There are many times when a side dish steals the show away from the main course. I do love just about anything barbecued, even vegetables, but a tasty or interesting side dish draws me in. Sometimes at home, I have featured a side dish as my main meal, especially a kale chopped salad mix that I add cubed chicken breast to. And I love pasta salads. You can make a meal out of one of those. We haven’t seen the end of our warm and hot weather, although we have had a sneak peek at some cooler temperatures. If you are planning some cookouts this fall, here are some salad side dishes you might want to try out.
Kale chopped salad
You can buy kale already chopped, but it is a bit harder to remove the ribs, piece by piece. The best type of kale for this is called lacinado and is not the curly kind.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
Salt, to taste
2 cups Brussels sprouts
4 cups fresh kale, ribs removed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped apple
2 tablespoons pine nuts
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter, or tahini
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. To make the dressing: In a small microwave-safe bowl, whisk together almond butter (or tahini,) balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil. Microwave for 15 to 20 seconds to help get almond butter smooth, if necessary. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat Add half the shallots then fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then repeat with remaining shallots. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
3. Trim ends off Brussels sprouts then remove outer leaves. Shave sprouts very thinly on a mandolin or slice very thinly with a knife, starting at the green end and stopping just before reaching the white, hard end. The thinner the better. Toss to separate shreds then remove any big pieces of tough white core.
4. Combine shaved sprouts in a large bowl with kale, almonds, Parmesan cheese, dried cranberries, apples, pine nuts, crumbled bacon and fried shallots then toss with the prepared dressing and serve. Makes 2 servings.
Peanut noodle salad
Can easily cut this recipe by half.
2 large cucumbers
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt (I leave this out, since the soy sauce is plenty salty)
1 package (16-oz.) soba noodles or angel hair pasta, cooked
8 ounces shredded fresh carrot
6 green onions, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1. Peel cucumbers; cut in half lengthwise, removing and discarding seeds. Cut cucumber halves into half-moon-shaped slices.
2. Whisk together soy sauce, coconut milk, vinegar, peanut butter, garlic, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and salt, if using, in a large bowl; add cucumber, pasta, carrot, and onions, tossing to coat. Cover and chill 8 hours, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Broccoli grape bow-tie salad
At first, I was a bit leery of this recipe because I wasn’t sure about grapes and broccoli together, but I tried it and liked it.
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 half a 16-oz. package bow-tie pasta (farfalle)
1 pound fresh broccoli crowns
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups firm, seedless red grapes, halved
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1. Preheat oven to 350. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, red onion, vinegar and salt; add broccoli, hot cooked and well-drained pasta, and grapes; stir to coat. Cover and chill 3 hours. Stir bacon and pecans into salad just before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Four bean salad
I usually like to have two cans of the green beans, rather than one. This salad is best if made one day ahead of when you plan to serve it.
1 can (16-oz.) cut green beans
1 can (16-oz.) cut wax beans
1 can (15-oz.) dark red kidney beans
1 can (16-oz.) garbanzo beans
1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Drain the cans of beans and empty the beans into a large bowl. Add the chopped bell pepper and red onion and mix well.
2. To make dressing: In a separate small bowl, add sugar, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and whisk until well blended. Pour mixture over beans and stir again gently to coat. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator. Stir beans a couple times during the day to make sure the mixture gets evenly exposed to the dressing. Store overnight in refrigerator.
3. When ready to serve, gently toss the salad once more. Makes 6 to 8 servings.