Summer Sides

June 18, 2017

When a new season gears up, I am always looking for fresh food ideas. Some dishes are classics, for sure, but I also feel like I want a new round of flavors, new tastes that spark my memories and imagination.

I have been on the hunt for new sides to bring to all those pool parties, picnics and bbq’s that make getting together in the summer so easy. I think I found some new favorites. I am giving them a little roll call here in this post, and I hope you find some great ideas for your next get together. But before we get into the new kids, I just have to mention the one salad that we keep bringing back every year, in case you don’t know about it.

Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad (find the printer version here at Bon Appetite):

I have never brought this anywhere and not had someone ask me for the recipe. And plenty of friends have told me this is now their go-to salad in the summer (or fall. or winter.). I think it is just the perfect balance to fatty, juicy grilled meats. This salad’s dressing has the combo of garlic, lemon, dijon, and the pecorino has the saltiness to make your taste buds wake up and take notice. And the vitality of all that Kale and Brussel Sprout goodness makes you feel great the next day.

Ok, on for the new ideas…

Lemon Balsalmic Pasta Salad  – This one looks like such and easy pasta salad with new flavors. Plus I love pasta salad leftovers the day after a party, and often add a little scoop to my veggies salads at lunch all week. Can’t wait to try this one.

Tomato and Red Onion Salad:  This one almost doesn’t need a recipe but it is such a great dish on any buffet table. Julia Child has a version of this but adds avocados and it is amazing, so feel free to slice up one and add it to this recipe, with perhaps more seasoning.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad:  I always think of Caprese salad as an easy go to summer side but after seeing this one looks like I need to try it.

Speaking of Caprese, I so loved the idea of this Plum Caprese salad that uses light plums and cucumbers – sounds so refreshing.

Grilled Caprese Naan Pizza – And I can’t stop thinking about this new twist to one of my favorites, Naan Bread Pizza, from one of my favorite food bloggers, Courtney from A Life in Scratch. I saw her make these on Instastories and have been dreaming about them ever since (she also put caprese on top of garlic bread and that might end up being one of my favorite summer meals). Here site is full of summer ideas so poke around there.

I can’t get enough of simple cucumber salads, and this Thai flavored Cucumber Salad looks light, refreshing and so tasty.

Pickled Onions – I am on a big kick of keeping a jar of pickled onions in my fridge after I had a salad that used them at a restaurant and the cravings began. It couldn’t be easier to put together these ingredients, and if you want to add cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower, or carrots, who am I to stop you? But just these simple onions dress up salads, burger bars, tacos, anything your summer throws at you.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter:  This is definitely happening at our next bbq.

Bacon and Avocado Macaroni Salad:  I made this for a pool party and I loved it! My pregnancy cravings of bacon and avocado and pasta were met here and the lemony dressing has a great tang. You’ll notice I added peas to this recipe because I was just feeling it. I also left out the thyme because I was still a little averse to herbs. It was still delicious and I think made it more kid-friendly.



  • 12 ounces elbows pasta
  • 5 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 cup thawed green peas
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, for garnish (optional)


  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  1. To make the dressing, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and thyme in the bowl of a food processor; season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. In a large bowl, combine pasta, bacon, avocado, lemon-thyme dressing, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with thyme.

Adapted from

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