Trim and Terrific Summer Entertaining Recipes

Here’s an easy summer grill party plan from best selling author Holly Clegg, who’s famous for her quick, easy and healthy recipes.

Outdoor entertaining becomes a way of life on hot summer days. Whether you are celebrating a holiday, at the beach or just entertaining friends and family in your own backyard, throwing something on the barbecue pit is a great summer solution.
Barbecues are no longer limited to hamburgers and hot dogs. Smoky, seared entrées that include a variety of meat, seafood and chicken define today’s grilling cuisine. Everyone seems to have a distinct barbecue style made up of special techniques and secret marinades. The resulting main course is sure to stand out, but the true sizzle of summer barbecues come from the sides.

Summer gatherings should be casual and relaxing, to appeal to friends and family of all ages. Select simple summer sides that may be prepared ahead, keeping kitchen time to a minimum. To maximize flavor, take advantage of seasonal fruits and veggies. Fresh ingredients lend themselves to time-saving preparation and healthier choices. Capitalize on their great tastes to make the meals you serve as nutritious as they are delicious. Best of all, the vibrant colors of summer fruits and vegetables lend instant zing to your dishes.

Relying on traditional summer sides such as cole slaw does not mean serving the same-old stand by — not when you can give a classic a trendy twist. Pasta Coleslaw is a perfect summer creation combining pasta and cabbage with fresh tomatoes, green pepper, and green onions with a creamy light dressing. This dish becomes a hearty and colorful side chock full of veggies and taste.

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Another enticing salad option is a Paradise Couscous Salad. A couscous salad is a quickly prepared dish that provides a great arena to showcase fruits and veggies. Spinach, orange segments, peppers, onions and toasted pecans with a sensational apricot vinaigrette makes this a true summer sensation. Couscous is made from semolina and combined with all the summer veggies, it makes a light addition that will compliment any grilled entrée.

Salsas have joined the race with ketchup as the most popular condiment. The versatility and variety of salsas make them a perfect choice for summer sides. Serve as a dip with chips to tempt the palate of your guests or with grilled seafood or chicken to complete the main course. Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salsa is one of those no fuss recipes incorporating color, texture and a pinch of southwestern seasonings to tantalize your taste buds. Lime juice and lemon juice provide the final flash of flavor and this fabulous recipe will fit into your menu wherever you choose.

Of course, I had to include the ultimate ending to summer entertaining. A Burger Cake will steal the show and astound guests with being one of their favorite desserts ever. This conversation piece is made with a yellow cake mix for the bun, brownie layer representing the meat, and yellow whipped topping for mustard. Kiwi and strawberries stand in as pickles and tomatoes making this dessert the ultimate summer dessert. The kids and adults will fight for a piece.

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Summer is about fun and relaxation – relying on easy recipes means you won’t be cooped up in the kitchen while your family and friends socialize outside. The following Trim and Terrific sides are a summer vacation variation that will compliment any barbecue regardless of the grilled entrée.

The recipes can all be prepared ahead of time to serve when the grill turns off. They are from my latest book, Holly Clegg’s Trim and Terrific Home Entertaining the Easy Way: Fast and Delicious Recipes for Ever Occasion.

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