8 appetizing and easy vegetable-forward summery sides

8 Recipes
Asparagus with a tangerine ponzu sauce
(Los Angeles Times)

Satisfying and simple plant-based side dishes for summer


These vegetable-forward side dishes are perfect for summer meals. They complement almost anything that comes off of the grill. They use seasonal, summer vegetables. All can be cooked ahead — before the heat of the day sets in — and will taste better for it because the flavors will have a chance to meld. And if they require cooking, it is on the stovetop — you don’t have to heat the oven for any of them. Bonus: Each can be made in 45 minutes or less.

If you don’t even want to light the stove, consider a slaw as your new best friend. From traditional cabbage coleslaw, branch out to bell pepper and corn slaw or kohlrabi and apple slaw — both are terrific heaped on a pulled pork sandwich or alongside barbecued brisket. Jicama slaw will put a whole new spin on your hot dog.

If you are OK cooking on the stovetop, corn and summer squashes abound at this time of year, and it’s also Hatch chile season, so zesty calabacitas spiked with New Mexico green chiles will be easy to shop for and to make. Almost effortless, carrots simmered in honey and thyme will add bright color to the plate and wow your taste buds.

Add some zing to steamed asparagus with a homemade tangerine ponzu sauce and a sprinkle of togarashi and nori. Fresh herbs and the Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout bring fresh, warm flavors to Israeli couscous.

Whether you prefer to stick with summertime classics or try new flavor combinations, here are eight easy ways to enhance your summer entrees with tasty vegetables on the side.

Jicama slaw

Sticks of jicama are dressed with lime juice and minced serrano chiles. It's got some crisp and some tart and just a little heat. It's like a salad and a salsa combined.
Time25 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Bell pepper and corn slaw

The vivid shades of bell peppers and fresh corn kernals make a beautiful slaw. The earthy cumin and smoky chipotle pepper in the slightly assertive dressing deepen the flavors.
Time35 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw With Yogurt and Cumin

Dressed in a punchy yogurt sauce, julienned kohlrabi and apple combine into a fresh, crunchy salad.
Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Lake Elsinore Smokehouse Tennessee Coleslaw

This slaw is terrific and, like all good slaw, it has a secret. The vegetables are topped with dressing, but not stirred, until the slaw has chilled 24 hours.
Time20 minutes
YieldsServes 16 to 20

Steamed Asparagus with Tangerine Ponzu, Daikon and Nori

Ponzu-soaked grated daikon radish tops the asparagus as a condiment, as does a flurry of togarashi spice and chopped nori.
Time15 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6.

Zucchini, corn and green chile (Calabacitas)

In New Mexico, this zucchini and fresh corn saute called calabacitas is sparked with a healthy dose of indigenous green chile, such as Hatch chiles.
Time25 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Vertical Wine Bistro's Israeli couscous

Large, pearly Israeli couscous is flavored with fresh herbs and garlic, with a bright tang from lemon juice and vinegar and complexity from the Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout.
Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Carrots with honey, lemon zest and thyme

The astringent fresh thyme, aromatic lemon zest and slightly bitter honey coax a depth of flavor out of the carrots that is unexpected in such a simple preparation.
Time35 minutes
YieldsServes 4