If you’re like me, summers are filled with barbecues, fish fries, and cookouts. I was taught at a young age that you absolutely do not show up to one of these get togethers empty handed. Sure, you could just bring a plain bag of potato chips and some store-bought French onion dip, but where’s the fun in that? I have three fabulous side dishes that will not only satisfy your tastebuds, but are super simple and inexpensive to make as well!
I try to focus on ingredients that can be found at my local farmer’s market for my go-to sides. The fresher the produce, the better the dish! Nothing beats that “farm to table” taste.
Grilled Watermelon Salad
1 seedless watermelon (cut into 1-inch-thick triangular slices)
8 oz crumbled feta cheese
4 fresh bay leaves (sliced thinly)
½ lime (juice)
½ cup balsamic vinaigrette
extra virgin olive oil spray
salt to taste
Preheat grill to medium high heat (450 degrees).
Spray each watermelon slice side with extra virgin olive oil.
Grill 2 minutes per side and set the watermelon aside to cool.
Once watermelon has cooled, cut into ½ inch cubes.
In a large bowl, add your cubed watermelon and the remaining ingredients.
Cover your watermelon salad and chill for at least an hour. Serve.
Fried Green Tomatoes
3 green tomatoes (sliced ½ inches)
1 cup fine white cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour (sifted)
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs beaten
¼ tablespoon cayenne (halved for the 2 dry bowls)
3 tablespoons garlic powder (1 tablespoon per bowl)
Salt & pepper
¾ tablespoon onion powder (¼ tablespoon per bowl)
¼ cup of your favorite hot sauce
vegetable or canola oil for frying
In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and add the sliced tomatoes.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, add flour and dry seasonings. Blend well and set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, add cornmeal and dry seasonings. Blend well and set aside.
Add oil to your iron skillet and set temperature to medium high heat.
Remove tomato slices from your wash and set the bowl of wash aside. Pat the tomatoes dry with a paper towel.
In the wash bowl, add your eggs and beat well.
Separately, lightly coat the sliced green tomatoes in the flour, making sure to delicately shake off any excess flour.
Then dip the slices in the egg wash allowing the excess wash to drip off.
Lastly, lightly coat the slice with your cornmeal, making sure to delicately shake off any excess flour.
Cook the slices in a single layer in the grease for around 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot.
Tip: Spicy ranch aioli is amazing with fried green tomatoes and it’s super easy to make. Mix 1 Ranch Packet, ½ teaspoon of dried dill, ½ teaspoon of dried parsley, 3 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, 1 cup of mayonnaise, and 1 cup of buttermilk.
Grilled Corn Ribs
6 fresh corn cobs
½ cup butter melted
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 teaspoons minced garlic (or as much as your heart desires)
2 teaspoons paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the corn in cold water for 15 minutes.
Preheat your grill 400 degrees.
Cut the corn cobs into 4 piece – the long way – to form ribs, then cut in half to make 48 riblets.
Brush the riblets with extra virgin olive oil.
Grill your riblets for 2-4 minutes per side. Just to get a nice char without overcooking them.
In a bowl, add butter, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
Toss Corn in the butter mixture making sure to coat the corn completely. When plating, top with fresh minced parsley.
Tip: For a little more finesse, add a little mayo, queso fresco, and lime juice to your corn – a slight take on Mexican street corn and well worth it!
Chelsea Gieselmann is a mom, photographer, columnist, food blogger, and home-cook. Cooking has been a passion of hers since she was old enough to cut out biscuits with the mouth of a mason jar. Her great-grandmother taught her the basics and she is ever so grateful to have been able to learn from her. Since then, she has honed in her craft a great deal and continues to.