Speedy summer side dishes

Corn salsa. Kim Harris photo
Corn salsa. Kim Harris photo

Around my house it never fails. We are relaxing with a cup of coffee on our pool deck and my brother-in-law calls to catch up with us. At the end of the conversation, my husband invites him up for a barbecue, something I am never prepared for. I rush to the freezer and pull out some chicken, chops or steaks for the main course, but what will I serve on the side?

This problem used to send me rushing to the store looking for something in a box that I can whip up quickly and still have a satisfying meal that is delicious for adults, but that also appeals to my niece and nephew, both under the age of 10.

With these quick and easy recipes, scrambling for side dishes has become a thing of the past and best of all, I usually have all the ingredients on hand, giving me an easy solution for a common problem.

Here are three of my favorite go-to side dishes for those last-minute get-togethers.

Fresh vegetable and pasta salads are a great compliment to any meal. Kim Harris photo
Fresh vegetable and pasta salads are a great compliment to any meal. Kim Harris photo

Corn Salsa

I found this recipe by hvoeltner online at www.allrecipes.com and it quickly became a family favorite! My favorite part of this recipe is the ease in putting it together. It takes about five minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) can yellow corn, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white corn, drained
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 bunch finely chopped cilantro
  • 5 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste

Directions

Stir the yellow and white corn, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion, red onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a large bowl. Gently mix in the lime juice and avocado. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with tortilla chips or as a side dish.

Classic macaroni salad. Kim Harris photo
Classic macaroni salad. Kim Harris photo

Classic macaroni salad

This is one of those side dishes that was served at every family together I went to as a kid. It’s an old standby that is not only easy to make, but also a favorite at all kinds of functions. Best of all it takes less than 30 minutes to make if you put together the dressing and chop the vegetables while waiting for the water to boil.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimento peppers (optional)

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.

In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, pimentos and macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.

Cucumber, onion and tomato salad. Kim Harris photo
Cucumber, onion and tomato salad. Kim Harris photo

Cucumber, onion and tomato salad

This recipe is one that I got from a friend of mine while living on the southeast coast of Georgia. Using tomatoes and cucumbers right from the garden and Tony Chachere’s to give it a kick, makes this fresh summer recipe appealing on a hot summer day. Prep time is 15 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, sliced and separated into rings

Directions

Whisk water, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl until smooth; add cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion and stir to coat.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 2 hours.

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