Recipes

7 Easy Summer Sides (With Appetizing Serveware Ideas for Each)

Creamy Cucumber Salad

The best summer cooking is fast, fresh, and easy, from the main course to the sides. We’ve gathered some of our favorite summer side dishes and paired them with beautiful serveware ideas for an irresistible presentation. You’ll find a mix of sides you can prep on the grill or in your kitchen.

1. Creamy Cucumber Salad

This is the ultimate refreshing summer salad, and so easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 4 cucumbers (halved, seeded, and thinly sliced)
  • ½ red onion (thinly sliced)
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsps. chopped fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Toss together and chill.

Serve it up:
The light greens and whites look especially crisp in a graceful metallic bowl. Look for a bowl with temperature retaining construction to keep the salad cool, even on a hot summer day.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

2. Tomato, Mozzarella, and Red Onion Salad

If it’s not already on your roster of quick sides, it’s time to add this super simple and satisfying salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 4 fresh ripe heirloom tomatoes (sliced into thin rounds)
  • 8 ounces fresh or packaged mozzarella (sliced into thin rounds)
  • ½ red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup whole fresh basil leaves
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Overlap and alternate the tomatoes, mozzarella, red onion, and basil in a circle or oval around your serving platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and season with salt and fresh pepper to taste.

Serve it up:
The vibrant colors in this summer salad pop against a stoneware serving platter in a white or off-white finish.

Bonus idea:
If you’re inspired, make reduced balsamic for drizzling instead. Simply combine 1 tsp. of honey with 2 cups of good quality balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Cook until the vinegar is reduced by about half, stirring often and keeping the mixture at a gentle simmer. Once it’s cooled, transfer to a glass storage container and keep in the fridge.

Guacamole

3. Guacamole

Serve traditionally with chips, or add a dollop of guacamole to whatever you’re eating, as a delicious condiment.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 ripe Hass avocados (pitted and scooped into a bowl)
  • 1 Roma tomato (seeded and chopped)
  • ½ red onion (chopped)
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ½ lime (juiced)
  • 1 jalapeño (seeded and minced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Using two spoons, cut up the avocado into chunks. Then mix in the remaining ingredients, mashing the avocados in the process. Mix for a short time if you prefer chunky guacamole, or mix until smooth.

Serve it up:
A melamine chip and dip dish with a Mexican-inspired design makes a festive presentation. Or, serve it in a small wood bowl to really make the beautiful green of the guacamole pop.

Roasted Broccoli

4. Roasted Broccoli

You’ll have to turn on the oven for this one, so it’s best for summer days that aren’t too hot. If you make extra, you can toss the broccoli into salads for a few days.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 bunches of broccoli (washed, dried well, and cut into small florets)
  • 2 to 3 tbsps. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread 1 tbsp. of oil across a rimmed baking sheet and add the broccoli florets. Toss the broccoli with the remaining 2 tbsps. of olive oil, using your hands to make sure each floret is lightly coated. Sprinkle the broccoli with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, tossing the broccoli about halfway through. The broccoli is ready when the tips of the florets are brown and crispy.

To change the flavor profile, sprinkle the dish with fresh parmesan cheese when it comes out of the oven. Or, squeeze a quarter of a lemon over the florets.

Serve it up:
A simple stoneware serving bowl in a light color shows off the deep greens and browns of this scrumptious broccoli.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

5. Grilled Corn on the Cob

Cook the corn in the husk for the easiest summer side.

Ingredients:

  • Corn
  • Vegetable oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat your grill to medium. Pull back the husks (keeping them attached to the corn) and remove the silk. Lightly rub a thin coating of oil over the cobs. Re-close the husks and cook the corn cobs over direct heat on the grill. Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally. When the corn is almost finished, pull the husk away on one side and turn that side down to get flavorful grill marks

Take off the grill and let cool for five minutes. Carefully pull back the husks and cut them off using kitchen shears. Set out with butter, salt, and a fresh pepper mill—simple seasoning lets the sweetness of summer corn shine.

Serve it up:
Pile the corn on a serving tray with handles for easy passing. Opt for a stainless steel tray or a bamboo tray with handles.

So Easy Greek Salad

6. “So Easy” Greek Salad

Greek salads are refreshing and versatile. They’re a meal with the addition of grilled chicken or firm tofu, seasoned with your favorite marinade or spice rub. And they’re all the better with ripe vegetables from your garden.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce (washed and chopped)
  • ½ red onion (thinly sliced)
  • ⅔ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 ½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes (washed and halved)
  • 1 garden or English cucumber (washed, halved lengthwise, and cut into half-moons)
  • 8 oz. block feta cheese (slice or crumble into large chunks)
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Put lettuce, red onion, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta in your serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and a few splashes of red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with dried oregano, salt, and pepper, and toss gently.

Serve it up:
This crisp salad calls for a traditional salad bowl with servers for tossing and dishing out.

Grilled Zucchini

7. Grilled Zucchini

This recipe will become your go-to summer vegetable side, especially if you grow zucchini in your summer garden.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium zucchini (washed and cut lengthwise in thin slices)
  • 3 to 4 tbsps. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

Directions:
Set the grill to medium. Gently toss the zucchini in olive oil until every slice is lightly coated all over. Season with salt and black pepper. Grill until the zucchini is slightly tender and both sides have grill marks. Remove to a serving platter and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Serve it up:
Grilled zucchini looks as light and delicious as it tastes served on a large recycled glass serving platter.

These recipes are so simple, once you’ve made them once or twice they’ll be a cinch—and you’ll prep them for last-minute dinners and big backyard barbecues.