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Ten Best Summer Side Dishes

Updated on March 12, 2014

Simple and Tasty Side Dishes for Summer Meals

Summer is a time for cold meats and grilled fish, for barbecues and chilled desserts. But how about side dishes to balance the meal?

It's easy to run out of ideas when the weather is hot, and often hard to think of anything beyond some leaves of iceberg lettuce.

Forget those endless sides of cold pasta, here are some recipes anyone can cook for side dishes to go with your Summer meals.

Susanna Duffy

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A refreshing change from potato chips and a bright colour for the Summer table.

I've used the orange sweet potato in this recipe, the kumara.

You can slice up any number of sweet potatoes, but keep them in fine strips, you know what the size of a chip should be.

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 6


  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F - 200 degrees C.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spay or vegetable oil.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes finely and slice into sticks.
  4. Mix oil and paprika in a bowl. . Add potato sticks and push them around with your hands until they're coated.
  5. Place on the sheet and bake for 40 minutes
Cast your vote for Sweet Potato Sticks

Red Potato Salad

The old favourite of Summer Side Dishes - potato salad.

This one uses red potatoes for extra colour.

Note : When boiling potatoes, always start with cold water, add the potatoes and bring to the boil. Don't boil the water first and add the potatoes.

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hour 40 min
Ready in: 2 hours
Yields: 4 - 6


  • 1 kilo new red potatoes
  • 1 red or green capsicum - bell pepper - chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 salad onion
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves


  1. In a heavy pot, cover potatoes with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook on low for approximately 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.
  2. In a large bowl, blend mayonnaise, basil, salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until well blended.
  3. Cover and chill 1 to 2 hours. Serve.

Green Tomato Casserole

You can always eat green tomatoes, although I tend to pickle mine if I have too many.

This little casserole is tasty and cheesey when served hot and just as tasty when served cold.

For an side dish that's a little different, this one hits the spot.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 1 and 1/4 hours


  • 6 medium green tomatoes sliced
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated hard cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • teaspoon sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon pepper


  1. Place 1/3 of the tomatoes in a casserole dish
  2. Add 1/3 of bread crumbs and 1/3 cheese. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper
  3. Repeat this layer
  4. For the last layer, finish with the breadcrumbs, reserving the last 1/3 of the cheese
  5. Dot butter over the top.
  6. Cover the casserole dish with the lid or aluminum foil and bake in medium oven for one hour.
  7. Remove from oven and add the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered until cheese melts, about 5 - 10 minutes

Stuffed Capsicum (Bell Pepper)

I've always called these red and green vegetables capsicums but they're known as bell peppers in some parts of the world.

They're not at all hot, more of a slight tangy taste and, because of their shape, are so easily used as a cup for stuffing.

This stuffing is quick and painless. Tomatoes from a can, onions and topped with cheese..

You could add olives or capers to the stuffing mix.

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 4


  • 2 large red (or green) capsicums - bell peppers
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • Can of Roma Italian tomatoes
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 2 white onions diced
  • 1 cup fresh grated sharp cheese


  1. Remove the top from the capsicums and scrape out the insides to make them hollow.
  2. Chop the onions and mince the garlic.
  3. Stuff the tomatoes, onions and garlic into the capsicums. Push the stuffing down tightly. If the capsicums are really large and you have room left over for more stuffing, use fresh roughly-chopped tomatoes as well.
  4. Stuff the cheese down last.
  5. Place in an oven proof dish and cover with a lid or aluminum foil.
  6. Bake in a medium oven for 40 minutes

Mushroom Risotto

Portobello mushrooms are rich, thick and chunky. They present well in a risotto.

This is basically a mushroom soup that you cook the rice in.

The risotto absorbs everything and you're left with smooth rice with the flavour of the portobellos.

A glossy side dish that's super easy for self service.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 15

Total Time: 40

Serves: 6


  • 1 kilo portobellos
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 white onions or shallots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Basil leaves for garnish


  1. In a small pot, warm the stock gently over low heat.
  2. Pour a little vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and their liquid. Set aside.
  3. Add a little more oil to the pan and add the chopped shallots. Cook 1 minute.
  4. Now add the rice to the pan. stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes.
  5. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden colour, pour in the wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.
  6. Add 1/2 cup stock to the rice, and stir until it's absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time stirring continuously until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Garnish with torn basil or mint leaves

Green Beans with Ham

Fresh green beans, haricot vert, shine with the rich green of Summer.

Simmered with onion and ham, they're a good enough meal in themselves.

The ham can be left out for a meat free dish

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: 6


  • 500 g fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cooked diced ham
  • 1.4 cup water
  • 1.4 cup butter
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper


  1. Trim the ends off the beans. Slice and dice the onions and ham.
  2. Add butter to a large saucepan on low heat
  3. Combine all ingredients and put them in the saucepan. .
  4. Cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 15 - 20 minutes.


Delightfully refreshing, the creamy dressing is perfect to dollop on the barbecue meat.

You can add tzatziki to anything, it gives that final touch to a Summer plate.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 1 and 1/4 hours

Serves: 6


  • 4 cucumbers
  • 2 cups Greek yoghurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper


  1. Peel the cucumbers, and grate by hand (not in a blender).
  2. Squeeze out excess water by hand.
  3. Stir yoghurt.into the cucumbers
  4. Add some lemon juice for taste
  5. Tear the mint and add.
  6. Chill, covered, for 1 hour or more.


Coleslaw is an old favourite for Summer meals.

Whip up this tangy dish in no time for a perfect side to the barbecue.

You could also make this using purple cabbage if you're after more colour.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 20 ins

Serves: 4 - 6


  • 1 small green cabbage finely shredded
  • 2 medium carrots coarsely grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • large pinch of rock salt


  1. Dressing
  2. Whisk up he dressing ingredients - mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, mayonnaise, and sour cream - in a small bowl. Refrigerate.
  3. Slaw
  4. Put cabbage, carrots, and onion in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss thoroughly. Refrigerate, Serve chilled

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

The secret of this side dish is the very smooth, very creamy cheese sauce.

In this recipe I used a red cheddar, but any ripe cheddar cheese will do.

You have to stand and stir this sauce as it cooks up and then you have to whisk it after removing the pot from the heat.

It's well worth the extra few minutes to get the velvety sauce!

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: 6


  • Broccoli florets to serve 6
  • 1 tablespoon plain all purpose flour
  • teaspoon butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheese
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper


  1. In a medium saucepan add the butter over a very low heat.
  2. Add the flour. Stir. Quickly add the milk..
  3. Stir constantly until smooth.
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Add cheese, salt and pepper stirring with a whisk until smooth.
  6. Keep warm
  7. Pour the cheese sauce over steamed broccoli

Greek Salad

The Lebanese cucumbers are delightfully cook with a distinct taste of their own.

You could also add a capsicum (bell pepper) deseeded and sliced for extra texture and colour.

If you can't get Greek oregano use regular dried oregano

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 5 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: 6


  • 6 firm ripe tomatoes chopped into rough wedges
  • 3 Lebanese cucumbers chopped in medium thick slices
  • 1 large red onion sliced into rings
  • 1 cup Kalamatta olives
  • 1 cup marinated feta in cubes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • teaspoon dried Greek oregano
  • pinch salt


  1. Combine tomato, cucumber, onion, capsicum, olives and feta in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with oregano and salt.
  2. Whisk together the oil and vinegar in a jug. Drizzle the salad with dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Serve your Sides on a bright, Summery plate

Clay Art Tuscan Sunflower Serve Bowl
Clay Art Tuscan Sunflower Serve Bowl
A good size, durable and attractive. Dishwasher safe.
Clay Art Tuscan Sunflower Shaped Platter
Clay Art Tuscan Sunflower Shaped Platter
More bright and cheerful sunflowers! Just right for Summer Side dishes.

How about you?

Do you run out of ideas for Summer side dishes?

See results

Images, unless otherwise specified, Susanna Duffy

Got more ideas for Summer sides? Leave your suggestions or just a comment. All comments are greatly appreciated. You don't have to be a BBQ fanatic to leave yours


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