new. Shred broccoli stems or Brussels sprouts, or look for these pre-shredded in the produce cooler section. Like a kick to your sides? This spicy horseradish coleslaw is sure to wow your diners. For an East-meets-West fusion flavor that’s tangy and creamy, try the Asian broccoli coleslaw with peanut ginger dressing.
All hail asparagus!
High in nutrition and flavor, asparagus is a versatile little spear that can add unexpected depth to salads. Both the crunchy stalks and the tender tips can be used in a variety of ways, whether you’d like to go ultra fancy with butter spears topped with truffles and duck egg or a super-simple garlic parmesan roasted asparagus. You can also toss asparagus with feta cheese and dates or chop it up and add some creamy goat cheese and quinoa for an awe-inspiring salad (and some serious health rewards).
Cook up some southern cornbread
Freshly baked cornbread is and will always be a crowd-pleaser. This southern standby builds on simple ingredients — cornmeal, eggs, flour, buttermilk — that can be baked in a hot skillet in the oven, or baked over smoky coals in a closed barbecue for that authentic old south taste.
Even though it takes a little more effort and creativity, a few different ingredients and prep work can help elevate this fluffy comfort food to new levels. For a sweet, dessert-style take, use caramelized apples and onions or toasted walnuts and maple syrup. Newer savory versions can include bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions or spicy jalapeño for a real flavor punch that will go perfectly with your favorite Alberta beef ribeye, a juicy burger, or barbecue ribs.
Summer is coming to an end and the bright, juicy flavours of the sunniest season will soon be replaced with the earthy, rich textures of fall.
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When you’re grilling this summer, you could stick to cooking chicken legs, thighs or breasts, but why not switch it up and try chicken kabobs?