I’m often at a loss as to side dishes to serve outside of just veg, rice, and potatoes. So when I came across 10 Make-Ahead Summer Side Dishes in Real Simple, I was pretty excited. I’m all for trying new recipes. Mixing it up.

I like these recipes for a few reasons. All the recipes are made with simple, fresh ingredients. Many are coming from my backyard and farmer’s markets. They are actually beautiful to the eye as well as to the taste buds. And I can make them ahead or in my case the morning before I get really busy and/or really tired. Pair with some simply seasoned grilled meat or fish and you’ve got a perfect summer meal. With leftovers for lunch or another dinner so I good value. All of them seem healthy with calorie counts from 61 to 223 per serving. And that isn’t bad.

The recipes use lots of fresh herbs. I’m a fan of that. I’ve really upgraded my herb garden this season. I’ve found it hard to find herbs consistently here and when I do they tend to be expensive. So I’ve started to grow herbs I haven’t been able to find locally: dill, chives, and tarragon. 

I’ve been looking for a good potato salad recipe. The creamy dill potato salad fits it perfectly. It is so very simple to make. Can I say a potato salad is refreshing? Well this recipe is totally refreshing with sour cream, lemon juice and fresh dill as main ingredients. So glad I planted dill because I’m using it a lot with this recipe. Also the sauce I think would work on salmon.

Easy to make:
– Steam or boil 3 lb of new potatoes halved (I use red new potatoes) until tender about 15-20 min.
– Drain and let cool. I do this first thing in the morning before the house heats up too much.
– Combine 1/3 cup each of sour cream and mayo, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (one big lemon), and 6 sliced scallions.
– Season with salt and black pepper. I use kosher salt and grind a mixed pepper.
– Toss the potatoes in sauce.
– Put in fridge for up to 8 hrs before serving. Mine’s in there longer and it turns out fine.

Bean salad is another good summer stand-by. The bean salad with bacon and chives is very good and because it is beans, it is very filling.

Another easy one to make:
– Cook six slices of bacon over medium heat until crisp which is about 10 minutes. Crumble it. I actually slice the bacon before I cook it. Drain on paper towels and set aside at room temperature.
– Drain and wash 3 15.5oz cans of cannellini beans.
– Combine 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and whole-grain mustard. I use Gray Poupon.
– Season with salt and pepper.
– Toss the beans with the sauce.
– Put in fridge for up to 8 hrs before serving.
– Just before serving add the crumbled bacon and 3 tablespoons of fresh chives.

I tried one more recipe, the tomato salad with ginger and mint. Sorry no photo of this one, but it was a pretty looking salad. Very unique favors:
– Toss 3 lb halved or quartered tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of canola oil and 1 tablespoon of finely grated fresh ginger.
– Season with salt and pepper.
– Set aside at room temperature for up to 8 hours.
– Just before serving, toss with 2/3 cup torn fresh mint leaves and 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest.

Soon, I will be trying corn salad with Parmesan and chilies and spicy marinated raw zucchini. The combinations intrigue me. I’m thinking of pair them with salmon. And hopefully, I’ll be able to find red chili. I tried four shops today… two in Tarboro and two in Rocky Mount.

And after my eggplant produces, I am trying the grilled eggplant with parsley and pine nuts. So I’m watching my plants like a hawk. I love me some eggplant.

If you are looking for summer side salads to bring to picnics or for family dinners I suggest you out Real Simple. You will not be disappointed.