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By experimenting with new ingredients, you can create cookout side dishes that blow baked beans right off the table.
SAM OWENS | The Roanoke Times
Serve something new and unusual like Three-Bean Salad with Jalapeno-Cilantro Vinaigrette at a cookout this summer.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
At a big summer cookout, when the table is laden with side dishes, my eyes tend to pass right over the pasta and potato salads.
I have nothing against a good macaroni salad or someone’s family potato salad recipe, but my stomach can only stretch so much. I’d rather fill that valuable real estate with something new and unusual.
Besides, while down-home family standards have their place at every cookout, America’s interest in gastronomy has opened doors that some of our grandmothers would have slammed shut before opening that box of elbow noodles. Experimenting with ingredients such as edamame, goat cheese, quinoa and pine nuts is fun, not to mention delicious.
As I set out to find recipes for sides that would blow the baked beans right off the table, I was also on the lookout for dishes that would be best — well, served cold. Unless it’s truly worth it (read: macaroni and cheese), it’s so much easier if one doesn’t have to worry about heating up the kitchen, transporting a hot dish and keeping it warm at the party.
A few basic tips I followed as I curated this recipe collection:
It’s nice to pull a switcheroo sometimes. Instead of macaroni salad, create a concoction with unusual pasta shapes, eye-opening ingredients and atypical spices. Swap the potatoes in the potato salad for cooked cauliflower to lower carb counts. Add minced, pickled hot peppers to deviled egg filling.
Use the grill. Fire it up earlier in the day to grill vegetables or fruit that can then be cooled to room temperature and folded into dishes. The grill marks add to the aesthetics of the dish, the char adds flavor, and cooking outside keeps your kitchen cool.
Chop it up. Tossed salads are great, but trying to cut up large pieces of lettuce and other vegetables with plastic utensils on a paper plate? Not so great. Chopped salads are just what they sound like — medleys of ingredients chopped into bite-size pieces. Don’t be afraid to dice and shred.
Try a new ingredient. Never dealt with edamame, Japanese eggplant, green papayas, jicama or some other less-than-ordinary food? Don’t be afraid to use the cookout guests as guinea pigs. At the very worst, they won’t like it and you can pretend someone else brought that weird salad in the blue bowl.
On the blog:
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