Meat may be the star attraction, but what barbecue is complete without complementary side dishes? They pair exceptionally well with grilled foods and sometimes they can even steal the show. Sides are also practical because it’s a way to be sure there’s something for everyone on your BBQ table.
Save yourself time in the kitchen by cooking as much as you can on the grill. Eggplant, portobello mushrooms, onions, zucchini, asparagus, sweet peppers and hot peppers all taste wonderful when grilled with just a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Invest in a grill pan and you’ll be able to grill green beans, carrots, button mushrooms, patty pan squash, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower florets for additional healthy veggie options. And don’t forget you can grill corn on the cob, either in the husks or wrapped in tin foil.
Need a potato fix, but don’t feel like spending the afternoon deep frying in the kitchen? Wrap a whole potato in tin foil and cook it in the hot coals or on the grill grates for a healthier and more satisfying potato dish.
Make individual foil packets to cook more delicate foods. Toss in lemon slices with the veggies and you’ll have an elegant, healthy side, without much clean up.
Salads top the list of popular barbecue sides. Most can be made in advance and many salads taste better after sitting overnight in the refrigerator. The exception is a mixed green salad – remember to wait until the last minute to add the dressing. Both can be made ahead and kept separate.
All the recipes on this post are not your traditional barbecue sides. They appeal to adults and kids alike, keep well as leftovers and most can easily withstand being left out in the sun for a while.
Celery, Apple and Fennel Slaw
Serve with grilled pork, fish or chicken.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced diagonally, plus 1/4 cup loosely packed celery leaves
- 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced crosswise, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
- 1 firm, crisp apple (such as Pink Lady, Gala, or Granny Smith), julienned
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.
Add celery, celery leaves, thinly sliced fennel, chopped fennel fronds and apple; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grilled Green Beans and Peaches
Mix 2 peaches (cut into 1/2-inch wedges) and 1 pound trimmed green beans with 2 tablespoons olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
On a preheated grill cook peaches and green beans in a skillet that can go on the grill or on heavy duty foil with a few holes poked in it, until beans are crisp-tender and peaches are lightly charred, 8–10 minutes. Place in a serving bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds and 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar.
Smashed Roasted Potatoes
- 2 pounds small Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350° F. Wrap each potato individually in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until tender, 45–60 minutes. Let cool slightly. (Can be prepared ahead up to this point.)
Unwrap potatoes and arrange on the same baking sheet. Set another rimmed baking sheet over potatoes, rimmed side up and press gently to smash potatoes without breaking them apart.
Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with half of the oil. Carefully turn potatoes to coat.
Preheat oven to 500°F. Roast potatoes for 15 minutes. Drizzle with remaining oil, turn to coat and continue roasting until crispy and golden brown, 25–30 minutes.
Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Salad
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
- 2 cucumbers, peeled in alternating strips and cut into chunks
- 1 Red or Vidalia onion, cut into chunks
- 10 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Gently combine all ingredients, except basil, in a bowl and let sit a for a few hours. Toss again. Add basil, toss and serve chilled or at room temperature.
Sweet Corn and Zucchini Saute
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 2 cups coarsely chopped zucchini
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup diced sweet onion, such as Vidalia
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Saute zucchini and onion in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Add garlic, corn kernels, chives and Italian seasoning; saute 5 minutes or until tender.
Chickpea and Walnut Salad
- 3 cups mixed baby greens
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 cup broccoli slaw mix
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette, homemade or store bought
Mix garbanzo beans, shredded carrot, broccoli slaw mix, chopped walnuts and dried cranberries with the vinaigrette. Place baby greens in the bottom of a serving bowl and place bean mixture on top. Shred Parmesan cheese over the salad.
- 5 Unthinkable Healthy BBQ Meals (familyfocusblog.com)
- Summer Bean Salads (jovinacooksitalian.com)