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10 Favorite Cookout Side Dishes

You can do better than a bag of potato chips this summer. We’ve got fresh, seasonal salads; quick pickles; pasta dishes and the best dips. Here are 10 summertime sides ready for your picnic table or patio.

1. Fresh Tomato, Cucumber & Feta Salad

A quick take on the classic Greek salad, this version highlights delicious summer produce, including sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and colorful bell peppers. The dressing, a simple combination of Italian seasoning, vinegar, and good olive oil, is is great for dipping pieces of bread.

Fresh Tomato, Cucumber & Feta Salad

2. Cool Veggie Pizza

The best part about this fun side dish? You can customize it to whatever toppings your family likes best. Start with quick store-bought crescent dough rolled into a circle. Cook it on a pizza stone to ensure crispness. Then top it with dill-spiked cream cheese and mayonnaise and whatever summer veggies you want: chopped cucumbers, bell peppers, yellow squash, broccoli. Choices abound.

Cool Veggie Pizza

3. Southwestern Salad

Bring what everyone loves about tacos to an easy-to-transport salad. The grilled chicken and black beans make it hearty enough to be a meal or a zesty summer side salad. Serve it at a cookout it in an insulated bowl, so the lettuce and veggies stay crisp and chilled outside from the time the party starts until the table is cleared and the burgers and sides are replaced with marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.

Southwestern Salad

4. Korean Potato Salad

While potato salad might seem like a distinctly American dish, it’s commonly eaten as a side dish in Korean cuisine, possibly introduced by American soldiers during the Korean War.  Spiralized red potatoes meet a rice-wine vinegar and mayonnaise dressing for an unusual take on the potato salad we know in Canada. This version gets extra flavor from honey, chopped green onion, and spiralized seedless cucumbers scattered over the top.

Korean Potato Salad

5. Quick Pickled Radishes

An excellent side dish when it’s paired with heavier grilled meats, like short ribs or barbecue, quick pickled vegetables bring a bright, light flavor to the table. Here, a brine of vinegar, water, sugar and salt is microwaved, then poured over a bowl of sliced daikon radishes and placed in the fridge to chill. The simple recipe can be used with lots of veggies, including turnips.

6. Greek Cucumber Noodle Salad

Update a traditional Greek salad by turning the refreshing cucumbers into noodles. Strain the cucumbers (a salad spinner works great) so the dressing doesn’t get watered down. Combine the noodles with onion, tomato, artichoke, feta, and a light vinaigrette before serving in an insulated bowl that will keep the salad cool on warm summer days.

Greek Cucumber Noodle Salad

7. Creamy Avocado Pesto Primavera

Put your herb garden to good use with this dish, which combines a classic basil pesto with creamy avocado. Combine the pesto with spiralized carrot, squash and zucchini noodles, and add summer’s favorite tomatoes and crisp-tender broccoli. Add chicken to make turn this side dish into a main course meal. Then, freeze the leftover pesto to use in future meals.

Creamy Avocado Pesto Primavera

8. Mexican Street Corn Dip

Elote, a popular Mexican street food that consists of a fresh ear of corn coated in cheese and delicious spices, has been turned into a dip that’s the perfect summer side dish. Grill the corn, fresh jalapeno, and onion for maximum flavor, then chop and combine with the rest of the ingredients and warm for a creamy, spicy, satisfying side.

Mexican Street Corn Dip

9. Fresh Tomato Salsa

A bright salsa made with ingredients straight from the garden is perfect with chips, yes, but it’s also great on grilled chicken or fish. Combine tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and seasoning, then chop roughly together until it’s at your desired chunkiness.

10. Raspberry Tequila Sangria

Does sangria count as a side dish? We think so! This adults-only beverage is made for hot summer evenings on the porch. Combine raspberries, tequila, triple sec, and sparkling wine for this refreshing sipper; the recipe starts with a warm sugar syrup, so be sure to leave time for chilling in a pitcher.

Raspberry Tequila Sangria

This post has been updated since its original publication in April, 2016.

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