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Fourth of July side dishes

gohomekiki/Wikimedia Commons

Coleslaw and baked beans fit right in with any barbecue meal.


Many people love to have picnics and barbecues as part of their Fourth of July celebrations. I am one of those people, even though I admit I usually miss out on getting to see fireworks displays, due to living in an area that makes it rather difficult.

One year I was in Niagara Falls, Ontario during July 4 and both sides of the Niagara River were setting off fantastic fireworks as far as you could see. That was really something.

Niagara Falls normally sets off fireworks anyway, but for the benefit of all the tourists from USA, they were extra special that night. But we are here to focus on food, not fireworks, so allow me to get on with the recipes for some delicious side dishes.

Happy Independence Day to all.

Black bean and jicama salad

If using canned beans, you won’t have to soak them overnight and can save time.

1 pound dried black beans or 2 cans

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon salt (I don’t use quite that much)

1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups finely diced, peeled jicama (about 3 pounds)

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 package (10-oz.) frozen whole corn, thawed

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

1. Sort beans in a colander, then soak them in a large saucepan overnight, using water to cover by 2 inches. Next day, drain the black beans and add 6 cups fresh water.

2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 40 to 60 minutes or until tender. Drain beans well.

3. In a very large bowl, whisk lime juice, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil. Add beans, jicama, red bell pepper, corn and cilantro. Toss to coat evenly and keep chilled until ready to serve. Makes about 11 cups of bean salad.

Crunchy pea salad

I like to add some chopped water chestnuts to this recipe.

8 slices bacon

1 package (10-oz.) frozen green peas, thawed and drained well

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped green onions

2/3 cup sour cream

1 cup chopped cashews (salted and roasted)

Salt (if needed at all) and pepper, to taste

1. Cook bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until evenly browned. Drain on paper towels, crumble and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine peas, celery, green onions and sour cream. Toss gently to mix.

3. Just before serving, stir in cashews and bacon. Season with salt and pepper. (Watch the salt, if using salted nuts.)

Pineapple slaw with creamy ginger-lime dressing

1/4 cup thick plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger root

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

2 cups shredded cabbage (green, red or Napa)

1/4 cup minced green onions

2 cups diced fresh pineapple

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1. In a small bowl, whisk yogurt, ginger, salt, pepper, lime juice, sugar and oil; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, toss cabbage, green onions, pineapple and almonds. Pour the yogurt mixture over the top and toss to combine, making sure all of the cabbage is coated. Cover and refrigerate to allow flavors to blend for at least 1 hour. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Slow cooker baked beans

Soak beans the night before cooking them.

1 pound dried navy beans (about 2 1/2 cups)

8 ounces thick-cut bacon slices (about 6 slices), diced small

1 medium yellow onion, diced small

2 1/2 cups water, plus more for soaking the beans

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup dark molasses

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Place the beans in a large bowl and pick through them, discarding any broken beans or stones. Cover the beans with at least 3 inches of cold water. Allow to soak uncovered at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain in a colander and reserve the bowl (no need to wash); set the bowl aside. Place the beans, bacon and onion in a slow cooker.

2. Whisk the remaining measured ingredients in the reserved bowl until combined. Pour into the slow cooker and stir until thoroughly combined. Cover and cook on either high or low heat until the beans are tender and the liquid thickens slightly (it will thicken more as it cools), about 6 hours. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

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