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Hope this isn't requested to death, but need some ideas for BBQ side dishes for memorial day

I'm invited to a BBQ. It is at a friend's farm that i've never been to, and about an hour drive for me. She is grilling meat and providing a salad and Sangria. I asked if I could bring anything and she said a side, munchies and/or other drinks if i'm not into Sangria.
I do not know any of the other guests there. I haven't asked yet if I could use an oven to reheat or the grill.
I can obviously use a cooler to transport anything. Any ideas that are interesting and not just baked beans or deviled eggs?

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  1. I almost always bring a corn and black bean salad (there are tons of recipes online). It's wonderful with chips as an appetizer and goes really well with just about any grilled meat.

    1. I am confused if you mean an actual bbq or will the just be grilling?
      Do not bring anything you need to heat/fussy with there.
      I am not sure why no baked beans..easy to keep warm or deviled eggs...always a hit

      Other thoughts
      Pimento cheese and crackers
      Fruit and dip
      A couple of big ole watermelons
      Green goddess dressing with offbeat dippers
      Tomato pie or tart
      Potato salad
      Broccoli salad..always first to go
      Lemonade..even pink
      Mint infused water
      Sweet tea

      1 Reply
      1. re: LaLa

        Great idea! +1 on tomato pie. I forgot about that one. I will make closer to tomato season!

      2. I'm guessing her salad is greens and whatever. So something a little more filling, perhaps? A corn salad with red peppers, scallions, black beans, cheese? A barley salad with carrots, red onion and cashews?

        I wouldn't assume you'll have access to the grill, but if you're thinking of a hot side, either call ahead and check on reheating in the kitchen or use a thermal carrier to transport. Depending on what meat she is grilling, if you don't want to do beans, perhaps some sort of potato-veggie casserole, or even Mac and cheese if she's doing ribs.

        1. Well, I'm doing cole slaw, potato salad, macaroni salad and tortellini/antipasta/pesto salad for our small group. All can (actually should) be made the day before and come together quickly. Plus that's what I think of when I think big American holidays!

          Oh and I'm making baked beans too, per hubby's request.

          4 Replies
          1. re: coll

            Yes, there is nothing wrong with the old "standards," especially on Memorial Day, which essentially kicks-off the summer grilling/barbecue season. Maybe by Labor Day people are tired of the standards and want some variety, but I don't think that's true now.

            1. re: masha

              I'm with you on this. Right now I just want my old favorite summer dishes. Bring on the potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, pasta salads and grilled corn on the cob!

              1. re: hheath9h

                No, you have to push it and come up with something way more creative. Corn on the cob can be done with a butter lime epazote. Come on.

                1. re: rudeboy

                  Just now got back to this thread. Sorry if my response sounded "rude." I meant it more to be supportive. Like " Come on - You can do it!

          2. Make-Ahead Thai Pasta Salad (has peanut butter in the sauce, so anyone allergic would need to avoid).

            Make-Ahead Thai Pasta Salad

            Serving Size : 6-8

            8 oz spaghetti, uncooked -- broken in 3" pieces
            4 cups assorted chopped vegetables -- such as red bell pepper, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and broccoli
            3 green onions -- sliced

            1/2 cup peanut butter
            1/4 cup soy sauce
            1/4 cup rice vinegar
            2 Tablespoons sesame oil
            4 teaspoons brown sugar -- packed
            1-1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger root -- grated
            2 Tablespoons hot water -- or more as needed
            2 cloves garlic -- minced
            1/2 tsp chili paste or hot sauce (sriracha) -- up to 1 tsp.
            1/3 cup cilantro -- chopped (or 1T. dry) (I OMIT, because I despise cilantro but you could use some chopped parsley)

            Cook and drain the pasta. Rinse well with cold water. Once cooled and fully drained, combine the pasta, veggies and green onion.

            Carefully whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the pasta and veggies, toss well to coat.

            Chill for up to 24 hours before serving.

            - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

            NOTES : LLW Notes: This recipe has the dressing ingredients doubled, as the original one didn't seem to have enough to fully coat the pasta and veggies (quantities already adjusted to double amounts in the recipe above so don't do it again!).

            Oh - and if it seems a bit "solidified" when you take it out of the fridge, you can add a bit of very hot water to it after it's been sitting out for about 15 minutes, and toss it again. The hot water will help loosen the chilled dressing. :-)

            12 Replies
            1. re: LindaWhit

              This looks delicious, Linda. I think I know what's for dinner tonight (with a few shrimp on top).

              1. re: kcshigekawa

                It is pretty good, kcshigekawa. You can make it as spicy or not as you like, and all sorts of veggies can go in - pretty much anything that holds its shape well. I've blanched carrot pennies as well and tossed them in.

                Sauce can be thinned very easily as well. I haven't made it in a thinner format to see if that prevents the sticking from chilling in the fridge.

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    No, not with veggies like sugar snap peas, the mushrooms and red bell pepper. I've done so with the broccoli and carrots - very quickly, as I usually cut them into small florets and thin enough carrot pennies so they don't need a lot of blanching.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      This sounds amazing, I was thinking the brocc should be blanched. I see this at mondays BBQ!

                      1. re: foodieX2

                        I have done it without blanching the broccoli - made sure the florets were small enough or halved/quartered, and thin-sliced the carrot pennies, and it seemed to go over well!

              2. re: LindaWhit

                I just printed your recipe and can't wait to try it! I have everything except the peanut butter, so I'll pick that up tonight.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Could be made with orzo also. It does sound good, El.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    I made this over the weekend and it was wonderful! I used broccoli, carrots, edamame & orange bell pepper. I tossed the raw veggies & dressing with the warm pasta and the dressing really seemed to be absorbed better.

                    1. re: Barbara76137

                      I'm glad you liked it, Barbara!

                      BTW, it's not my creation - I got it in a recipe swap from someone I don't know - and she got it from a magazine she had read.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Sounds very colorful. I bet that it presented very well.

                  2. This simple potato salad is one of my most requested recipes:
                    serves 8
                    3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes quartered (pealing is optional)
                    4 scallions or green onions sliced in rounds very thin (green parts only)
                    1/8 cup of grated pealed carrots
                    3 Tbsp mayonaise
                    1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
                    black pepper to taste

                    Boil 5 qts. water with 1/2 tsp of salt.
                    cook potatoes about 12 minutes until fork tender.
                    drain and cool.
                    mix all well ingredients in large bowll
                    chiil and serve cold

                    1. Wow. These both sound great! Thank you so much! I did talk to her and I can use the oven but would be so much nicer not to have to impose.

                      1. Bobby Flay's grilled caponata has become a favorite around the house and has been a hit with everyone we've served it to. Its also a nice alternative to starchy/ carby sides for those of us that don't indulge these days. Its nice to have lighter options that aren't just carrot sticks and dip:)


                        2 Replies
                          1. re: weezieduzzit

                            We also use caponata as a topping for pizza instead of tomato sauce. Just in case there are leftovers

                            1. I jut bring my propane rig and my wok and just cook whatever up outside. It's a blast, and one doesn't have to utilize the host's kitchen space.

                              1 Reply
                              1. bruschetta!

                                Always goes over big. I mix tomato's, basil. garlic, EVOO, and Balsamic in a disposable container.

                                Cut the Baggett in half when I get to the bbq - toast on the grill (like 1-2 minutes per side).

                                Rub the toast with a cut clove of garlic. Cut in to serving size, add tomatos, and viola it's done.

                                Though normally, I add blue cheese at this point and return to the grill for 30 seconds (on foil) to melt partially.

                                You might also think about Guac. Hummus etc.

                                have fun.

                                1. Another thought, for something easy, is to drain and rinse a few cans of cannellini beans, simmer in BTB ham base (starting cold), and add hot paprika, a small amt of prepared mustard, and a good dose of cumin. Correct the salt. If possible, heat on the fire uncovered and watch the liquid. This is what I do in a pinch, and people love it. Kinda BBQ, and I know you were shying away from beans, but it works.

                                  1. fruit salad - I really like it, but it's such a pain to make and too expensive to buy :)

                                    1. Black Bean Salad: Cooked black (Cuban, turtle) beans, diced sweet red pepper, sliced green onions, diced Roma tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and parsley. Make it 24 hours before you want it, to let flavors blend.

                                      1. Water melon salad with feta cheese and blueberries

                                        green bean salad with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese, dress with oil and balsamic vinegar

                                        1. A little early in the year, but:


                                          People really like it, and it can sit around. Although, if you're going to a farm may be kind of stupid.

                                          Otherwise, smoked trout salad in cucumber cups. A little fussy to make, maybe, but popular.

                                          1. Good ideas on this thread.
                                            Goodhealthgourmet’s black bean dip is always a big hit. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/588175
                                            I avoid bringing anything that needs cooking…nothing like heating up someone’s kitchen in warm weather.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: EM23

                                              And we all know that black bean dip is awesome!

                                              1. re: ChrisKC

                                                I have been wanting to try this!

                                                1. re: hheath9h

                                                  It's the most popular dip I make!

                                            2. macaroni and cheese? potato salad? cole slaw? (Bobby Flay's Lemony Fennel cole slaw recipe is outstanding even thought I omit the fennel) antipasto platter?

                                              1. A veggie heavy pasta salad with olives, marinated artichoke hearts, and vinegrette.

                                                Interesting crudite and dip- blanched asparagus, snap peas, jicama, and a green goddess dip.

                                                7 layer dip is really easy and always a hit, be sure to bribg sturdy tortilla chips.

                                                If its a spanish theme for drinks you could do calimocho- half cheap red wine and half real coke, very cold with lots of ice- its surprisingly good!

                                                1. If you have access to a grill once you arrive, I like an easy fake-o version of street corn. Rub with a mixture mayonnaise, lime, and Srirracha and grill.

                                                  I also like a slaw with jicama mixed in with Q.

                                                  1. these are a huge hit at my BBQ's, great hot, cold or room temp


                                                      1. re: RelishPDX

                                                        This goes really well with a lot of BBQ type sides like corn and beans, and served cold makes a nice contrast to hot dishes.

                                                      2. you can always make up a big bowl of guac and bring along bags of interesting chips - either flavored with interesting flavors or interesting veggie chips.

                                                          1. Sometimes in summer I'll dust off the New Year's black-eyed pea dip recipe.

                                                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                Ina Garten's Guacamole Salad! This is always a hit whenever I take to parties. The tortilla chip "scoops" are best with this.


                                                                1. re: chloebell

                                                                  I wanted to mention this but I feel like I always do! I made it again last weekend for a graduation party and there wasn't a bit left. I dice everything smaller to make more of a dip, and serve with tortilla chips. I happened to have some extra fresh grilled corn that I added to the last batch I made.

                                                                2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                  i know this thread was about memorial day, but for future bbq/grill-out conundrums i make skillet cornbread! bring butter and honey. sometimes i do hatch chile corn bread, or cheddar cornbread, or bacon cornbread once but it was kind of greasy. but it's very easy, simple to bring different butters, spreads, toppings, jam etc. and cheap and easy. a spanish omelet with grill-inspired flavoring could be good too - serves well warm or room temp, kind of a neat riff on potato salad.

                                                                3. not sure why you are hating on deviled eggs. :) they are a go-to for me for cook-outs and parties and they get inhaled. no matter how many dozens i make, it's never enough, lol. i use a hand mixer to whip the yolk mixture and it comes out super fluffy.

                                                                  my last 2 versions: i made tea eggs, then used soy sauce, hot sauce and sesame oil in the yolk mix. topped with tobiko. time before that used bacon fat in addition to the mayo, added bourbon and chopped bacon to the mix.

                                                                  (if i am bringing them elsewhere, i put the yolk mix in a ziploc baggie, then snip off the end to use like a pastry bag at the destination.)

                                                                  >>cucumbers, snap peas, mint, feta, with loads of lemon juice, lemon zest and good olive oil.

                                                                  >>carrot and zucchini slaw

                                                                  >>platter of assorted roasted or pickled veggies

                                                                  >>roasted asparagus wrapped in thin-sliced black forest ham

                                                                  >>fennel slaw (but fennel can be divisive. personally, i love it)

                                                                  >>make "noodles" out of zucchini or summer squash and finish like you would any pasta salad. this lends well to asian flavors too and doesn't turn to mush like pasta does once dressed.

                                                                  >>if you're ambitious, bastilla can be made ahead, cut into small servings and is great "room temp"

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    I *love* deviled eggs. Great ideas here.

                                                                    I also like lettuce wraps (cold). They're easy to pick up and eat if you don't overstuff them, and the crunch is a nice, cool counterpoint to the BBQ stuff. The filling possibilities/seasonings are endless, too.

                                                                  2. I like doing a blue cheese\bacon potato salad. Google Bobby Flay and Spanish potato salad. His is also another nice one that gets nice raves when I make it.

                                                                    1. Here is what I am taking.

                                                                      Confetti Rice and Bean Salad
                                                                      YIELD: SERVES 6

                                                                      Note: I used a wild rice/brown rice blend for my salad, but Basmati rice is delicious, also. Whatever rice you decide to use, cook it according to package directions and use it in the recipe – you should be good to go!


                                                                      3 cups cooked rice, cooled to room temperature (see note)
                                                                      1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
                                                                      1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
                                                                      1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed (or same amount fresh corn kernels)
                                                                      4 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
                                                                      1 red pepper, seeded, cored and diced
                                                                      1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
                                                                      1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
                                                                      1/4 cup red wine vinegar
                                                                      1 tablespoon sugar
                                                                      1 garlic clove, minced
                                                                      1 teaspoon salt
                                                                      1 teaspoon ground cumin
                                                                      1 teaspoon chili powder
                                                                      1/4 teaspoon black pepper

                                                                      In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients and toss.
                                                                      In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss to coat. Chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving to let the flavors blend.

                                                                      1. We've been eating a lot of farro salad lately. Just trying to keep up with *food trends* don't you know. :-)

                                                                        The other item that always goes over well is Gado Gado Siram. . . a sort of Indonesian composed salad. Take assorted colorful veg, including some fresh and some blanched and chilled, arrange on a platter and pour delicious peanut-based dressing over top (can substitute cashews). Serve with crunchy fried shallots sprinkled over. It's a super flexible recipe and can be made vegan, or add eggs, fish, grilled chicken, etc. Here is a sample recipe and instructions: http://rasamalaysia.com/gado-gado-rec...

                                                                        Regarding deviled eggs . . . those are always gobbled up in my experience. When I have to transport them, I cut them this way and transport in egg cartons (makes good presentation and they don't slide around the serving tray during transport):

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                          Love the idea of using the egg carton to transport deviled eggs! What kind of leaves are those in the photo? When you say "cut this way" - what way *is* that?

                                                                          1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                            That's actually not my photo (just an example), but they look like baby spinach leaves to me. Also, I cut the top off the eggs (instead of cutting in half the long way) because I find that the eggs fit into the carton much better for transport. If you cut a small slice of the bottom, the eggs won't wobble during transportation and service. I've attached another exemplar, hope this helps!

                                                                              1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                MrsPatmore, if I served deviled eggs "one up" per serving vs. split in half and filled I'd be making 4 or 5 dozen devilled eggs every holiday.

                                                                                Ugh. LOLZ.
                                                                                2 dozen is enough work.

                                                                                Aside form the egg carton and Tupperware style "deviled egg transporters", I use a std big Glad contianer for half cut and filled deviled egss but have found that using a wet paper towel (or towels) keeps the egss from sliding, especially if the eggs are nestled tightly. The egg whites are slick and the plastic is slick, but the wet paper towel acts like a yoga mat and cuts the coefficient of friction to nil.

                                                                                BTDT for years. I love the dedicated egg carriers , but they are spacially inefficient. Wet paper towel and packed tight and you can move a lot of eggs efficiently. Still gotta hold 'em flat, just like any carrier. :-)

                                                                                1. re: jjjrfoodie

                                                                                  You have many valid points . . . in my house, no matter *how many* deviled eggs are made, it seems there are never enough. So I make 1-2 dozen, and leave it at that! You snooze, you lose. LOL Also a convenient way to transport deviled eggs when you do NOT care what they look like: cut them in half the usual way, add the filling, and put the sides back together! Not the most glamorous presentation, but it works!

                                                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                    There are special tupperware dishes for half-clicked deviled eggs. Not talking about the ceramic trays. Some of these have swappable lids. Not glamorous, but as you say, people don't really care because, hey, there's some deviled eggs. I don't have on, but here are some examples on Amazon:


                                                                          2. An Asian Slaw is interesting and goes really well with grilled meats

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: hheath9h

                                                                                much prefer it to mayonnaise-based slaw. :)

                                                                              2. re: hal2010

                                                                                I just mentioned this on another thread but this Asian Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing is really delicious.


                                                                              3. I helped host a big BBQ this weekend. These were our sides:
                                                                                tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa

                                                                                grilled corn on the cob

                                                                                Basic fresh salad (romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, scallions in a light lemon dressing)

                                                                                Pasta salad with shell pasta, corn, black beans, diced tomato, diced red, yellow and orange pepper, parsley, dressed with a creamy salsa dressing - this was the runaway hit of the night and was polished off completely!

                                                                                Baby spinach salad with mango, blackberries, pine nuts, red onion and a balsamic dressing

                                                                                For mains, we had all the classics like burgers and hot dogs, plus marinated chicken skewers that were a huge, huge hit.