The wonder of Summer!
The unofficial start of summer has come and gone. Memorial Day weekend flew by in the blink of an eye and here we are in the third week of June already! Summer is just around the corner, and soon there will be no more early morning alarms, frantic packing of lunches and me repeating over and over again, “did you brush your teeth?” or the ever popular “put your shoes on!!” I know I am not alone when I say that comes June all you want is a break from the everyday sprint that is your life. It’s about that time where I start to make plans of family day trips and backyard barbecues, cool nights by the firepit making s’mores and spending time with friends and family we haven’t seen in months! I love the slower pace of summer, how magically we just tend to savor precious moments and how bedtimes and curfews get pushed back just a tad so we can spend a little extra time together.
Summer is wonderful!
For me, the change in season sparks creativity that has been lying dormant all Winter and Spring. Thoughts of rich comfort meals are replaced with bursting notions of perfectly grilled meats, crisp crunchy salads, fresh seafood, bright colorful arrays of fruits and vegetables and of course, the occasional trip the town ice cream shop!
A flawlessly grilled steak, wood-smoked fish, handmade burgers with all the topping or an All-American hot dog; they are all quintessential summer must-haves. These are surely a large part of what people look forward to when it comes to summer cookouts, I know I do. But these meals wouldn’t be half as delicious if it weren’t for their partners in crime…the super side dishes of summer! Whether you are a traditional corn on the cob or pasta salad lover or a more adventurous eater that likes a little kick and spiciness, I have a few great recipes that you can make and enjoy all season long!
Take your traditional corn on the cob, but instead of boiling it, slather it up with a little bit of herb-butter, wrap it in aluminum foil and grill it for about 10-12 minutes, rotating every few minutes. It is SO delicious!! To make the herb butter, just let a stick of butter come to room temperature. Add some chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or dill…(or both), one clove of grated garlic, about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Mash it all together into a delicious buttery paste and then with a pastry brush or small spatula slather the shucked corn and wrap each ear individually in a piece of foil. NOTE: if you are having a late night and need this done ahead. Leave the stick of butter out overnight and it will be ready for you to smash with all the herbaceous goodies in the morning! Wrap them and set them aside for later. Done!
What about coleslaw?! Are you more of a coleslaw side lover? Ditch the traditional bagged cabbage and try this awesome Broccoli and Kale Slaw! Not only is it delightfully different but it is chuck full of veggies and a hint of fruit! Its crunchy, light and a slightly sweet. It will have you (and your guests) coming back for seconds…I promise!
If you are more of a toppings person then you have to make a batch of Pickled Cucumber and Red Onions. It is the perfect crunchy sweet and slightly tart side! Top fish tacos, grilled chicken, barbecued shrimp, burgers, steak… you name it! I actually haven’t found a summer food that this doesn’t compliment. The pickling liquid is made with a combination of two vinegars instead of just one. The white wine vinegar gives it a punch while the cider vinegar adds some sweetness. While we are on the topic of toppings, did you ever try onion sauce on a hot dog, brat or even kielbasa? I know they sell jars of it in your local grocery store, but this Onion Sauce is tops! It’s got a kick from a dash (or two) of tabasco and a slightly sweet finish, compliments of a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg…oooh, I want a hot dog now just thinking about it!
If pasta salad is your go-to side try out this Greek Penne Pasta Salad! Its Mediterranean flavors of garlic, oregano and lemon really give this side dish a unique and delicious flavor. Mix in some chopped red bell pepper, red onion, cucumber, kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese and you have a hit at your next cookout. There is no mayo in this recipe which makes this a perfect picnic pasta salad or side at a barbecue where it might be sitting out for a few hours. If you are having a barbecue or going to one this pasta salad can be made up to 1 day ahead. Just store it in an airtight container. On the day of your cookout, put it in a nice large serving bowl, toss and serve. This taste equally delicious freshly made and warm, at room temperature or cold. Try it all three ways and see which is your favorite!
Last but certainly never least, where are all my spice lovers at?!?! Make a jar of this Sriracha Mayo and have it on hand to top, well pretty much anything you feel like adding a little kick too! I have a jar of this in my refrigerator at all times…even my daughter has gotten into it. She loves to put it on chicken or pork cutlets, oh yeah…and it is killer on fish tacos too!
Wherever your summer takes you, may you find yourself surrounded by good friends, great food, refreshing drinks, and lots of laughs! Enjoy the slower pace and savor each moment as it comes.
Cheers to Summer!