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The Cookstr 10: Ten End-of-Summer Side Dishes

August 31, 2010

If you’re like us, right now the main course of pretty much every meal is something grilled. Which means that you need side dishes, and sometimes, if you’re entertaining, lots of them. And if you’ve been invited to someone else’s house for a barbecue, you’re probably asking if you can bring something, and often that something ends up being a side dish.

Christopher Idone's Corn Souffle

The end of summer comes with many wonderful options for dishes to round out a meal, thanks to the plethora of produce filling the farmers’ markets and produce aisles of the supermarket…and maybe even your own garden. Side dishes are a snazzy way to showcase all of the veggies that are in full bloom at this time of year, and, in some creative cases, even the fruits.

These are the tip of the iceberg, but they are enough to make us wonder if we really need that main dish after all….

1. Deborah Szekely and Deborah Schneider’s Corn, Cilantro, and Arugula Salad with Yogurt Dressing. Peppery arugula is like a bantamweight boxer: physically light, but with a serious left hook. Paired up with fresh cilantro and dried cilantro seeds (called coriander), sweet corn, and a tangy, creamy dressing, this Mexican-influenced salad is far from the average pile of lettuce.

2. James Beard’s Alexandre Dumas Potato Salad. If you’ve got a pile of freshly harvested potatoes, sometimes you want to do as little to them as possible so you can simply appreciate the earthly essence of the tubers. This is an oldie but a goody: simply cooked potatoes that have soaked up a gentle wine-and-olive oil dressing.

3. Marcus Samuelsson’s Tomato Watermelon Salad with Almond Vinaigrette. Over the past several years, watermelons have been making their way into salads with abandon, often combined with a light and tangy cheese, such as the goat cheese used here. This version has all sorts of things going on: sliced almonds, harissa, jalapeño, herbs, capers, and tomatoes. It’s the kind of dish that’s just plain fun to eat.

4. Debbie Meyer-Gore’s Asian Broccoli Almond Slaw. We’ve got nothing against classic cabbage coleslaw, but we’re very intrigued by this creative take on the genre. Toasted almonds make it super crunchy, black beans provide protein and heft, raisins offer nice chew and sweetness, and finely chopped broccoli makes it beautiful and interesting (will you tell us if we have something in our teeth?).

5. Christopher Idone’s Corn Souffle. Ain’t nothing wrong with corn on the cob, but ain’t nothing quite like corn soufflé. (How often have you seen the words “ain’t” and “soufflé” used in the same sentence?) Sweet, fluffy, and undeniably classy, this is the kind of side that main courses are jealous of.

6. Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh’s Pearl Barley Tabbouleh. If your herb garden looks like it’s in need of a haircut, this is a great way to use up all of those trimmings. Hearty pearl barley takes the place of the more traditional bulgur wheat, soaking up the juices of the tomato and providing a canvas for the fresh rosemary, parsley, and basil to pop.

7. Rocco DiSpirito’s Tomato and Mozzarella Salad. As for that pile of funny looking heirloom tomatoes you hauled home from the farmers’ market–we’re talking about the ones with the crazy names (Hillbilly? Jubilee? Mortgage Lifter?)–this is the riposte. Nothing could be simpler and nothing could be more end-of-summer perfect.

8. Rick Rodgers’ Arugula, Prosciutto, and Cantaloupe Salad. The timeless antipasto combination of prosciutto and melon translates gorgeously into a salad, bolstered by heaps of sharp arugula to balance out the sweetness of the cantaloupe and the saltiness of the thinly sliced ham. Syrupy balsamic vinegar is the perfect anchor for the dressing.

9. Diane Rossen Worthington’s Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables. We’ve all eaten our share of lifeless pasta salads; limp, overdressed noodles coated with a lackluster dressing. What we all wished we were eating was this salad, filled with texture and color thanks to loads of scallions, zucchini, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and corn, bound together with a zippy dressing with copious amounts of herbs, garlic, and Parmesan.

10. Crescent Dragonwagon’s Fresh Corn Fritters. Another dreamy recipe to pull out when you’ve had your fill of corn on the cob. These would be amazing with any kind of grilled fish or simple chicken dish, and because they are so simply seasoned the corn flavor shines through uninterrupted, so they work as a side for meals with all kinds of ethnic flavors.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 27, 2015 5:05 pm

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