Last Minute Cookout Sides

grilled veggie platter with red pepper feta dip

With Father’s Day right around the corner you might want to add a couple more side dishes to your menu if you’ll be having a cookout. Here’s a few inexpensive and simple to make ideas that are always a hit and look quite impressive.

grilled veggies

Nothing is more inviting than a big platter of grilled vegetables, it’s colorful, healthy and there’s something for everyone and they go with everything! I toss or brush my veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper then stick them on the grill, this all can be done the day before.

After they cool down I like to store my veggies in a large container in layers between sheets of foil, just get them to room temperature before serving.

roasted red pepper and feta dip

I like to serve them with a dip of some sort, one of my favorites is this Feta and Red Pepper Dip. It’s adapted from an old Cooks Illustrated recipe. So simple to make, everything goes into a food processor, the flavors are fantastic and go wonderful with the grilled veggies. (recipe below)

grilled veggies with red pepper feta dip

I grilled up some asparagus, broccolini, red pepper, cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and slices of red potatoes.

grilled veggies with red pepper feta diproasted garlic tomatoes

Another popular side are these Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Whole Garlic Cloves. 

I like using the plum tomatoes because you only need a couple on your plate, and they too go with everything. The thing that takes them over the top is the addition of whole roasted garlic cloves, they’re soft, sweet and when mingled with the oil and tomato juice, my oh my!

I roast the peeled garlic cloves ahead of time in a foil packet, just drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and some herbs if you like. Fold up the packet, roast at 375 for around 45 minutes or until soft.

For the tomatoes, use 6 or 7 plums, cut in half lengthwise and placed in a shallow baking dish with 1/2 cup of olive oil, fresh thyme, rosemary, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Distribute the pre-roasted garlic all around and roast at 400 degrees until tomatoes start to burst and the juices begin to mingle with the oil. You could then finish it off by placing the pan under the broiler for a few seconds for a deeper color, but don’t walk away, keep watching. Garnish with fresh snipped basil.

 

grilled potato and asparagus napoleon

Here’s an oldie but goodie in my archives. Grilled Potato and Asparagus Napoleon, it’s layered with tangy goat cheese and grilled red pepper and garnished with balsamic glaze and olives, so easy to make and it tastes out of this world good!

grilled veggie salad

And last but not least, cut up those grilled veggies and toss them into a nice big Grilled Vegetable Salad,  you can’t go wrong with that!

Happy Grilling

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Last Minute Cookout Sides
 
Feta and Red pepper Dip. Use this dip to enhance grilled veggies of all kind! Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated.
Author:
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. Feta cheese
  • 1 6 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
Instructions
  1. Blend everything into a food processor until mostly smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl, drizzle with oilve oil and garnish with basil.

 

 

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Spaghetti Squash “Cacio e Pepe” with Asparagus Ribbons

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

This recipe is a little twist on the classic Roman dish, “Cacio e Pepe”, which in Italian means, cheese and pepper. It’s traditionally made with three main ingredients, pasta, Pecorino Romano and crushed black pepper, there’s a little debate on using butter or olive oil, I use a combination, and never are there any added vegetables to the dish.

It’s simple and easy and most definitely comfort food at it’s finest!

cacio e peppe with spaghetti squash and asparagus

Like I said this is a twist on the classic, so in my version I decided to replace the pasta with wonderful spaghetti squash and for color and added depth of flavor I tossed in slightly cooked and wilted asparagus ribbons.

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

The same bold and creamy flavor of the Pecorino Romano comes out and balances the spiciness of the coarsely crushed fresh peppercorns just like in the traditional version.

I repeat, crushed fresh peppercorns!

Please don’t use that stuff that’s been sitting on a shelf for ages and looks consistently the same when you sprinkle it on, it will ruin the dish.

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

The asparagus is simply shaved with a vegetable peeler and then slightly wilted in a saute pan then scattered about all over the top.

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

Remember, the cheese and pepper are the key ingredients in this recipe, so don’t be shy!

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

I promise you won’t even miss the pasta!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Spaghetti Squash "Cacio e Pepe" with Asparagus Ribbons
 
A twist on the classic Cacio e Pepe replacing the pasta for spaghetti squash and adding some asparagus ribbons.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 medium to large spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb asparagus, on the thicker size, not thin,shaved with a vegetable peeler into ribbons
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra drizzle for sauteing asparagus
  • ¾ cup of coarsely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup of finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Coarsely crushed fresh peppercorns, to taste. Don't be shy!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375, line baking sheet with parchment, cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Drizzle inside of each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on parchment and cook until a knife goes through easily, be careful not to overcook.
  3. Let squash cool completely then shred with a fork to get long strands.
  4. Place squash strands on a paper towel to get the dampness out for a few minutes.
  5. Drizzle a saute pan with olive oil and place asparagus ribbons in tossing them until wilted and bright green. Remove so they can stop cooking.
  6. In the same saute pan add the 2 tablespoons of butter and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, toss in the spaghetti squash strands and the ¾ cup of coarsely grated Pecorino, tossing gently until heated through and cheese starts to melt, also add in some cracked pepper while tossing. If it seems to thick add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin it out.
  7. Place on a platter, arrange asparagus ribbons all around and add the finely grated pecorino all over and more pepper.
  8. Finish off with a quick drizzle of olive oil.

 

 

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Summer Chopped Veggie Salad

chopped veggie salad

Chopped salads are nothing knew, in fact if you did a search on the Internet you would see thousands of different variations. Crisp, colorful veggies tossed into a light vinaigrette, it just screams healthy and fresh!

chopped veggie salad ingredients

The vegetables you choose are up to you, in the past I’ve added things like peas, asparagus, carrots, radishes, raw zucchini, yellow squash and even jalapeno , I’ve added cheese, different herbs, but mostly I like to keep it pretty simple and above all colorful!

This time I added green and yellow wax beans, something I saw Martha do on one of her shows, it’s a great addition for the color and texture it gives, and I always use planks of fresh corn for the taste and visual.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the quickest salad to make, you have to do some chopping, after all it is a chopped salad, but I find it therapeutic. Play some music, watch a TV show or just drift into your own thoughts, it will go by fast. You can chop all your veggies the day before then mix everything together the day of.

 

chopped veggie salad ingredients

This salad couldn’t be more perfect as a side to all your summertime cookouts or just make it and eat it for lunch for a few days plus there’s no mayo required, so that’s a good thing with the summer heat.

chopped veggie salad

Chop and then dress adding more or less, it’s up to you, be creative!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Summer Chopped Veggie Salad
 
A fresh summertime salad, all flavors condensed into one bite. No mayo required.
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ pound of green beans cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • ½ pound of yellow wax beans cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • ½ can of garbanzo bean, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 4 or 5 tomatoes, seeded and diced into ¼ inch pieces
  • a handful each of fresh basil and fresh parsley, chopped
  • FOR VINAIGRETTE YOU WILL NEED:
  • olive oil
  • white balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • ½ minced garlic
  • dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. You need to blanch the beans for 2 minutes in boiling water, remove with slotted spoon and then place into an ice bath, then drain well, even wiping them down with paper towel until moisture is removed.
  2. Place corn in boiling water after beans for 5 minutes and also place into ice bath to cool down, when cool, cut corn into planks.
  3. Place everything into a large bowl, veggies, beans, herbs and toss to mix.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together, 2 ounces of olive oil, 2 ounces of vinegar, a dollop of dijon mustard, ½ minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. This is just a general guideline, you can add more or less as needed to taste.
  6. Pour vinaigrette all over and toss!

 

 

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