16 Quick, Healthy Sides for Perfect Summer Picnics & BBQs
It's always the sides that make the picnic, cookout, or barbeque! So, we picked out some of our favorite summer sides. These easy, healthy side dishes pair perfectly with main-dish picnic recipes like roasted salmon and grilled chicken breasts, and they're great options for the vegetarians in your crowd.
Kate's Grilled Corn Salad
Fresh corn pairs up with chopped tomato, orange bell peppers, cucumber, cilantro, and cubes of Monterey Jack cheese. A touch of balsamic vinegar gives it a bright blast of flavor. K8norris calls it, "A fresh, colorful grilled corn salad that tastes wonderful and is very healthy. It's the perfect side dish for a barbeque or Mexican dinner."
Refreshing Watermelon Salad
In this refreshing summer salad, juicy watermelon joins with cubes of fresh cucumber, sliced red onions, cilantro, and crumbled feta cheese. "A surprising yet delicious combination of ingredients that can be had as a starter salad, healthy snack, or a light meal," says CHICA3578.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
This light and refreshing cold pasta salad features orzo, cherry tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, olives, Asiago cheese and a snappy dressing with garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. "It's loaded with the flavors of the Mediterranean, and pairs well with grilled proteins, such as fish, pork, chicken or steak," says Kim's Cooking Now. "If you make this in advance, reserve a bit of the dressing to add right before serving, as the pasta has a tendency to soak up the dressing as it sits over time."
Almost Fat-Free Green Onion Potato Salad
Here's a tremendous nearly no-fat alternative to regular potato salad. Rich, non-fat Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise creates a creamy potato salad that's almost totally fat-free. Toss the taters with the flavorful green onion, garlic, and olive oil mixture, along with seasonings, Greek yogurt, and a touch of mustard.
Healthy Warm Farro Salad
Farro combines with chopped kale and feta cheese, all brightened with an olive oil and garlic dressing. Enjoy this quick and delicious salad warm or cold. "It is great as a packed lunch, too," says Cris.
Caribbean Sweet Potato Salad
Corn combines with russet and sweet potatoes, chopped cucumbers, red onions, and finely chopped peanuts. "Light and cool, it's perfect for a barbeque or picnic when you don't want to deal with the mayonnaise of regular potato salad," says PEMBERLEY.
Mediterranean Bean Salad
"This is an easy, healthy salad that is a great side dish to BBQ chicken, beef or fish," says Sourdough girl. "It can also be easily adapted to a Tex Mex-style salad by changing the lemon to lime, parsley to cilantro, and adding ground cumin and/or chili powder!" Naples34102 adds, "Fresh and flavorful, and I love the light, refreshing dressing."
Savory Spanish Potato Salad
This healthy salad combines red potatoes with red bell peppers, pimento-stuffed green olives, and a tangy red wine vinegar-based dressing. "This is just the kind of potato salad that we love," says mauigirl. "No heavy dressing....just fresh and light dressing with bright flavors."
Honey Lime Fruit Salad
"This salad is so refreshing and yummy," says Tryna. "Seasonal fruit with a touch of lime and honey makes it elegant too!" SweetieV raves, "A great fruit salad! Do NOT skimp on the pine nuts! They have a unique flavor and crunch that makes this recipe."
Mediterranean Potato Salad
"A nice change from traditional potato salad," says hockeymom. "It's very light and goes over great at potlucks!" Bell peppers, potatoes, and cucumber combine with feta cheese and wedges of pita bread. It's all dressed up with lemon juice and Italian-style salad dressing.
Black Bean, Corn, and Quinoa Salad
"Tangy and zippy," says Buckwheat Queen. "I added some cayenne pepper and used precooked tri-colored quinoa. Can't get any easier than that! Next time, I'll add an avocado."
Italian Potato Salad
This simple no-mayo potato salad does it deliciously with an olive oil, white wine vinegar, and minced garlic dressing. "My mother made a version of this for every summer occasion," says carol. "The family demanded it!"
Potato and Mustard Greens Salad
If mustard is so good in potato salad, why not mustardy mustard greens? That was Chef John's question. And this recipe was his delicious answer. Oh yes, the combo completely works. This potato salad with greens is delicious as a side dish for basically any food you can toss on the grill.
Alyson's Broccoli Salad
"Confirmed broccoli haters have changed their minds after tasting this salad. It is great for potlucks or buffet meals. Make a day or so before you wish to serve to meld the ingredients. I have used sugar substitutes for the white sugar and also used nonfat or low-fat mayonnaise and it still tastes great!" — JJOHN32
Lemon Pea Salad
"Sometimes simple is best, and that is the case here. So very simple to make, the uncooked peas pop in your mouth, and it's loaded with fresh flavor." — lutzflcat
Adrienne's Cucumber Salad
"Cool, delicious cucumber salad. For a pretty salad, peel only half of each cucumber, leaving strips of skin on each." — JSCHMAND