Memorial Day is here, marking the official start of grilling season. What goes great with veggie skewers, pollo in guajillo, burgers, carne asada, or your favorite plant-based hot dogs? Sides!
They can take many forms and incorporate all sorts of ingredients. Since Southern California’s spring and summer produce is abundant, we’re taking advantage of it with these Good Food recipes for pasta salads, potato salads, slaws, beans, and greens. Sidle up.
A wedge salad isn’t just for your grandpa’s favorite steakhouse. Andy Baraghani’s update on the classic still features cold, crisp lettuce but it’s cut into smaller pieces so the dressing, a garlicky tahini-based ranch, can penetrate the leafy layers.
Grilling guru and prolific culinary writer Steven Raichlen has written dozens of books including the best-selling “The Barbecue! Bible 10th Anniversary Edition” and “Planet Barbecue.” He shared his recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad back in 2008 and it remains a winner. It calls for anchovies, so if you want to make it vegetarian, just leave those out.
Want to bring a little midcentury style to your barbecue? Try this simple salad from New York’s famous theater district restaurant Sardi’s. Then, rewind to Season 2, Episode 5 of “Mad Men” and watch Don Draper order this dish. It works as well on a sunny summer afternoon as it does on a dimly lit date night.
Throw together your favorite greens and whatever vegetables you have in the fridge then toss with a liberal application of this salad dressing. Be sure to eat it with someone you love.
Potato and Pasta Salads
Officially named Conchiglie della Spiaggia, this room temperature pasta dish is as close to “pasta salad” as actual Italian cooking gets. The “sauce” is room temperature, the pasta is hot. These types of sauces that rely on raw tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil to form a sauce are infinitely variable. Do you like capers? Add them. Hate anchovies? Leave them out. Don’t have basil or parsley but have a green onion? Put it in. No tuna but you have tons of sardines you haven’t used yet or canned salmon? You get the picture.
Yes, you can skip the mayo that most potato salads rely on without skipping the flavor. Bryant Terry swears on it. His creation calls for roasted red potatoes and a pesto made of parsley and pine nuts.
Helene Henderson, the author of “The Swedish Table,” shared this recipe with us back in 2005. It calls for two pounds of baby potatoes in a variety of colors — Peruvian blue, Russian fingerling, Red Bliss — but you can use whatever appeals to you and is available. The green beans add crispness and the mint gives it zing.
If you’re not a fan of mayonnaise-based salads, this recipe is for you. Start with waxy potatoes, throw in some beans, add red pepper flakes for heat and capers for salt. Skip the optional anchovies to keep it vegan.
Former Superba chef James Trees, who counts himself a stalwart fan of cabbage, shared this recipe with us back in 2016. At Superba in Venice, chefs would dress shredded green cabbage with red wine vinaigrette and serve the slaw in a fried chicken sandwich. The slaw works just as well on its own.
Rusty Hamlin, executive chef for the Zac Brown Band and host of the pre-concert “Eat & Greet” dinner party as well as the Southern Ground Tailgate on 18 Wheels, had an unconventional career path. He’s famous for operating a 50-foot mobile kitchen and knows how to cook for loads of hungry pre-concert fans. This classic coleslaw is one of his many crowd-pleasers.
Veggie Side Dishes
“These might be the most delicious pickled tomatoes you will have ever tasted, it will be hard to wait the three days they need to sit before trying one,” Anna Voloshyna writes in “Budmo!: Recipes from a Ukrainian Kitchen,” about her mom’s spicy and sour tomatoes. Unlike traditional pickled tomatoes, which typically call for a vinegary pickling liquid, Voloshyna’s mother immerses her tomatoes in a thick, spicy sauce made from fresh herbs, jalapeños, oil and vinegar.
James Beard-winning chef, activist and author Bryant Terry has written four vegan cookbooks, most recently, “Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes” and “Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine.” The man knows vegetables. In this recipe, orange juice add tartness while raisins add sweetness to traditional collard greens.
Former Good Food Market Report correspondent Amelia Saltsman shares her tips for grilling vegetables. As the author of “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook,” Saltsman has experimented with grilling all of the local market veggies, from eggplant to a tangle of purslane (yes, you can grill purslane). Her recipe for grilled carrots is a standout.
Chef Charity Morgan, who helped her linebacker husband adopt a plant-based diet and has cooked 100% vegan meals for the Tennessee Titans, uses cauliflower instead of chicken in her wings. In her cookbook “Unbelievably Vegan: 100+ Life-Changing, Plant-Based Recipes: A Cookbook,” you’ll find loads of vegan recipes that’ll also make great barbecue sides.
Looking for a super-easy but unexpected option for a summer party? Try one of these. “Tartines aren’t exactly science,” Amelia Saltsman says. She shares three of her favorite summer tartine recipes, which involve topping toasted country bread with ingredients like smashed avocado, green tomatoes and nectarines. Rather than specific measurements, these recipes provide you with a general idea of how much produce you’ll need to yield four toasts. Scale up as desired.
Zeke’s Smokehouse in Montrose closed during the pandemic but we still have owner Leonard Schwartz’s baked beans recipe, which he shared with us back in 2003.
This is not your grandmother’s three-bean salad! Chef Chris Cosentino sees this recipe as a template that you can fashion with as many different types of beans as you like. “I think that the more colors and textures you have, the better. I especially like the crispness of the radish mixed with the creaminess of the cannellini beans,” he says.
Love white beans? Wondering what to do with them? A couple of onions, a can of tomatoes and a few spices will set you right.