Six Simple Summer Sides
Happy belated Canada Day to my beloved Canadian readers! It was awesome to be back for this special holiday. I celebrated by eating from the grill and watching fireworks spatter across the sky with my family. As we celebrated we also welcomed summertime and all the lush backyard food that comes with it.
Corn and potatoes are two of my favorite things to put on the BBQ in the summer. Lucky for me, it was corn and potatoes that my parents perched on the grill next to the chicken yesterday. Lucky for you, this roundup of easy summer sides contains recipes for both, along with four other easy summery dishes, perfect for your 4th of July party or for any backyard celebration.
Crispy Grilled Potatoes
If you’re looking for a crisp-skinned potato with a smoky grilled flavor, you’ve found it. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a method:
Prick baking potatoes several times each with a fork. Put them on a plate in the microwave on high power for 3-5 minutes per potato flipping them over every now. They’re ready when the prongs of a fork can break the skin and slide easily in toward the middle of each potato. Protect your hand with a clean oven mitt to proceed immediately or you can microwave the potatoes ahead of time, cool them down and refrigerate them until you’re ready to go.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Use a knife to gently score the flesh side of each potato before liberally brushing both sides with melted butter or olive oil. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Put the potato halves skin side up on the grill over direct medium heat. Put the BBQ lid down. (Note: If your BBQ is already being used for some high-heat steaks, you can put the potatoes on a shelf in the BBQ instead. They’ll require slightly more time but they turn out just as crisply delicious.)
Grill for 7-10 minutes, until grill marks stripe the flesh and the skin has gotten all crispy. Serve with sour cream and chopped green onions.
Corn on the Cob Saltimbocca
The prosciutto here serves three purposes: 1) It protects the corn kernels from scorching on the grill; 2) It adds the saltiness that every cob of corn requires; 3) It keeps the thyme and garlic pressed up against the corn for maximum flavor transfer.
Because the prosciutto crisps so beautifully on the grill, it will probably break into pieces when you bite through to get at the corn. I therefore recommend having a grilled potato (like the one above) waiting under your chin so it can catch all those bacony bits.
Spicy Smoky Creamy Sweet Corn
The hubs and I had a corn dish similar to this one when we took a barbecue class from Kevin and Clara Bevington. Ever since then, our modified version has been a staple of our backyard meals. Note that the leftovers are perfect in a soft taco next to leftover grilled meat or fish.
Easy Skillet Bread
Everybody loves freshly baked bread and there’s nothing I love more than baking some up when we’re having friends over. However, I often find myself running out of time as the party approaches. This recipe uses bought pizza dough and so it saves a lot of time.
I prefer to use the balls of fresh dough available at some grocery stores but it also works with the refrigerated tubes. Push the dough into a well-oiled skillet, top with your favorite ingredients and bake. My favorite summer version uses slices of tomato and of mozzarella cheese. A drizzle of pesto before baking or some chopped basil as it comes out of the oven would be a welcomed addition. Get the instructions for pizza dough skillet bread here.
Garlic Toast Salad with Sundried Tomatoes
I love bread so much that I can’t stand to waste any. Use day old bread (or even burger buns!) to make this crowd-pleasing salad. Toast and then rub the bread with garlic before tossing with olive oil, lemon and sundried tomatoes. So good.
Bread Salad is perfect for summer BBQs and picnics because it’s served at room temperature but isn’t as perishable as our more usual mayo-based sides. Get the recipe for Garlic Toast Salad with Sundried Tomatoes here.
Roasted Asparagus and Potatoes with Mint and Charred Lemon
This is a spectacularly tasty and unique dish. It also combines a carb and a veg on one pan, meaning that fewer dishes are required to make the meal complete. Put the bowlful of roasted potatoes and asparagus next to a plateful of BBQ chicken and perhaps a salad. Dinner is served! (Note, if you’ve got the BBQ going anyhow, you can gill the lemons instead of charring them on the pan in the oven. Just pop them cut side down right on the grill. Leave them there until browned.). Get the recipe for Roasted Asparagus and Potatoes with Mint and Charred Lemon here.
Wow! Am I ever hungry now. I think I’m going to sneak into the kitchen for some of those Canada Day leftovers. I hope your summer is starting out brilliantly and, if you’re American, that you have a wonderful 4th of July!