Spring is here, summer is on the way and you’re ready for a weekend of suns out, buns out (burgers and otherwise). The barbecue has been scrubbed clean, your wine fridge is full of Provence Rosé, you found the perfect summer playlist, invited all the best people and you’ve stocked up on meat, fish and every kind of halloumi. But the secret sauce to every delicious barbecue bash is the side dishes.
Sure, this might require running around your kitchen as you sync a ton of moving pieces into harmony, but it’s essential to make sure that your side dishes aren’t just afterthoughts. Instead, you want your selection of sides to be showstoppers that can transform an otherwise mediocre spread of hot dogs, burgers and chicken thighs into an al fresco banquet that will have your guests going back for more.
That’s where we’ve got your back because we’ve hand-picked some of our favourite side dishes so that your next barbecue of the season sets the standard for the rest of the summer. Enjoy.
This one might technically be a salad, but it blurs the lines thanks to the inclusion of delicious breads and hearty flavours, making any leftovers the perfect light supper when your belly starts to rumble. And the best part: all you need is some mixed tomatoes, rustic sourdough, basil leaves, shallots, olive oil and a few different seasonings to make it sing.
We know what you’re thinking: another salad, really? But when they’re this varied, you’ll find yourself fielding non-stop compliments, especially with this shrimp and mango salad; a dish you can easily put your own spin on. Thinly-sliced raw cabbage, sliced romaine, toasted peanuts, toasted sunflower seeds, cucumber, avocado and thick slices of mango, all topped off with either king prawns, grilled chicken, halloumi or even baked tofu.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an unwavering carnivore or an experimental vegetarian, it’s not a barbecue without halloumi – and this delicious side dish will show you why. Simply grill your protein-packed Greek cheese, mix in some crunchy green beans and fluffy couscous, and then toss it all around in some lemon zest and dill for the most refreshing bite.
Not many side dishes can claim to be more delicious, energising and reinvigorating than this watermelon, cucumber and feta combination. Simply chop your three main ingredients into bite size pieces, chuck in some mint and red onion, and then splash it with a very simple vinaigrette for the easiest, quickest, most flavoursome side dish that just screams summer. From the way it tastes to the way it looks, this is a side that says summer. is. here.
Go from naught to wow in just twenty minutes with this Instagrammable coleslaw; the perfect side to any and every barbecue. Simply shred some cabbage, grate some carrots, slice a yellow pepper, trim some spring onions and then throw in a combination of raisins, celeriac, natural yoghurt, cream and some lemon juice. Voila, your rainbow slaw is ready.
This is one of those summer side dishes that just has it all: smoky grilled eggplant, spicy chiles and a yoghurt drizzle to cool it all down. And just making it will add some colour to your kitchen, while any vegetarians on your guest list will start to snap photos of your creation. All you need to do is thickly slice your aubergine lengthways, drizzle them with olive oil, add some cayenne pepper, grill it all and then top it with chillies, tomatoes and mint leaves before drizzling with yoghurt.
Gnocchi is one of those things usually served exclusively in a bowl with some sort of sauce. But gnocchi that’s been ever-so-slightly charred on the grill and then served with cherry tomatoes, red onion and then lightly covered with salsa verde will elevate your barbecue, no doubts about it. Chewy yet crispy, the gnocchi is then brought to life by the familiar and vibrant flavours of the tomato and red onions to leave you wondering why you’ve never experimented like this before.
Every barbecue needs that unexpected superstar that grabs your attention despite your first thoughts. This is that superstar. Combining lightly spiced rice with your egg salad, this side dish is the perfect way to announce the arrival of summer in just half-an-hour, from start to finish. But if you really want to make this dish pop, try adding some toasted almonds, grated carrots and sliced cucumbers to the mix. Delicious.
For those that have never tried Bang Bang Prawns/Shrimp, let us tell you it’s 100% worth the hype. But this flavour-filled alternative deserves some time in the spotlight too, especially if you’re looking for an exciting way to get your vegetarian guests salivating. The secret is all in the bang bang butter, which is a combination of chilli sauce, butter, sriracha, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. Once you’ve made that, slather it all over your corn, grill on a medium temperature for 15 minutes, basting every now and then before serving. Mmmmm. This is the one.