Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, which means embracing all aspects of the season ahead, including grilling and eating outdoors. A selection of healthy side dishes at the barbecue completes the spread. Whether you’re throwing a get together or you’re looking for a side to bring to a friend or family member’s parties, consider the following healthy side dish recipes.
Caprese skewers give you all of the fantastic flavors of a Caprese salad on cute little skewers. They come together in minutes and are easy to eat with your hands without making a big mess. The only prep Caprese skewers require is reducing balsamic vinegar to make a thick, sweet drizzle. While you’re preparing other barbecue eats, simmer one cup balsamic vinegar for about five minutes or until it thickens. Let it cool completely. Once you’ve assembled your skewers with mozzarella, basil, and cherry or grape tomatoes and arranged them on a serving platter, drizzle the sauce over the assembled skewers.
Rainbow vegetable kabobs
Rainbow vegetable kabobs are colorful and bursting with flavor. Chop your vegetables into roughly the same size pieces to ensure even cooking. Any seasonal vegetables work well for kabobs. Popular veggies include zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes. Chop your vegetables in advance to allow time for them to marinade. Kabob vegetables should marinate for a minimum of half an hour but can marinate overnight. A great basic marinade consists of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Include additional spices as you like, such as Italian or fajita seasoning.
Cowboy caviar is a cross between a chopped salad and a salsa, creating a versatile, flavorful dish that you can eat like a salad alongside grilled meat, on a bed of greens, or as a dip with tortilla chips. Cowboy caviar consists of black-eyed peas, black beans, sweet yellow corn, and diced Roma tomatoes, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and red onion. Many people also like to add avocado and cilantro or parsley. Once you’ve chopped and tossed the salad ingredients, add one-half cup olive oil, one-third cup sugar, one teaspoon chili powder, and one teaspoon salt. If you like a more savory and less sweet salad, reduce the amount of sugar.
Lighten up the sides table with a healthy, refreshing pasta salad. A Mediterranean pasta salad is chock full of veggies and has a classic summer taste perfect for a Memorial Day barbecue. Combine your favorite type of cold, cooked pasta with fresh sliced cucumbers, ripe cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and a generous handful of feta cheese. Then add a lemon-herb vinaigrette with one-quarter cup extra virgin olive oil, three tablespoons red wine vinegar, one tablespoon lemon juice, two teaspoons dried oregano, one teaspoon honey, and two small garlic cloves. Add crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.
A fruit salad can be as simple or complex as you like, depending on the fruits you’d prefer to use and the taste preferences of your guests. A honey lime dressing is light and coats the fruit beautifully. To make the dressing, whisk together one-quarter cup honey, the zest of two medium limes, and one tablespoon fresh lime juice. If you want to add a little kick to your fruit salad, feta is a popular option. Then finish the fruit salad with a touch of mint or basil.
These healthy side dish recipes can all be prepared ahead of time, freezing up more time for grilling and other party preparation tasks. Set aside a couple of hours for food prep in the morning or even make one or two side dishes the night before your gathering.