We all know the magic the grill can bring this time of year when it comes to mains like brats, burgers, steak, kabobs, and the like…but don’t forget side dishes! The grill can be an amazing way to prep easy, mouthwatering, memorable sides that might even impress everyone more than the main dish. (Shh! No one tell the meat.)
I have to start this list with my favorite grilled side. This dish requires just four ingredients, three of which I know you already have on hand: romaine hearts, olive oil, salt, and pepper. And yet it adds so much to a summertime meal. Give this easy preparation a try in place of a traditional salad at your next cookout. Just cut the hearts of romaine in half vertically, rub the cut side of the romaine lightly with olive oil to coat, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on the grill and cook until lettuce is slightly wilted and charred—it should only take a few minutes.
Get ready for a ridiculously easy and super delicious side dish. Grilling okra manages to downplay its viscous interior—a turnoff for many. Toss whole, raw okra in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place directly on the grill, cooking for roughly five to seven minutes. Meanwhile, empty a can of fire-roasted tomatoes into a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high until hot (about two to three minutes). Top the grilled okra with some of the warm tomatoes and serve. You could make this recipe slightly more complicated (but arguably fresher) by using ripe tomatoes and roasting them, but trust me when I say that the canned version is pretty great as-is.
Anna Keller of Curiouser & Curiouser
This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh, sweet summertime corn. Buy some ears of unshucked corn and carefully peel back the husk, but don’t remove from the corn completely (pull the husks down so most of the ear is exposed—you do want to remove the silks). Rub some softened butter on the corn, then add roughly chopped fresh basil on top of the butter. Fold the husks back up and tie them closed (you can use a string or an extra piece of husk to tie). Grill for 15-20 minutes, rotating periodically.
Beakers and Bouillabaisse
This has been my dad’s go-to grilled side item for as long as I can remember, and it’s a wonderfully tasty addition to any meal (especially as a side to steak). Cut a Vidalia onion into a few large wedges (about eight or so), and place the wedges onto a large sheet of aluminum foil. Slice two tablespoons or so of butter into a few dabs and place on top of the onion wedges. Add the seasoning of your choice (my dad loves Dale’s Steak Seasoning, but you can use minced garlic and seasoning salt with a bouillon cube instead, or another marinade). Wrap the onion wedges in the foil, ensuring the seams are closed tightly. Grill for 30-40 minutes, rotating occasionally, until onion is soft and tender.
To continue with the “vegetables grilled in aluminum foil” trend, I nominate grilled potatoes next. For this dish, you just need about a pound of small potatoes, plus olive oil, and salt, pepper, and chopped fresh parsley to taste. Place the potatoes on a large piece of parchment-lined foil, then drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold into a tight packet and grill over medium-high until potatoes are tender, 25 to 30 minutes (it all depends on the size of the potatoes). Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!
Anna Keller likes the occasional fancy, over-the-top meal served on a white tablecloth, but will be just a happy with dinner from Taco Bell (she and her husband were there the day they launched their new breakfast menu.) For her, food is about the experience, the story, the tradition, and the community it provides, and it takes a starring role in her blog, where she shares recipe creations and recreations—usually of the baking variety.