Side dishes you'll enjoy all summer

If you're like most Americans, you'll be celebrating Memorial Day by either throwing a cookout or (the less-stressful option) attending one in someone's backyard or local picnic shelter.

The holiday is the second most popular day for grilling in the U.S., after Fourth of July, with 62 percent of us firing up the grill to feed family and friends.

That said, there's probably a few of you who've waited until today to figure out what to serve along with the burgers, steak, hot dogs and/or barbecued chicken that is certain to be sizzling on top of the charcoal.

Not to worry.

We're coming to your rescue, with a pair of last-minute Memorial Day recipes that are sure to be crowd pleasers. Both are quick and easy and made with everyday ingredients -- but still look like (and taste) as if you actually planned ahead.

If you know what's going on the grill this Memorial Day but you're stumped about what side dishes to serve, we're coming to your rescue.

We offer two delicious recipes -- Root Beer Baked Beans and Michael Symon's Coleslaw -- that require minimal preparation and that your guests will love. They'd be great additions to any picnic or cookout.

Root Beer Baked Beans

Sweet, salty, robust -- and quick! This twist on the classic picnic dish takes only about a half-hour to prepare. (Although if you have time, you may want to cook it a little longer to give the beans a richer taste.) Root beer is the surprise ingredient in this spin on the campfire favorite.

  • 4 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

  • 3 1/2 cups chopped onions (about 3 large)

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 4 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained

  • 1 1/2 cups root beer

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook bacon in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Add onions to drippings in pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; stir for 1 minute.

Add beans, root beer, vinegar, molasses, mustard, tomato paste, chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix well. Stir in bacon; bring to a boil. Transfer to oven. Bake uncovered until liquid thickens, about 30 minutes.

Serves 8.

-- "The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appetit" by Adam Rapoport (Andrews McMeel, May 2013, $45)

Michael Symon's Coleslaw

"I prefer vinegar-based coleslaw like at Primanti's," my daughter informed me when I placed this sidedish on the table next to a plate of barbecued chicken. Oh, really? That didn't stop her from gobbling up this tangy slaw, which gets it zing from a dressing made with a combination of mustards, jalapeno and champagne vinegar.

My local grocer didn't have oval-shaped (milder tasting) Napa cabbage, so I substituted regular green cabbage. This isn't just a terrific and easy side -- it also tastes great on top of hot dogs, sausages and hamburgers.

  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded

  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion

  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced

  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon spicy mustard

  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Serves 8 to 10.

-- "Michael Symon's Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers" by Michael Symon (Clarkson Potter, 2012, $35)

Gretchen McKay:, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.


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