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Side Dish Ideas For Summertime Cookouts

caprese and avocado


caprese and avocado

Every cookout needs a fabulous spread of side dishes to go with it, it’s not just about the main course.  Here are a few of my favorite go-to sides.

For the most part, I’ll just briefly explain how I put them together, you don’t need an exact recipe it’s all about tossing the components together using as much as you want of each, and hopefully the photos will give you a good visual to make it your own.

You can’t go wrong with a caprese salad which I’m sure many of you have made, I layered the tomato and mozzarella on top of a bed of arugula, added some chopped avocado around the center then drizzled it all with olive oil, balsamic glaze and plenty of chopped basil.

tomato cucumber and mozzarella balls

This is another version of a caprese salad using sliced colorful cherry tomatoes and small bocconcini balls, chopped cucumber, plenty of basil and a generous amount of olive oil with salt and pepper to taste.

italian pasta salad

A pasta salad is always welcome at a cookout and because it doesn’t have a mayonnaise base it’s safe to keep out for a while.

I also like changing up different pasta shapes, so feel free to use your favorite, just cook it ahead of time.

pasta salad ingredients

My pasta salads consist of chopped cucumbers, red onion, some type of colored peppers, sliced cherry tomatoes, olives and  arugula.

Sometimes I add chopped Genoa salami and sometimes not. I also like to add a sharp cheese like provolone, fontinella or asiago which I cube up.

Toss everything together with your pre-cooked pasta and use a homemade Italian dressing to bring it all together.

I like to whisk together 3 parts olive oil to 1 part white balsamic vinegar add in some granulated garlic, a splash of lemon, oregano, salt and pepper. If you want to thicken it a bit add a dollop of Dijon.

pasta salad

Same pasta salad as above with the dressing and all, minus the salami which I replaced with fresh corn kernels.

fish salad

If you like doing seafood on the grill this is a nice salad to put together. Here I used pre-cooked octopus that I cut up along with calamari and shrimp, everything was tossed in olive oil, lemon rind, oregano, salt and pepper beforehand, I would also add chopped parsley, which I didn’t have that day. Stick it on a grill pan and grill altogether.

Layer the seafood on a platter with an arugula base, some tomato wedges, kalamata olives and oregano with a fresh lemon and olive oil dressing.

 

italian potato salad

Here’s a potato salad minus the mayo that can be prepped ahead of time, cut the potatoes in half and roast them til golden and blanch up your green beans.

Then toss them all together with red onion, fresh parsley, oregano, slices of those tiny colored peppers, a sprinkling of grated pecorino with a dressing of fresh lemon and olive oil.

italian romaine salad

A tossed Italian salad with romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, radishes, olives, red onion, cucumber, provolone cheese and pepperoncini tossed together with an Italian vinaigrette of your choice, always a great side.

grilled artichokes

We’re big on artichokes in my family and grilled artichokes are a delicious side and labor of love,  here’s the link.

grilled vegetables

Any combination of grilled veggies is always a welcome so colorful healthy and delicious!

Cantaloupe

Adding some fruit into the mix with balls of cantaloupe and bocconcini drizzled with a light touch of olive oil whisked with a little fresh orange juice.

Watermelon and feta

Wedges of watermelon with feta, blueberries and pistachios drizzled with a balsamic glaze is always fun, and who doesn’t like watermelon.

grape salad

And last but not least the famous grape salad that was all the rage a couple of years ago. A combination of green and red grapes tossed into a creamy mix of half softened cream cheese and half sour cream but I like to lighten mine up a bit with some Greek yogurt.

Sprinkle the top with some brown sugar and walnuts or pecans, always a hit at a party

Just like Thanksgiving the sides are where it’s at, enjoy!

 

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