Another BBQ question
June 12, 2009 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Kind of a last minute request: I'm doing a bbq at my place tomorrow for my birthday, and I'm kind of stumped as to side dishes.

I read about the bbq in the park question (and even commented in it), but I made potato salad at the last bbq, and it turns out these folks aren't much into potato salad (and, personally, I hate the stuff). I'm making burgers and chicken fajitas tomorrow. I'm trying to think of some cold sides to go with the grilled stuff.

Issues: I've got a 13" grill, so I can't do much on the grill aside from the burgers, the chicken, and the peppers/onions/mushrooms to go with them.

Corn would be nice, but here in Japan, it's freaking expensive. Does anyone have some suggestions for a decent side? I'll have chips and dip, some celery, things like that. Something salady would be nice, but a bit less normal would be good, too.

Oh, and, yeah, the bbq is tomorrow, so this is something I'd have to be able to throw together in the morning. As always, thanks everyone.
posted by Ghidorah to Food & Drink (45 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
My standby is greek salad (cucumber, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, red and green peppers, oregano and red wine vinegar) but that might be a tall order in Japan.

You could go for a cucumber salad instead, or a coleslaw.
posted by furtive at 7:05 AM on June 12, 2009

Fruit salad? Pasta salad?
posted by Lucinda at 7:05 AM on June 12, 2009

Cole Slaw?

Zucchini and onions cut up into quarter chucks topped with butter/salt/pepper/whatever else and wasted in foil works too?


Fruit salad

Sushi? You are in Japan.
Then again if I was in Japan that would be all I would eat......
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:07 AM on June 12, 2009

Wrapped not wasted
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:08 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is delicious-- don't know how expensive these ingredients are in Japan.
posted by availablelight at 7:08 AM on June 12, 2009

Macaroni salad works well with bbq.
posted by tryniti at 7:09 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Take potatoes wrap each one in foil with a pat of butter. Throw them directly in the coals.

Not sure if they have the crappy-type ramen in Japan (like Top Ramen), but Ramen coleslaw is really tasty.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:12 AM on June 12, 2009

My absolute favourite salad:

1 tin black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin corn (is tinned corn expensive in Japan, too?)
1 red pepper, chopped small
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
salt and pepper to taste.

Toss, and serve!
posted by LN at 7:13 AM on June 12, 2009 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas, keep them coming, please!
posted by Ghidorah at 7:14 AM on June 12, 2009

If you can get eggplant and onions, toss them in oil and season (i just use salt and pepper), then wrap in foil and grill or roast in a grill wok or similar.
posted by mkb at 7:17 AM on June 12, 2009

Baked beans!
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:21 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Typically when I barbeque I also include vegetable skewers with a bit of teriyaki glaze on them. The teriyaki should be easy enough to find, as well as some bamboo skewers. As far as vegetables you can go nuts, but I typically use grape tomatoes, pineapple chunks, whole mushrooms, onions (cut into squares), and bell peppers (also cut into squares). To make the teriyaki work right you can't get the marinade. It's too liquid and just falls right off. You need the viscous stuff.

These things are great because it doesn't require any extra clean-up and they cook much faster than the rest of the meal so you can get something hot off to your guests fast!
posted by scrutiny at 7:24 AM on June 12, 2009

1. Beetroot, walnut, Goats Cheese and Rocket salad?

2. Mixed tomato 'Salsa'
I often just make up a small dish of a tomoato Salsa type thing
- a range of different tomatoes if you can get them chopped as small as possible mixed with finely chopped spanish (red) onion squeeze in some Lemon juice or Lime juice and half a teaspoon of raw sugar. soem fresh cracked pepper

or add chopped Chilli for kick

3. Lentil Salad - Rinse a can of lentils add some chopped tomato, cucumber, grated Carrot, Grated raw Beetroot etc.. (random salad stuff) season with a mix of Olive oil and Balasamic Vinegar. surprisingly good and takes about 5 mins to prepare.
posted by mary8nne at 7:24 AM on June 12, 2009

I know you said cold, but I love homemade mac and cheese as a side dish for grilling, and it doesn't get any easier to make than that.
posted by Silvertree at 7:25 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ack, I missed the cold part of the request. Sorry about that. In that case I'd try either a waldorf salad or maybe a lime chicken avocado salad . The chicken can be warm from the grill or cold.
posted by scrutiny at 7:30 AM on June 12, 2009

Hey LN, I just learned about that salad except my ingredients are:

1 tin black beans, drained
1 tin corn
1 pkg edamame, shelled
handful of sun-dried tomatoes, cut into pieces

douse with olive oil and red wine vinegar

Love it.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:32 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

1. I used to hate coleslaw until I tried some that didn't have mayo in it:

Chop up a mix of red and white cabbage, about a half a head each.
Chop up a half an onion
Chop up a pepper
Chop up whatever other veggies you like

Mix up the all the cabbage and veggies in a bowl.

In a saucepan, boil 2 cups of vinegar with about a cup of sugar, a half cup of oil, and a teaspoon or two of celery seed for 2-3 minutes. Check the proportions to your taste, I like to use a bit less sugar and more celery seed.

Pour the vinegar mix over the veggies, cover the bowl, and let stand for an hour. Then mix everything and refrigerate for a couple of hours before the party.

2. Can you get avocados? If you're going to have fajitas then guacamole would be nice. Just smash up a couple of avocados with lemon or lime juice (fresh is much better) and salt and pepper to taste. I use a whole lemon for every two large avocados. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
posted by txvtchick at 7:39 AM on June 12, 2009

Hummus or white bean dip. Different, easy, yummy.
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:42 AM on June 12, 2009

I just tried this Japanese-style lemon honey mustard pickle recipe and it is amazingly delicious and incredibly simple to throw together. You can use whatever vegetables you want, too!
posted by mayhap at 7:43 AM on June 12, 2009

Best answer: This is our go-to cold/room temp summer salad recipe. It is wonderful and easier than the number of ingredients implies. I'm sure you could tweak it easily to accommodate what is available locally.

Adapted from Tyler Florence.

1 lb. mixed summer beans (sugar snaps, green beans, wax beans, etc.)

1 1/2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnut or pecan pieces
handful of fresh, chopped parsley
1 tbsp. grainy dijon mustard
1 tbsp. hot water
1/2 tsp. sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

Trim beans and cook briefly in boiling water for 3-5 minutes (keep them crisp). Drain and plunge in ice water to stop cooking. Drain.

In a mixing bowl, toss beans with shallots, nuts and parsley.

In a jar, combine remaining ingredients and shake to emulsify. Pour over salad just before serving.
posted by pianoboy at 7:44 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

corn on the cob - cooked in its husk, right on the grill
posted by Flood at 7:50 AM on June 12, 2009

Here's a fruit salad I intend to try this weekend. Full instructions are on the linked blog, but here's the list of ingredients:

1 pt strawberries, sliced
1 pt blueberries
1 mango, peeled and cubed
1 peach, peeled and cubed
1/8 cup simple syrup (see instructions)
1/4 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/8 tsp almond extract

Warning: With mango and mint and almond extract, this is definitely not your mother's fruit salad!
posted by philotes at 7:56 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

This recipe would be refreshing and memorable: Southwestern coleslaw. I'd make the dressing in the morning, but not toss it on until guests arrive. It's a light vinegary dressing, not a heavy potato-salad mayo glob.
posted by fontophilic at 7:56 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't necessarily consider this a side... and it's not even a cold side... but I personally like to eat my BBQ with rice... and since you're in Japan...
posted by simplethings at 7:59 AM on June 12, 2009

One of my favorites is a cold pea salad. Blanch one bag (16 oz ish) of frozen peas, toss with 1 chopped up orange, a bit of slivered red onion, a crumbled hunk of feta cheese, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Super easy, super delicious.

Also, potato salad (did I somehow miss that above? it seems so obvious to me...). There's a huge number of variants out there, but really, boiled potatoes, mayo, mustard, chopped celery and onion makes for a good start. I love potato salad with cornichons and smoked paprika, or german potato salad (nix the mayo and mustard, add vinegar and bacon).
posted by amelioration at 8:00 AM on June 12, 2009

If you've got a small grill I'd be careful about putting potatoes and other vegetables wrapped in foil on your coals. They'll take a lot of the heat away from the things that are cooking on top of the grill.

How about some nachos with grated cheese melted on top (although I'd imagine cheese to also be quite expensive in Japan). Along with a couple of dips this is usually very popular and can be served cold.

A pasta salad, as mentioned above, is another alternate source of carbs for a side dish.

Out of interest, are you making the burgers yourself?
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 8:01 AM on June 12, 2009

This corn souffle was a big hit at our last bbq. Don't know how expensive the ingredients would be, but it takes no time at all to make.
posted by asras at 8:11 AM on June 12, 2009

This is a great salad that is always a hit. As a bonus, it makes for a nice presentation. Chop one head broccoli and 1 bunch green onions, mix with a cup of raisins and about ¾ cup roasted unsalted peanuts. Add black pepper to taste. Add a generous amount of ranch dressing and mix well. The good thing about this is it travels well; you don’t have to mix in the ranch dressing until right before you serve it. Not sure if you can get ranch dressing in Japan, but just about any creamy dressing would probably work. I’ve also added pasta and extra vegetables to this salad; I’ve substituted cashews for the peanuts. It’s very flexible.
posted by yawper at 8:17 AM on June 12, 2009

Response by poster: Gomez_i_t_S, yeah, the burgers are going to be made tomorrow. Ground beef mixed with minced onions, and tons of shredded fresh basil, rosemary, garlic and oregano.

Living close to Costco in Japan makes a lot of things cheaper than you'd imagine, so the cheese nachos are a possibility (we just went tonight to pick up the meat and buns). Thanks again for all the answers. I'll have a lot of thinking to do in the morning before I run to the store!
posted by Ghidorah at 8:54 AM on June 12, 2009

Here's yet another variation on LN's recipe. I like the flavor of frozen corn more than canned; can you get a bag of frozen corn in Japan easily?

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a
small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are well mixed.
In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes,
green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing, and pour it over the
salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing, and
posted by JenMarie at 9:02 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sliced polenta with garlic butter
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:02 AM on June 12, 2009

Tuscan bread salad, or Panzanella, is delicious and easy to make. It's toasted garlicky bread chunks mixed with chunks of tomato, soft mild cheese, basil leaves, and crunchy slices of endive or cucumber. It's a great crowd-pleaser and much lighter than potato salad.

Stale crusty bread: Cut in half, toast til the cut side is hard. Rub that side with a raw garlic clove, then cut the bread into 1-inch chunks and toast on a cookie sheet until crispy. Reserve.
Cut tomatoes into bite-size chunks.
Combine tomatoes in a big bowl with some olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, crushed garlic.
Add chopped vegetables: try endives (nice mild flavour & great crunch), cucumber, maybe olives
Add tons of basil leaves
Cut bocconcini cheese into bite-sizes, lightly salt them, then throw them in the bowl too.
The wet stuff in the bowl can sit for a day or so if need be.

To serve: throw in the toasted bread chunks and toss gently just before serving. Add bread chunks as needed, or they'll get soggy. You can keep the tomato mixture & the bread chunks separate in the fridge for days and keep combining them to eat. So yummy! People always bug me to make this for parties.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:20 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm going to give you two things you didn't ask for: a grill dish and a "potato" salad. I'll also type up a a salsa and guac recipe.


This dish is hands down the best BBQ dish I know of. Everyone I've made it for agrees.

2 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
4 birds eye chilies
1 tbs cumin seeds
half tbs coriander seeds
1 butternut squash, acorn squash, or similar

Put the butter, olive and salt in a large bowl.

Finely chop the chilies and add them to the bowl.

Grind spices and add to bowl.

Peel, then chop the squash into chunks.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the squash for just one minute. Remove with slotted spoon and drop them in the bowl of butter and oil (the heat will melt the butter).

Toss gently to coat chunks evenly in the spices and oils.

Grill on a barbecue turning occasionally. You'll want them to just start to blacken.

These are absolutely divine.


Jicama is aka a "mexican or south american potato". Not sure if you can this in Japan but if so, this dish, unlike traditional potato salad, is extremely light and is a fantastic cold side. No cooking involved, just chopping and mixing:

the dressing

2 tbs tahini
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs water
2 tsp fresh parsley
1/4 tsp nama shoyu (or Bragg's or soy sauce)
1/4 tsp agave nectar
pinch sea salt
pinch chili powder

Put everything in a blender and blend smooth. Should still be thick, though.

the salad

2 cups diced jicama
1/4 cup diced yellow pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
1 tbs minced fresh rosemary
2 tbs minced green olives
1/4 avocado, mashed
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients and store in a fridge until ready to serve.

Before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss until well combined.


Pineapple-Mango Salsa

2 cups finely diced pineapple
2 cups finely diced mango
1 cup finely diced red pepper
1/4 cup minced jalapeno
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
salt to taste

gently combine ingredients in a bowl

Mango Guacamole

7 avocados
2 tsp sea salt
2 cups chopped cilantro
3 seeded jalepenos, chopped
2 tbs lime juice
2 mangoes, finely chopped

Put all ingredients except mango in a food processor. Pulse until well combined but not too smooth. Remove to bowl and add mango. Stir.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:28 AM on June 12, 2009 [7 favorites]

Ooh, ooh, ooh, I have another one! A coleslaw. Once I found this recipe, there was no going back to mayo-dressing.

1/2 a head of cabbage, thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and shredded
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Combine. Delish!
posted by LN at 9:55 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Because I'm a doofus, one more.

1 avocado, peeled
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 ripe tomato (or a bunch of cherry tomatoes)
1 block feta cheese

Seed avocado and peppers, and cut all ingredients into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes (cut cherry tomatoes in half). Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!
posted by LN at 10:01 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Another awesome slaw, that I use on spicy tacos, is white cabbage tossed with tons of lime juice and chopped cilantro. It's more of a condiment, but so tasty. I don't know why the flavors work so well, but they do.
Somehow, red cabbage doesn't work as well, even though I always thought they were interchangeable.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:16 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

That's it. I'm favoriteing this question right now!~

I feel like I should add more. Here it goes:

Take a bag of frozen or 2 can of regular corn. Drained of course

2 cans of creamed corn.

1/2 a box of corn meal.

1/2 a jar/container of sour cream.

Salt and pepper if your into that thing.

It should look sort of stewish (not like a corn bread batter). Because then you will end up with corn bread and not a casserole.

Throw it in the oven on 375 until it's golden brown and delicious. 15-20 minutes?
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:22 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

quinoa and black bean salad
posted by sucre at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Asian slaw - lots of recipes on the web, choose the affordable ingredients. Slaw is quite forgiving.

Apple salad is easy, cheap, healthy and always popular
apples, cored and diced
rough diced celery
walnut pieces
cinammon, to taste
plain yogurt as dressing

Master cheddar is describing something likecorn pudding, which would be good. Cheap and easy, if you can get cornbread mix.

Mac-n-cheese is a classic bbq menu item.
posted by theora55 at 1:57 PM on June 12, 2009

1 cup red quinoa -- cook and chill the night before

mix day of with:
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded radish (any type)
finely chopped green onion, chives, or garlic scape
2 T olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

chill or serve at room temp.

This salad is very light and fresh served with BBQ.
posted by Malla at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2009

Easy marinated tomato slices. Slice into a tupperware container along with a green onion. Cover with oil and vinegar & salt&pepper, let sit overnight. Turn upside down once or twice to make sure all the slices get the flavour. Not a side, but a nice addition.
posted by x46 at 4:17 PM on June 12, 2009

the easiest sort-of-coleslaw ever:

red cabbage, shredded
dressing: yoghurt, some grainy mustard, some garlic (either fresh or granulated)
(I guess you could also do half yoghurt/half mayo for more fatty deliciousness)

I eat this just about every day.
posted by rhinny at 4:58 PM on June 12, 2009

The reason you don't like potato salad is that you haven't tried chipotle potato salad.

Very simple, get a can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce and use that to doctor your favorite usual potato salad (I do mine with Nayonaise veggie mayo and then it's vegan). Easy and the kind of thing you'll eat until you burst.

Here's one recipe which is much more complicated than my usual, but which gives the idea.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:26 AM on June 13, 2009

pico de gallo-- cilantro, onions, tomatoes... amazing, simple, delicious
posted by faintly macabre at 9:28 AM on June 13, 2009

I have no idea what sort of ingredients are available in Japan, but this Mango and Black Bean Salad is easy to put together and ridiculously refreshing and tasty. Another good direction for summer barbecue parties is to take a summer melon and toss it with a fresh-herb "vinaigrette" of sorts: honeydew is really good with fresh mint (and, if you like, grapes or cucumber), cantaloupe is tasty drizzled with fresh lemon juice, and Basil-Lime Fruit Salad-type stuff can be tasty too.

Asian Cucumber Salad is one of my favorite easy peasy summer standbys. Here's my recipe:

2 cups cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame seeds

In a large bowl, combine cucumbers with salt and mix well. Add sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil and mix well. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and mix. Let marinate for 20 minutes before serving.

The key to this "salad" is to let it stew for a good long time--in my opinion, it's best after a few hours, or even overnight. It will lose a lot of crunch, but the flavor once the cucumber drinks up all the sesame vinegar flavor is amazing.

If you happen to have ground beef around for grilling burgers anyway, you could try making meat-and-spice-stuffed cabbage wraps, or any variation on ground-meat-stuffed vegetables. I like Joyce Goldstein's take on this, but there are a million recipes out there.

And she is my go-to reference online for simple, refreshing summer fare. I'd check out her vegetable and salad sides.

And it's not the right season, but I will forever praise Ina Garten's Orzo with Roasted Vegetables. You could tweak the veggies involved, methinks, to make it more seasonal. It's great party fare because it's served room temperature, and you can make it ahead of time.
posted by ifjuly at 2:00 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

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