Vegetable Side Dishes for Your Memorial Day BBQ

My colleagues and I will be firing up our grills next Monday for Memorial Day. I’m thinking burgers. No doubt, many of you already know what you’ll serve as a main course – burgers, brats, hot dogs, chicken, veggies. I find it’s the side dishes that take more thought because the options are limitless. Here are some of the ones I’m mulling from our recipe collection – and they might give you culinary inspiration, too.

Photo courtesy of Viviane Baquet Farre

Cumin-Crusted Oven Fries

These spuds, in the photo, take the concept of French fries to a new level – without the deep-frying. “Bake oven fries with cumin seeds and these spuds are not just good, they’re sublime,” Vivane Bauquet Farre, the creative force behind the food e-magazine foodandstyle.com, says of the recipe she created. “The cumin seeds, while roasting along with the potatoes, acquire a deep flavor and add a bit of crunch to each slice – making them addictive and dreamy!” (Click here to see the recipe.)

Corn with Sugar Snap Peas and Mint

This dish comes together quickly and is attractive. Plus, it’s flexible. You can add cherry tomatoes – or experiment with different veggies, herbs and spices. “I sometimes use basil in place of the mint — and diced zucchini, fresh from the garden, in place of the sugar snaps,” says cookbook author Marie Simmons, who created the dish. “Although the combination of corn and curry is not typical, sometimes I add a sprinkling of Madras curry powder along with a bit of grated ginger and garlic.” (Click here to see the recipe.)

Grilled Ratatouille

This classic veggie stew from France’s Provence is “recast for the grill” in Andrew Schloss and David Joachim’s book Mastering The Grill (Chronicle Books, 2007). “Moving everything over a flame causes each vegetable to retain more of its distinctive flavor and texture and transforms the finished dish into a mountainous grilled salad, glistening with olive oil and radiating the aroma of fresh basil.” (Click here to see the recipe.)

Honey-Citrus Marinated Asparagus

Asparagus is a favorite spring vegetable for many people. (It is among our Facebook fans, who voted it as their top pick in an informal survey.) In this dish, cooked asparagus are marinated for several hours in a combination of orange juice and zest, champagne vinegar, honey and extra virgin olive oil – along with orange segments and red onion. The marinade then serves as a dressing when the asparagus are served. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Roasted Shallot-Sherry Vinaigrette for Steamed Green Beans

Vinaigrettes are incredibly versatile. They can be used on salad, as a marinade for chicken, and as a topping for fish and vegetables. The possibilities are endless. This vinaigrette, roasted shallots add a touch of sweetness and some smoky notes. It’s good on steamed veggies like green beans. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Shredded Summer Squash Salad

We know it’s not quite summer. But summer squash is plentiful at the grocery. Here, the squash is shredded and topped with a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. You can serve it atop butter or leaf lettuce – or on its own. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Arugula Salad with Watermelon and Feta

Watermelon is showing up at the grocery. And this salad gives the watermelon a savory riff. It’s dressed with a vinegar syrup. “The balsamic-honey reduction adds acidity, fresh arugula brings a bit of savory spice, and some salty and rich feta cheese ties it all together,” writes Chicago chef Stephanie Izard in her book Girl in the Kitchen (Chronicle Books, 2011), where the recipe appears. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Bon appétit,

California Olive Ranch Master Miller Bob Singletary