picking sides

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Salads and Dressings, Grains and Pasta, Veggies and Sides, Dinner for Two, Supper, Dinner Party, Posted on June 20, 2021 by Sandy Bergsten

This Fourth of July we are staying in the city. Thought it might be fun to invite some friends over to celebrate our country’s independence and relish in our now chilly dining room courtesy of our newly installed AC unit.

Just because you are an apartment dweller doesn’t mean you can’t have an indoor barbeque. The key is figuring out what to prepare. Then pair it up with sides that evoke the backyard. I’m going to serve up some Neiman’s Ranch pulled pork topped with a little homemade coleslaw on brioche buns. My neighborhood Whole Foods carries it all. Then to keep things on the lighter, but nostalgic side I’m going to make a trio of salads. Old school macaroni, corn basil and feta, and arugula with shaved parmesan.

Nothing beats old fashioned macaroni salad. Start with a half-pound of dried elbow noodles. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles until a little past al dente according to the package directions, then rinse under cold water and drain. Once the noodles are cool enough to handle with your hands, transfer them to a large bowl.

Finely dice a rib of celery, one half red pepper, a quarter cup of red onion and shred one small carrot.

Add the celery, bell pepper, carrots and onion to the cooled noodles and toss to combine.

Make the dressing in a medium bowl, whisk together one half cup mayonnaise, a quarter cup of sour cream, two tablespoons apple cider vinegar, one and a half teaspoons granulated sugar, one and a half teaspoons yellow mustard, half a teaspoon kosher salt and a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture and toss until everything is well coated. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, it’s best if refrigerated overnight. 

Dusting the top with a little paprika before serving is a must.

Nothing says summer like corn salad with basil and feta. If you can’t find peak of the season fresh corn, believe it or not high-end frozen sweet corn is an excellent sub. Start with four cups of fresh off the cob kernels or if using frozen sweet corn, rinse until thawed and drain well.

Halve one cup of cherry tomatoes.

Crumble one third cup of feta cheese.

Finely chop one quarter of a red onion.

Thinly slice one quarter cup of fresh basil.

Add to a large bowl and toss with three tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of one lime. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. The salad can be made a day ahead of time without the feta. Cover and refrigerate. Toss with feta right before serving.

A peppery arugula salad is a fresh complement to the corn salad and adds lightness to the macaroni salad. Start with a handful of arugula per person. 

Toss with a simple shallot vinaigrette. 

Add some freshly shaved parmesan cheese and plenty of freshly ground pepper.

The only thing missing from this plate will be the mosquitos!

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