By Kara Kimbrough
Summer sidekicks steal the show
“Hey, do you mind bringing a side dish?” This refrain is heard across the country minutes after a summer cookout invitation is issued. The good news is you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to create a crowd-pleasing side dish. Whether you are a guest or even the host, almost any contribution you make will be appreciated and devoured along with the burgers and hot dogs.
When preparing specialty or side dishes, remember that people will, in all likelihood, appreciate the extra effort and time that went into the preparation. There’s nothing more fulfilling to a cook than to have a guest say, “This is delicious; would you make this for me again?” or to have someone ask you to bring the same dish to the next event — especially if you took the time to get creative with a standard dish.
FIRECRACKER PASTA SALAD
- 3 7-ounce boxes DaVinci tortellini
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 small green bell pepper
- 1 small orange bell pepper
- 1 small yellow bell pepper
- 1 small red onion
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 3 ounces Kalamata olives,
- pitted and chopped
- 2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups olive oil
- 2 ounces strawberry-chipotle
- balsamic vinegar*
- 1 ounce Dijon mustard
- 2 ounces honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
Dice peppers, onion and asparagus and place in a bowl. Boil tortellini until tender, then drain and cool.
For the dressing add Dijon, honey, garlic and balsamic vinegar into a bowl, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Whisk rapidly until oil is emulsified into a creamy texture. Add pasta and the onion/peppers mix. Add olives and sundried tomatoes. Chill 1 hour, then top with Parmesan and serve.
*If you cannot find this balsamic, regular balsamic is fine.
EASY BLUEBERRY COBBLER
- 1ó cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 stick butter
- Cooking spray
- 1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts
- Extra butter and sugar for topping
Stir water, sugar, butter and berries together in saucepan over medium-high. (If you have more berries like I did, just increase the other ingredients a little; taste to make sure it’s sweet enough.) Heat to boiling, then lower heat and let simmer a few minutes, stirring often.
Spray a deep pastry dish or 9” x 13” casserole dish (a regular pie plate will not work) with cooking spray, or grease with butter. Cover bottom of dish evenly with prepared pie crust, then pour blueberry mixture over crust, spreading to cover. Place the other crust over top and pinch dough against edges to keep “majority” of juice from seeping out during cooking.
Sprinkle top with sugar and add small dots of butter over crust. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
COBBLER TIP: I bought an extra box of pie crusts (I used a cheaper store-brand crust for the bottom since it absorbs the juice) and rolled two Pillsbury crusts out on a floured surface, with ends touching. I rolled the edges of the crusts together with a rolling pin to make an extra-long crust. When I placed it over the berries, it was too big, so I used a knife to trim it down. This way, you have extra crust to work with — you want the berry mixture to be covered well.
OLD-FASHIONED POTATO SALAD
- 2 bags fingerling potatoes (Yukon Gold,
- Peruvian Purple or Red Fingerling)
- 3 boiled eggs, chopped
- 1/4 cup bread and butter pickles, diced (reserve juice)
- 3 ounces chopped olives
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 ounces Dijon mustard
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons dill
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 2 stalks green onions, diced, for garnish
Cut potatoes into medium pieces, then boil in salted water until soft. Drain and let cool. In a bowl, mix Dijon and mayonnaise then mix in the eggs, pickles, olives, onions and celery. Stir in the cooled potatoes. Add dill, pickle juice and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a bowl and chill one hour, then top with diced green onions for garnish and serve.