Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to summer festivities. Side dishes can often take a backseat in the excitement to fire up the grill for some Sweet & Savory Chicken, Steak & Vegetable Kebabs or a satisfying piece of Grilled Salmon with Tomatoes. Not this season, though.
Whether you’re hosting a backyard BBQ or bringing a dish to share at a potluck picnic, here are nine healthy, flavorful sides that will stand up next to the most artfully charred platters of meat and seafood.
Whole wheat pasta, crunchy cucumbers, and tomatoes are tossed in a tangy red wine vinegar dressing in this Mediterranean classic picnic salad. Make sure to choose a pasta shape with nooks and crannies to absorb all the flavors of the dressing and mix-ins.
This vegan salad makes the case that corn doesn’t always have to be cooked. Fresh-cut corn kernels, arugula, and cherry tomatoes create a colorful, summer-in-a-bowl side that pairs with everything from Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Pesto to a coffee-rubbed Cowboy Flank Steak.
Where would a BBQ be without a creamy mac & cheese casserole? The addition of sweet potatoes and peas in this version gives it a nutritional boost, and the crunchy whole-wheat breadcrumb topping will keep guests coming back for seconds.
The heartier veggies in this salad marinate in a tangy honey vinaigrette before being tossed with greens, cabbage, goat cheese, and toasted almonds. Serve this salad next to a Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Cherry-Walnut Relish for an elegant outdoor meal.
Take whole wheat spaghetti in a different flavor direction in this Asian-inspired pasta side dish. Stir-fried mushrooms, red peppers, and cabbage are tossed with the cooked noodles in a spicy soy-chile sauce. Marinate some Ginger-Lime Tuna Steaks to throw on the grill for an easy weeknight meal that’s packed with flavor.
Brown rice and hearty lentils come together in this French bistro salad to create a complete protein in one side dish. Grill up some Rosemary Chicken to pack with any leftovers for a lunchtime meal you’ll look forward to the next day.
TIP: Look for small black or green lentils (often labeled lentilles de Puy) in your grocery store. They are sturdier and won’t fall apart in the salad.
The sweet and salty combo of dried cranberries and crumbled bacon make this crunchy salad a total picnic star. If time allows, assemble the salad the day before and refrigerate to let the flavors combine.
Need a quick and easy side that goes with everything and can stand up to the heat of summer? This is it. The recipe calls for fresh dill but feel free to swap in your favorite herbs like cilantro, chives or parsley. Add a grilled Cedar Plank Salmon to the table for a light and flavorful summer meal.
Tasked with bringing dessert? These healthy bars are sweetened with dried apricots and packed with toasted walnuts and oats. A lemony mix of tofu (yes, tofu!), honey, and vanilla bind it all together. Bake and slice into bars for a sweet treat that will fuel any three-legged race crew.