My favorite early summer side dishes
6 easy salads to bring to your parties this weekend!
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It’s almost the long, beautiful 4th of July weekend, and Kyle and I are just giddy about it. Despite our feeling confused/annoyed/disappointed/worried about the current state of our nation, we’re still feeling immensely grateful for the opportunity to enjoy a long weekend of summer goodness with people we love.
It’s our first time with three days off to celebrate the 4th since I don’t know… ever! And it feels both strange and wonderful to be enjoying summer this much, without the constant pressure of planting, weeding, CSAing, and harvesting cucurbits.
We haven’t solidified our plans for the next several days, and that too feels strangely wonderful.
We have many good things pending and I’m sure the weekend will be full of rest, good food, fireworks, water, friends, and activity, but right now I’m just loving that we don’t feel forced to commit and schedule like we did when we only had a few hours available each weekend.
So yes, there’s a lot of gratitude and goodness rolling around for us right now.
I hope you have a lovely, warm, beautiful, summer weekend as well, even if you’re not feeling very patriotic at the moment. I hope you grill out, sip pitchers of delicious beverages, snack wildly, and see people you enjoy. Maybe even light a sparkler or two.
I’m excited to share my first Substack recipe round-up. It’s a collection of great salad recipes to make this long weekend to savor yourself or to share. They are all seasonal and delicious, plus they pair well with burgers, brats, hot dogs, and other grillables.
Five of these recipes originated on my blog where they have lived and been enjoyed for years by our CSA members and local community. The sixth one is a new recipe I made years ago for a recipe client and never got around to sharing. It’s a Snap Pea Coleslaw I absolutely adore. The peas add amazing sweetness to the slaw as well as a little extra heft and crunch. I hope you enjoy too.
Happy long weekend friends.
SUGAR SNAP CILANTRO SLAW
Inspired by What’s Cooking Good Looking
I love this slaw all on its own. I could eat heaping bowls of it for lunch with nothing else and be perfectly happy. And like I said earlier, it pairs well with pretty much any summer grill out main dish. However, for something a little extraordinary and different from the usual brats or burgers, pair it with a beautiful filet of salmon (cooked on the grill or in a parchment packet in the oven as done in the recipe that inspired this one).
Serves 4-6 (as a side)
Takes 20 minutes
3 cups snap peas, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise (about 2/3 pound)
3 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro
2-3 garlic scapes, minced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine peas, cabbage, cilantro and scapes in a large bowl. Toss to combine then add mayo, yogurt, lemon juice, sugar, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to the bowl. Stir until veggies are well-coated in the dressing.
This recipe you guys. It will forever be my absolute favorite potato salad recipe. And I’d love to take credit for it, but if you read the blog post you will know that I absolutely cannot.
This is my mother’s invention. She’s made this potato salad countless times over the past decade, and even graciously shared the recipe with my CSA members every September when potatoes and kale collide. I started making it after it first appeared in our CSA newsletter and loved it so much I started making it all the time and tweaking it every so slightly to match our flavor preferences and overtime it morphed into a recipe I considered my own, and then shared publicly on my blog, much to my mother’s dismay.
She’s gotten over it (I think), but let’s just restate here for the people in the back: this recipe is AMAZING and it was originally dreamed up my mother who knew bacon, roasted potatoes, and crispy kale would pair beautifully with a creamy dressing. Yum. It is so good.
One recipe note: it is best served right away and doesn’t actually work great when made the day ahead. In my experience, the dressing soaks into the potatoes in a not desirable way. If you can, make this a couple hours before you eat it.
This recipe is a Midwestern classic that also comes back to my mother: this creamy salad was a staple all summer long at my house growing up. My mom always grew cucumbers in her garden, which meant for 6+ weeks of summer she’d be bringing them in by the dozens because her garden was not small. And though raw cucumbers are a delightful snack, that would get old fast, so she would go the way of creamy cucumber salad.
Maybe my memory fails me, but I never remember a time in summer that the 20-cup bowl wasn’t full of creamy cucumbers. I’d eat them for lunch out of massive soup bowls. And my love for this salad has somehow never died which led me to do my own take on the original salad recipe, making it a bit healthier by way of Greek yogurt. And also sprucing it up with fresh dill because dill makes everything better.
It is prime snap pea season or least this is when they were also peaking in production at our farm. And I know this because every 4th of July weekend, that’s where we usually were, out in the snap pea field picking away by ourselves until the sun went down because somehow we always found ourselves the most behind this particular week of the year and always had a habit of prioritizing our crew for other things, which left us with the insanely slow and tedious task of harvesting a thousand feet of snap peas by ourselves.
This recipe was invented on one of those very busy weeks when we needed something delicious but simple to eat with the mountains of snap peas and beets coming out of the field. It is simple, intensely seasonal (you know, if you forget about those avocados), and seriously showstopping. Make this dish and I promise you will have the most interesting and beautiful addition to whatever cookout you’re headed to.
This recipe is really just a bowl of all my favorite things: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sourdough (toasted into croutons), burrata, and fresh dill. When I make this recipe, I call it dinner (for me, and me alone), which means you really best be making a triple batch (at least) if you’re bringing it to a party. If you are lucky enough to already have cherry tomatoes in your gardens or CSA shares, this is the thing you should be doing with them this weekend. And if you don’t have tomatoes yet, bookmark this one for a month from now when you’re swimming in cherry tomatoes.
And then I need to share just one last homage to my mother and my Midwestern roots. This classic potluck recipe will forever be one of my favorites. I love the original, but I have a lot of fun riffing on it this time of year with either bok choy or Napa cabbage (which are both abundant right now) as well as whatever alliums and spring roots I want to use up. Scallions, green garlic, garlic scapes, thinly sliced radish, turnip, tender early summer carrots, whatever. Throw it in there. The crunchy noodles and sweet, salty dressing will more than be able to stand up to it.
My only caveat with this salad is that bok choy and Napa wilt a bit faster than regular cabbage (which was what the original recipes call for) so I would recommend tossing it with the dressing 15 minutes before serving (but no more). It needs 15 minutes to soften the noodles, but beyond that, will start to get a little soggy.