The summer is far from over and with plenty of sunny days and warm weather ahead, we can expect plenty more barbeques and backyard bashes with friends and family in the next few months.
And just like the reliable warmth of the summer sun, there's one dish that seems to make its grand appearance at every single barbecue, without fail – the beloved potato salad. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore potato salad with its creamy goodness and delightful medley of flavors. But let's face it, when it comes to this culinary crowd-pleaser, it seems as though everyone in the neighborhood has the same potluck plan in mind. As the host of these festive gatherings, I've come to embrace the recurring potato salad parade, but there's only so much room on the table for these tubs of spuds!
The more the merrier – especially when it comes to sides. But while potato salad may be a classic favorite, let's not forget the vast array of delectable options that can grace our tables. So, look no further, because I've got you covered with three fantastic and easy-to-make recipes that will have your guests coming back for seconds (and thirds!) … oh, and did I mention they are all grilled?! Get ready to impress your friends and family with this trio of sides that will make your next BBQ party one for the books!
- Grilled Plum and Pear Farro Salad
One day, on a total whim, I whipped up this fantastic grain salad, and my guests went wild for it, demanding that I share the recipe. And here's the secret: it's really simple! Grilled plums, pears, and onions steal the show, with a little help from fresh herbs straight from my garden. To bring it all together, we dress it all with olive oil and lemon to add the perfect pop of flavor.
Now, let me introduce you to farro, the unsung hero of ancient grains! You can find it right there at your local grocery store, usually hanging out with the rice. Think of it as pearled barley's cool cousin with a bit more bite and texture. But hey, don't worry if farro isn't your thing – feel free to swap it out for any other whole grain you prefer. However, I've got to say, there's something about farro that just makes this salad sing!
Grilled Plum and Pear Farro Salad
3 cups cooked farro (follow the packaging directions)
2 red plums
2 small or 1 large red pear, under ripe
1 large red onion
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the pear into quarters, removing the core. Halve the plums, removing the pit. Peel your onion and cut into 1/2-inch rings. Lay the cut ingredients out flat on a tray and drizzle with grapeseed oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Grill fruit and onions cut side down until dark grill marks are achieved. Remove the fruit and flip the onions on the grill until the onion is cooked through. Allow all ingredients to cool and then chop into 1/4-inch pieces.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked farro with plum, pear, onion, and rough chopped herbs. Mix and then dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste and serve, room temperature or chilled.
Chef’s note: Any herbs can be used in this recipe. I used what I happened to have in my garden. I was even able to scrounge up some lavender flowers for garnish!
- Grilled Green Tomatoes with Bread Cheese
While we often associate green tomatoes with the classic Southern delicacy of fried green tomatoes, there's a delightful twist to be discovered on the grill. As a gardener with an impatience for ripening tomatoes, I stumbled upon the joy of grilling these emerald gems, and let me tell you, it's a game-changer. With a kiss of smoky flavor and a hint of char, grilled green tomatoes take on a whole new dimension.
They retain a subtle tartness, complemented by a touch of sweetness, creating a perfect balance that will leave your taste buds craving more. So, the next time you find yourself eyeing those green tomatoes in your garden, embrace the grilling magic and embark on a journey of flavors that will leave you wondering why you hadn't tried it sooner! Bread cheese, also grilled, is a great sidekick in this potluck powerhouse! Just ask the cheese fella at your local grocery store. It’s a hidden gem that is usually in stock and often looked over.
Grilled Green Tomatoes with Bread Cheese
3 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch
1 brick bread cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch planks
4-5 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil Leaves to garnish
Cut the green tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices and season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a paper towel. Cut planks of bread cheese into planks and then chill. When your tomatoes have begun to release moisture pat them dry and lightly brush with grapeseed oil.
Heat the grill to high heat and place oiled tomatoes and cheese on the hottest parts of your grill. Allow one side of each ingredients begin to brown. When grill marks have been achieved, transfer all ingredients to a plate.
Stack the grilled cheese in between tomato slices, grilled side up. Sprinkle with chopped sundried tomatoes and dress with lemon juice. Garnish with whole basil leaves.
- Sweet and Spicy Japanese Eggplant
A recipe that holds a very special place in my heart, indeed. This exquisite sauce, passed down to me by a seasoned chef during my years of culinary apprenticeship, has become a treasure I hold dear. Its versatility knows no bounds, enchanting not only vegetables but also an array of succulent meats. And here's the kicker – no cooking required!
We used to refer to this dressing as “The Eggplant Sauce” because we couldn’t find a better vegetable to hold up to it. It soaks up all the goodness and melts in your mouth so beautifully. So here we have some Japanese eggplant and grilled leeks standing in as the canvas for this sensational side!
Sweet and Spicy Japanese Eggplant
3 medium Japanese eggplants, cut 1/2-inch thick on a bias
1 leek, green tops cut off, halved lengthwise, and rinsed thoroughly
Sesame seeds for garnish
For the sauce:
1/4 cup Sriracha style hot sauce
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sumac (optional)
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1/4cup white vinegar
5 tsp kosher salt
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until combined and smooth.
For the vegetables, lightly oil the eggplant and leek halves with a grapeseed oil (or any neutral oil) and season lightly with salt. Grill on high heat until the eggplant is soft and caramelized, and the leek layers have become tender and begin to separate.
Slice the grilled leaks into 1/2-inch sections and toss with grilled eggplant. Dress the vegetables with as much sauce as desired and garnish with white sesame seeds.
There you have it – three tantalizing grilled sides that are sure to steal the show at your next BBQ party! But why stop there? Dive deeper into the world of grilled goodness by signing up for The Chopping Block's outdoor grilling classes. Our expert chefs will guide you through a culinary journey that unlocks the full potential of your grill, opening doors to a variety of flavors and techniques that will elevate your outdoor cooking game.
And if you're looking to host a memorable patio gathering, we've got you covered! Our private patio events offer special grilling menus tailored to your preferences, ensuring an exceptional experience for you and your guests.
So, don't wait any longer! Let the grilling adventure begin with these three sensational sides and let The Chopping Block be your guide to a world of grilled delights. Happy grilling!