Easy Summer Side Dishes

summer side dishes

Nothing says summertime like backyard BBQs and laid back potlucks with friends and family. There’s just something about eating al fresco that makes everything taste better. Of course, finding the perfect summer time side dish can be more challenging than it would seem. The best dish can be made ahead and is sturdy enough to sit out for a few hours in the shade. 

Hearty salads are generally my go-to, as they’re filling but not as heavy as mac and cheese. This recipe for fresh corn and tomato salad is one of my favorites. The basil makes the sweetness of the corn shine and it can be easily tweaked depending on what you have in the fridge. The key to this recipe is to make sure your corn is super fresh. I like to grab a few ears from one of our local farmers markets: Raleigh State Farmers Market, Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market, Carrboro Farmers’ Market, Chapel Hill Farmers MarketDurham Farmers Market, Cary Downtown Farmers’ Market (to highlight a few).

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad

Serves 5

5 ears of very fresh corn, shucked
Pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 scallions, finely sliced
2 tbl olive oil
3 tbl apple cider, white wine, or rice wine vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon (or extra vinegar)
1/2 cup basil leaves, shredded or julienned
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. If your corn is fresh, use a serrated knife to carefully cut the kernels off the cob, cutting as close to the cob as possible.
  2. If your corn is not super fresh, it may be a little too starchy to enjoy straight off the cob. You’ll want to blanch it by cooking it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, before immediately cooling it off under cold water or in an ice bath. Once the corn has cooled, you can then cut the kernels off the cob. 
  3. Transfer the corn into a bowl and toss with scallions, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. If the corn isn’t quite sweet enough for your taste, you can also add a few pinches of sugar.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Right before serving, add in the basil and toss well to combine. 
  5. The great thing about this salad is if you have extra stuff lying around your fridge you can improvise a bit by throwing in a chopped bell pepper or adding some fresh parsley from your garden. I firmly believe that salad recipes are guidelines and not rules! 
Summer Side Dishes Raleigh Moms Blog

Don’t those colors just scream summer?

Here are a few healthy and hearty recipes. Fresh vegetables and herbs make for the perfect side to offset a meaty main course:

Citrusy Carrot Radish Salad
Dill Potato Salad
Chickpea, Barley, and Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Mint & Feta
Super-Green Edamame Salad

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