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I'm looking forward to this three-day weekend. Lots of barbecues. Anyone got some particularly great side dish ideas? I need one for Sunday.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2009; 6:38 PM ET
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Avocado and feta Salsa with homemade (whole wheat) pita chips. It's healthy, easy, and incredibly tasty.

Posted by: johnclevenger | July 2, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm partial to zucchini genovese. It's really easy, can be grilled and is served at room temperature, which makes it great cookout/gathering food.

Just boil some potatoes, then rice them and add in a beaten egg, some parmesan cheese, olive oil and pesto. Cut zucchini in half, then carve out the centers to make boats, then fill the zucchini halves with the potato mixture. Grill them for a bit, until the zucchini is nicely cooked, then either serve hot or let it cool to room temperature. You can even cut it into smaller pieces and serve as finger food.

Posted by: Fnor | July 2, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm a fan of Bobbia, a vegetable salad from Sicily, for such occasions. It's simple, not much work, healthy, and tasty. Strangely, I can't find an English language recipe for this. However, here's the German language recipe I use:

Ok, I'll try to translate that:
For 8 persons
1000 g potatoes
750 g Peppers, red, green and yellow
1000 g Tomatoes
500 g onions (the big ones)
0.2 l Olive oil
1 bunch of parsley
Salt and pepper

You start by cutting all vegetables into not too small pieces. Then put everything in a big pot, add salt (not to stingy, because of the potatoes), pepper and the oil. Let it cook at medium heat for 45 minutes, stir it every now and then. Take the vegetables out with a skimmer, and let the fluid concentrate for about ten minutes. Pour the fluid over the vegetables. Coat the salad with parsley. Serve warm.

I guess the scilians would serve it as a side dish to bracciola alla siciliana (marinated steaks), but it goes great with barbecue, too, of course.

Posted by: Gray62 | July 2, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

I've been working up a recipe for a roasted potato salad.

Cut potatoes into salad size pieces and coat with olive oil. Roast at 425 for until golden brown. Let them come to room temperature.

My latest idea is a sharp vinigrette(sp?) salad with red onion, gherkins, and another ingredient I can't remember as I write this. It's a work in progress; the first two versions were mayo based and excellent.

Posted by: humfry | July 3, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Grilled corn. Simple and delicious. Also, I like any food that has a built-in timer.

Strip all except the last layer or two of leaves from the corn husk. Stick on the grill, turning every couple of minutes, until you see the distinct outlines of corn kernels in the leaves. Slather with roasted garlic butter and consume some more. You do not have to bother de-silking. The silks will burn off during grilling.

Roasted garlic butter: 4-5 cloves of roasted garlic per stick of butter.

Variations: (1) squirt a lime quarter over the corn and sprinkle with queso fresco or feta. (2) chili cheese butter: 1/2 stick of room temperature butter with 1 chopped roasted Anaheim pepper and two tablespoons grated Romano (3) smoked paprika butter: 1 stick room temperature butter mixed with 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika, 1 garlic clove, 1 pinch each of salt and sugar.

Posted by: pj_camp | July 3, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

If you don't mind turning on the oven for a little while, roasted cauliflower salad is a knockout, especially if you are liberal with the olive oil. Here's my recipe:

Slice the cauliflower into bite-size pieces (about the size of an unshelled walnut). It is important to slice the vegetable so as to provide flat surfaces that will brown during the roasting. Toss with oil, sprinkle with salt, then arrange on a baking sheet. Roast in a 400 F (or hotter) oven until the cauliflower is tender and brown in places, turning once or twice so that each flat side touches the hot metal pan for some time. Set aside to cool while you make the dressing.

Roughly chop a small clove of garlic and place in a mortar along with some salt. Use the pestle to fully crush the garlic into a paste. Pour in some lemon juice, a bit of Dijon mustard, and stir to combine. Whisk in olive oil (at least a 1-to-1 ratio).

Combine the dressing, the cauliflower, some capers, and herbs (parsley and thyme are good choices). Dried chili flakes and lemon zest might also be good additions.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

If good local tomatoes are available already, a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, lightly blanched carrots, finely diced shallot, and lots of herbs (mint, basil, parsley).

"The Savory Way" by Deborah Madison has an interesting carrot dish that is based on an ancient Roman recipe. Since it is good at room temperature, it might be a good side dish. It's carrots braised with cumin, mint and vinegar (and optionally pounded anchovy to simulate ancient Rome's fermented fish paste).

Posted by: meander510 | July 3, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

DEVILED Eggs, including the super secret recipe: BBQ sauce!

You hard boil 'em, de-shell, cut 'em in half, and remove the yoke. Chop up the yokes very very finely, to a near-powder if possible.

Add a few tablespoons of Mayo and enough BBQ sauce to turn your egg/mayo mixture light orangey-pink. It's not very scientific, more geared to preference. Just remember, you can add, but you can't take away.

Add some black pepper, and then scoop about a tablespoon of egg mixture into each hard-boiled eggwhite half. Sprinkle some paprika for garnish on each egg.


Posted by: pbasso_khan | July 3, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

A variant of the above: remove the yoke and place the shells, yes, the shells in a blender. Add 2 tablespoons brandy and one fresh sheep kidney. Puree for several minutes. Place yolks and whites in an ice cube tray and stick a toothpick (or chopstick) in each tray. Remove from trays, dribble puree over, and serve popsicle style.

Posted by: truck1 | July 3, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse


1 cup bulgar
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely diced scallions
minced garlic clove or two
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
4 ripe plum tomatoes
Whole mint leaves for garnish

Put the bulgar in a bowl, pour in the water and let stand for 30 minutes. Pour out any excess water(use a sieve or a colander). Fluff with a fork. Add the other ingredients. Toss and stick it in the fridge for at least a 1/2 hour.

Posted by: Bloix | July 4, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

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