Show-stopping summer side dishes

Tasty dishes for the summer. (ABC7)

Grilling season is here, but we all know a cookout is just as much about the sides as it is the meat. Jonathan Bardzik, chef and author of “Seasons to Taste,” dished show-stopping summer sides for your next gathering.

Thai Cucumber Salad

Serves 4-6


  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1-2 tbs palm or maple sugar
  • 2-3 tbs vegetable or grape seed
  • 1-2 Thai bird chiles, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tbs chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  • Slice cucumbers in 1/4” half rounds and toss with tomato in a medium bowl.
  • Sprinkle minced garlic with coarse salt and mash into a paste on your cutting board using a fork or the ?at side of your knife. Place in a separate bowl.
  • Whisk vinegar, ?sh sauce and sugar together with garlic paste.
  • While whisking, drizzle oil into vinegar mixture. This will form a creamy emulsion.
  • Whisk chiles, lime zest and herbs into dressing. Season with salt and white pepper. Taste with a piece of cucumber and season to taste with additional vinegar, ?sh sauce or salt.
  • Toss cucumbers and tomatoes with dressing and let sit 20 minutes for ?avors to develop. Check seasoning and serve.
  • Tip: Any salad that releases water, like cucumber or fruit, will dilute your dressing. If you make it ahead of time, check and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Corn and Bacon Salsa

Makes about 1 1/2 cups of salsa

For salsa

  • 5 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Sherry vinegar


  • Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides. Remove from pan and dry on paper towels. Drain bacon fat, leaving 2 tbs in pan.
  • Return pan to medium heat and add red onion. Cook until softened. Add red pepper and jalapeño. Sauté 3 additional minutes.
  • Add raw corn, increase heat to medium-high and cook for 3-5 minutes until edges of corn turn golden.
  • Chop bacon and stir into salsa along with cilantro, cumin and chili powder. Remove from heat.
  • Season to taste with a splash of vinegar, salt and pepper. Add additional cumin or chili powder as needed.

Tomato Panzanella

Serves 8

For Salad

  • 6 cups fresh country bread cut in 1” pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large, perfect tomatoes, cut into 1? pieces. My favorites are the heirlooms Brandywine and Black Cherokee.
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil

For dressing

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cups olive oil - the good stuff


  • Toss bread in 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Toast bread in a 400 degree oven or a sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown and crisp. About 5-7 minutes.
  • Toss together tomatoes, onion and basil.
  • Make dressing: Pound garlic with a pinch of course sea salt into a paste. Whisk together garlic paste, mustard, vinegar and black pepper. Pour the oil into the vinegar in a thin stream, while whisking. This will form a creamy emulsion.
  • Check the flavor of the dressing with a piece of tomato. Season to taste with additional, salt, pepper, oil or vinegar.
  • Add bread to the tomatoes and toss through with the dressing.
  • Tip: The bread will get soggy over time, so add the bread and dress right before serving. To make enough for leftovers, store the vegetables, bread and dressing separately.

Red White And Blueberry Salad

Serves 6-8


  • 1/2 pound mesclun
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

For dressing

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cups olive oil


  • Make dressing: Whisk together shallot, vinegar and mustard. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  • While whisking vinegar, add olive oil in a thin stream, to form a creamy emulsion.
  • Taste dressing with a couple of leaves of mesclun blend. Adjust balance of oil and vinegar. Add salt if needed.
  • In a large bowl, lightly dress mesclun with 1/2 of dressing, tossing to coat.
  • In a separate bowl, toss together and lightly dress raspberries and blueberries.
  • Serve mesclun greens topped with dressed fruit.

Peach Quesadillas

Serves 5 as a main dish or 10 as an appetizer


  • 6 tbs olive oil
  • 3 large pork sausage links
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 10 6” corn tortillas
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
  • 3 peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil


  • Warm 1 tbs olive oil in a 10” skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casings and add to pan with Chinese 5 Spice power and soy sauce.
  • Breaking up the sausage as it cooks, sauté until browned and cooked through.
  • Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add onion to pan and sauté until softened and edges begin to brown. If pan is dry, add 1 tbs olive oil.
  • Stir in cumin and season to taste with salt and pepper
  • To assemble quesadillas, layer one corn tortilla with 1/4 cup cheese, cooked sausage, peach slices, onions and basil. Top with another 1/4 cup cheese and a second tortilla. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 5 quesadillas.
  • Fry each quesadillas in 1 tbs oil over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side, turning once when the tortilla begins to brown in spots With a pizza cutter, slice into wedges and serve.
  • Tip: Nothing slices quesadillas better than a pizza cutter. Cutting them with a knife always pushes the ingredients out the sides.
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