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New " Make Ahead" BBQ Side Dishes needed

I am planning our annual themed Summer BBQ and this year theme's is Smoketown USA.
I will be offering up Ribs, Brisket, Pulled Pork and Chicken. Besides my staple of grilled corn and cole slaw, I am hoping to try a few new recipes for my side dishes. It would be great if the sides were on the "lighter side" that I can cook ahead. Thanks !

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  1. I love to have baked beans with my barbeque. They can be made in advance and reheated slowly on the day of serving. Also, collard greens require a long boil, but reheat nicely. I think they are on the lighter side of the equation.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

      Baked beans done in the smoker are wonderful

      1. re: scubadoo97

        Love this idea! Would you share the details?

        1. re: smarsh

          Here's a recipe. I don't use recipes per se. Basically you take canned baked beans, season them well and they are often done sweet, then toss them in the smoker for a couple of hours. They pick up a lot of great smoky flavors. Perfect for a BBQ


    2. I went to a BBQ recently where as an alternative to bread or buns, they offered a big basket of lettuce leaves so you could make your own lettuce wraps. They had pulled pork and chicken, some asian slaw and a variety of lightly marinated veggies.

      1. You must try this kale salad....i don't even like kale and this is the best tasting salad I've ever had. All my guests want recipe of this salad and my sisters and friends say they won't show up if I don't make this salad. lol

        It can be made the day before ....dressing can be made a week before...

        I double the dressing usually....


        1. You could make a big big basket of corn sticks (cornbread batter, special pan) and a delicious earthy pot of greens to be served with hot vinegar; wonderful even at room temp and delicious anyway made without the salt pork (and you can used smoked turkey, available at your grocer's, if pork itself is the problem) and no additional lard, margarine or butter, and they'll be delicious; just use plenty of onions and one small shake of allspice. Baked beans needn't be unhealthy either; just avoid huge amounts of sweetened products, sugar, and fat added to the mix. You might compromise and make a five bean salad instead, with sliced onions and oil and vinegar dressing; this is nice with sliced beets added, and very pretty to look at too. And you could also consider a big pasta salad made with a not-mayo dressing; Just add scads of your favorite lightly-steamed veg. or thawed frozed to your fave non-stringy pasta, or raw veg...we've done a variation on Greek Pasta salad, using shell pasta, tomatoes, cukes, bell pepper, red onions, feta and olive with olive/lemon vinaigrette. You can do anything with this. And never forget mac and cheese. It's not light, but it's make-ahead, and if you can't make it light, you can make it light-ER.

          1. This orzo salad is really, really fantastic:


            I up the amount of all the add ins: more lemon juice, more dried cherries (dried cranberries work just fine), more arugula, more basil, more pine nuts. :) I make this as a side for my grilled ribs all the time and have yet to have someone try it who doesn't love it.

            The spreading and oiling of the orzo insures that the orzo doesn't clump together later. I've made this in the morning to serve in the afternoon and it's been great. It's still excellent the next day, but if I were making it to serve the next day, I would probably leave out the cherries and nuts and toss those in at the last minute.

            1. Jalapeno corn bread muffins or mini muffins are easy and can be made with canned green chiles to keep the heat level down, i always make ahead then warm and serve the day-of.

              I also like to do a sweet and sour cucumber and onions side that is a nice transition between the bbq as it's sweetish with sugar and spices, but has vinegar to cut the onion and cucumber bite. I also like to copy a local BBQ joint and do a garlic and parsley diced red potatoes. Served warm, but are basically cooked red potatoes, quartered and partly smashed, roasted garlic, granulated garlic, freah parsley , butter, salt and pepper and maybe a splash of basalmic vinegar if I want some acid.Because of the denseness of the potatoes they cook and hold real well.

              Room temp, or sighltly warm , cold, and cook and hold for the above 3 thus why I love them. And all do-ahead.

              Good luck.

              EDIT: and BTW, if you are not doing mac and cheese, baked beans are a must. At least to me... LOL.

              1. Baked beans done in a slow cooker make it easy. Here's an old-fashioned maple baked beans recipe I put together a while back.

                Linda's Old-fashioned Maple Baked Beans

                1 lb dried navy beans
                1/2 large onion, finely chopped
                1 cup maple syrup
                1/2 cup chili sauce
                2 tsp dry mustard
                1/2 tsp salt
                1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
                1/4 lb salt pork, scored 1/4" deep on the fat side of of the salt pork
                1 1/2 cups boiling water
                2 Tbsp tomato paste, if needed

                ***NOTE***: This could also be cooked in a slow cooker for about 8-10 hours until done, adding tomato paste about halfway through cooking.

                The day before, pick through the beans to make sure no dirt or small stones remain. Place in a 4-qt. stockpot and cover with water, making sure water is at least 2" over top of beans. Cover, and let soak overnight. Drain in a colander.

                Preheat oven to 300°F.

                Place beans back into oven-proof stockpot and mix in the onions. In a separate bowl, mix together maple syrup, chili sauce, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour over beans and onions, place scored salt pork on top, and pour in boiling water. Stir well, and cover.

                Bake in preheated oven for 5-6 hours, stirring every few hours. Three-quarters of the way through cooking, add some or all of the tomato paste if needed for thickening, stirring in well to blend. Bake for another hour or so, until sauce is thickened.

                1. I tried a romaine salad with crushed, dry ramen noodles and an oriental (japanese-ish) dressing that was different, tasty too.
                  To me, nothing says bbq side dish like potato salad. You can do a few riffs, maybe add Old Bay, or use red-potato/skin on, or load up with jalapenos.
                  If you go with beans, i'd suggest making at least 2 days ahead - the flavors will develop in the fridge before rewarming on the day-of.
                  I also like a pasta salad, bow tie or penne, tossed with fresh chopped garlic, bell pepper, tomato, olive oil, S&P, maybe frozen peas. Make ahead and let it come to room temp on the day-of.

                  1. Thanks everyone for the great ideas ! I can't wait to try all the recipes !

                    1. Southwestern Pasta Salad. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/southwes.... I've made this a number of times. It's quick and easy to make and very tasty. However, it's better made the day of. I've noticed that it's not as good as it gets older.