Sunday, August 27, 2017


Yup, Labor Day, the last 'offical' picnic/cookout day up here in the Northeast. this has been the oddest summer that I recall. Most of us are still waiting for the warm weather to arrive. On one hand, I am quite content with the fact that I have only had to run my AC for less than a week total this summer. On the other hand, we are a family of kayakers and everything outdoorsy, so swimming has been few and far between.

But this crazy weather has not prevented us from firing up the grill and even taking our meals out on the deck to eat. These side dishes have been part of our menu for quite some time and I think they will be part of yours as well. Not your usual slaw and salad, these warm weather dishes should grace your table, be it picnic or dining room, all year long.


Fresh Butternut Salad with Cranberry Citrus Vinaigrette

This is one of those "salads" that tastes and satisfies as a hearty side dish. Wonderful flavor, filling without feeling guilty and perfectly suited for all times of year. Just a hint of protein is all this recipe needs to accomplish all this and more.

1 small butternut squash(about a pound)
2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crushed walnuts, pecans or your favorite nut
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese(about a half cup)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cranberry Citrus Vinaigrette, recipe below


Cut the neck of the squash from the bulb, saving the bulb for another use. Peel the neck portion and cut in half lengthwise. Using a vegetable peeler, or mandolin if you have one, create long, thin ribbons of squash. Place ribbons in a large bowl. Cut sliced proscuitto into 2-inch segments and add to squash along with remainder of ingredients. Toss well, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving drizzled with Cranberry Citrus Vinaigrette.

For the vinaigrette, place 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup cranberry juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 teaspoon grated orange zest and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar in a blender or food processor and process until completely emulsified.

Enough for 3 servings.


Japanese Sweet Slaw

A gorgeous blend of colorful cabbage, carrots and squash and mixed into the tastiest blend of flavors you can add to coleslaw. A must serve at that final get together of the summer.

1(16-ounce)package shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 small butternut squash(about a pound)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon each lime juice and apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic in oil or garlic powder

Cut the neck of the squash from the bulb, saving the bulb for another use. Peel the neck portion and cut in half lengthwise, using only one half of the neck and keeping other half for another time.

Slice squash into thin "half moons" and then cut them into matchsticks. Add squash to coleslaw mix in a large bowl and set aside.

Put remainder of ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or into a blender and puree on high until well blended. Pour into coleslaw and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Bacon Cole Slaw, Southern Style

Now who doesn't like bacon? I know it seems cliche now, but when a little smoky saltiness is added with genuine Southern sweetness of peaches, you are bound to make this for the Holiday table that will be replacing the picnic table before you know it.

1(16-ounce)package shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt to taste
1 firm white peach, peeled, pitted and diced(see NOTE)
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

It is as easy as putting the coleslaw mix in a large bowl; set aside. Add the next 6 ingredients in another bowl and whisk very well, adding salt to taste. Add to coleslaw mix along with peach and bacon and tossing and mixing well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE: I use a white peach because it is far less 'peachy' in flavor, but is a touch sweeter. By all means, buy a regular peach if desired.

Enough for 6-8 sides.

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