Fire up your grills, bring out the cold drinks, and invite your friends and family over! It's that perfect time of year when it's warm enough for an outdoor gathering, but not too warm yet. You can keep your BBQs healthy and fresh with these seasonal side dishes. Many of the ingredients below, as well as your main meat entrees, can be found at a farmers market near you or by searching Good Food Finder. And stay tuned for an upcoming announcement for new and exciting changes to Arizona's largest local foods directory!
Three Sisters Pesto Pasta Salad
For the pasta: 16 oz whole wheat pasta such as cavatappi, farfalle, rotini, or penne 1 c zucchini or other summer squash, diced 1 c corn, cut from the cob 1 c green beans, ends trimmed cut into one inch pieces 1 c tomatoes, diced ½ c crumbled, cooked bacon (optional) 1 recipe basil pesto, below
For the pesto: 2 c basil, loosely packed 2 cloves garlic, peeled ¼ c pine nuts ½ c olive oil, or more to achieve thinner pesto 1 to 2 tbs water as needed 2 tbs parmesan, grated (optional) Juice of one lemon Red pepper flakes Salt and pepper
- Place all the ingredients for the pesto in a blender or food processor. Season generously with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes as desired. Blend until completely smooth. Add more olive oil, or a few tablespoons of water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.
- Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. During last three minutes of boiling, add the green beans to the pasta and water. Drain both beans and pasta in a colander and immediately rinse in cold water to halt cooking.
- Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet over medium and add about one teaspoon of olive oil until just smoking. Add zucchini and corn and stir frequently until charred, about 5 minutes.
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Add half of pesto and toss to combine. Add more pesto as desired. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
Quick Cucumber Pickles, Asian Style
4 c cucumbers (about one pound), partially peeled, ends removed, and sliced ½ c red onion, thinly sliced ½ c carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks 2 or more jalapeno or serrano chiles, thinly sliced ¼ c rice vinegar 1 tbs fish or soy sauce 1 tbs sugar
- Peel and slice cucumbers and place in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle the cucumber slices with salt and toss to combine. Let sit 20 minutes, rinse with cold water, and then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Whisk together vinegar, fish or soy sauce, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive dish with a lid and stir to combine. Cover the pickles and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.
Watermelon with Mint and Lime
6 c watermelon, cubed 1 tsp lime zest Juice of two limes 2 tbs honey or agave syrup ¼ c mint, roughly chopped
- Whisk together lime zest, juice, and honey.
- Pour lime mixture over watermelon cubes and sprinkle with mint.
- Toss to combine and chill for at least one hour before serving.