Tuesday, May 24

Side Dishes for a Healthy Memorial Day

Break out the grills people. It’s time to kickoff the summer season with a backyard BBQ.

I love the idea of a BBQ, but honestly, I’m almost always disappointed with the meal. My problem is that I don’t really like burgers, grilled chicken or hot dogs. They’re fine, but for me, not that appetizing. This is odd, I know. For most people the meat is the star of the show. But not for me. I like the side dishes.

Unfortunately, the accompaniments of any backyard BBQ are mayo-based potato salad, chips and salsa, and a veggie tray from Costco. Ugh!

It doesn’t have to be like this. The sides can be just as appealing as the grilled meat.

Here are three recipes for delicious and healthy side dishes to liven up your Memorial Day BBQ.

No-mayo Potato Salad

“What?” You’re saying. “No mayonnaise in a potato salad? Why that’s just not done.”

Trust me. This is fabulous. And since it’s oil and vinegar based you cut loads of fat calories out of it and you don’t have to worry about refrigerating it—a real plus for a backyard BBQ.

6 large potatoes, peeled, cut into one-inch cubes
3 c. chicken stock
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 TBLS scallions, finely chopped
3 tsp mustard seeds
6 TBLS olive oil
4 TBLS cider vinegar
3 TBLS fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 tsp salt
3 tsp freshly ground pepper

·      Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
·      While you’re waiting for the water to boil, heat the chicken stock in a microwave or on the stove.
·      Add the potatoes and boil until just cooked (about ten minutes). You want them firm, not mushy.
·      Pour the potatoes into a colander and drain off all the water.
·      Transfer the potatoes to a large ceramic or glass bowl and pour the hot chicken stock over them.
·      Toss gently and let stand about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes absorb most of the stock and are cool.
·      Pour off any excess stock.
·      Gently mix in the remaining ingredients.
·      Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Note: This can get a bit salty since the chicken stock has a lot of salt in it too. Before adding the 3 tsps of salt at the end, taste the salad and see if you want any more. You can always add, but you can’t take it away!

Grilled Corn and Sweet Onion Salad (from Boy Meets Grill by Bobby Flay)

This is a nice, light, fresh tasting salad. I made it for a dinner party a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I hope you like it too.

6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing the corn
2 TBLS aged sherry vinegar (Note: I couldn’t find this so I substituted white wine vinegar)
1 ½ tsps Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 ripe plum tomatoes, finely chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 TBLS chives, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

·      Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium.
·      In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn 5 minutes until barely tender.
·      Brush the cooked corn with olive oil and grill until slightly charred on all sides, about 2 minutes.
·      Remove from the grill and with a sharp knife stand each ear on a cutting surface and scrape downward to remove the kernels.
·      In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic and slowly whisk in the ¼ cup of olive oil until emulsified.
·      Add the corn kernels, bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, jalapeno and chives, and toss to coat with the dressing.
·      Season with salt and pepper.

Note: The raw red pepper was nice, but next time I think I’m going to try it with roasted red peppers.

Best Veggie Dip Ever

Tired of ranch dressing with your veggies? Here’s an old southern recipe that’s fabulous. It’s mayonnaise based, so not the healthiest of dips, but if you use light mayo and fat-free sour cream you can cut some calories.

2 c. light mayo (I like Hellmann’s Light)
½ c. fat-free sour cream
¼ tsp turmeric
1 TBLS curry
½ tsp garlic powder
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt

·     Mix all ingredients together.
·     Make several hours ahead of time and serve with your favorite raw vegetables.
·     For a twist on the standard veggie tray add blanched asparagus. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus stalks. Toss the asparagus into the boiling water. Boil for only a couple of minutes (2-3) until it turns bright green. Pour into a colander and drain off all the hot water. Then toss the hot asparagus immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further. You want them firm, not mushy. After they’re cool, store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve your veggie tray.

 Happy Memorial Day everyone. Have a wonderful weekend!!

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