Summer is just around the corner and with it come hot sunny weekends and endless opportunities to enjoy a barbecue with your friends and family. Check out these five great barbecue sides that will make sure your barbecue's stand out against the competition.

Sweet & Sour Couscous Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

These sweet and sour couscous peppers look beautiful and taste heavenly, so have them ready anytime you want to impress your guests.

Ingredients

  • 4 bell peppers (any colour will do, but bear in mind that red and yellow varieties are sweeter)
  • 100g couscous
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 230g minced beef (or soy mince for a lighter / vegetarian-friendly alternative)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 30ml tomato paste
  • 50g raisins
  • 25ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 30ml red wine vinegar
  • 65g Asiago cheese, grated (you may substitute it with another semi-hard cow's milk cheese like Parmesan or Romano, or use nutritional yeast flakes for a vegan and lactose-free version)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 428°F. In the meantime, put the diced carrots, shallot, and celery in a blender and pulse them until they are chopped into medium-sized cubes.

Take 15ml of olive oil and heat in a pan or skillet. Add the vegetables you have just chopped in the blender and cook them over medium heat until they are tender (8 to 10 minutes).

Make a paste using 20ml of the tomato paste and the ground beef and add it to the vegetables, cooking it for 4 minutes or until the meat has browned. You can then add the raisins, salt, 15ml of vinegar, and 120ml of warm water to the mix, stirring it until you get a sauce-like consistency. Set aside. Add the couscous to the mix. Note: if using soy mince, you will need to re-hydrate it by soaking it into warm water for about 10 minutes.

Prepare the peppers by removing the top and deseeding, then sprinkle the remaining olive oil over them and cook them in a microwave for 10 minutes. Stuff each pepper with the vegetable & couscous mix and top with a little grated cheese.

Whisk the remaining vinegar and tomato paste, along with 180ml of warm water, and pour this mixture over a baking dish. Cover the peppers with aluminium foil and place them on the baking dish and into the oven, cooking them for 25 minutes.

Corn & Tomato Salad

Salad

Get this flavorful and healthy salad ready in minutes. It's perfect for a summer barbecue or for any alfresco meal.

Ingredients

  • 6 ears corn (1 per person), husked
  • 300g cherry or plum tomatoes, cut in half
  • 225g mozzarella cheese, cut into squares
  • A small bunch of spring onions, sliced
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 45ml white wine vinegar
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Prepare the salad dressing by mixing the vinegar, salt, and pepper, adding the olive oil gradually until you achieve a smooth consistency.

Shear the corn kernels off the ears, then place them in a large bowl with the onions, cherry tomatoes, and cheese.

Coat the salad with the dressing you just prepared ensuring that it is evenly distributed.

Set aside for a minimum of 15 minutes and top it up with basil before serving.

Tangy Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

Give an interesting twist to regular coleslaw by replacing the mayonnaise with a zesty and slightly sweet red cabbage slaw. It's easy on the budget and easy to digest, so what more could you ask for?

Ingredients

  • ½ red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 100g golden raisins
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 30ml grapeseed or olive oil
  • 60ml lime or lemon juice
  • 120ml orange juice
  • 60ml red wine vinegar
  • 45ml whole grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A handful of chopped cilantro leaves

Preparation

Soak the raisins in warm water for about 10 minutes or until they double in volume. Drain them and set aside.

Prepare the salad dressing by whisking together the lime/lemon and orange juice, olive or grapeseed oil, half of the sugar, salt, and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, mustard, and remaining sugar and whisk thoroughly. Add this to the salad dressing.

Toss the cabbage, carrots, and raisins together and coat well with the dressing. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes and add the cilantro before serving.

Guacamole

Guacamole

Guacamole is a classic side dish and of the most popular summer dips. Here's an easy recipe and some interesting variations.

Ingredients

  • 6 avocados (make sure they are ripe), halved and pitted
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • A couple of chilies (preferably serrano or jalapeno)
  • The juice of 3 limes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 30ml olive oil
  • A handful of coriander (stems included), finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Mash the avocado flesh making sure that some chunks are left.

Toss the mashed avocado in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients (except for the olive oil and the coriander). Mix thoroughly.

Add the olive oil slowly, stirring the guacamole constantly using a fork.

Cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Add the coriander before serving.

**There are some interesting variations to this dish that you may want to try out. For example, try roasted garlic instead of its raw version, add chipotle chilies for a sweeter taste, include some mango puree into the mix, or add some corn kernels to make it more filling.

Smoky Barbecue Sauce

BBQ Sauce

No barbecue would be complete without a generous serving of barbecue sauce. You want to make sure that the sauce has some smoky notes to match the occasion, so here's a simple and mouth-watering recipe.

Ingredients

  • Half an onion, diced into small cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves (or more depending on your preference), chopped
  • 135g brown sugar
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 60ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 8oz bottle of ketchup
  • 20ml mustard
  • 10g ground cumin seeds
  • 10g chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Cook the garlic, onion, chili flakes, and cumin in olive oil for about 6 minutes, then add the salt and pepper.

Mix the ketchup, vinegar, sugar, and mustard in a bowl and add to the pan, cooking the mixture for 20 minutes. Allow the sauce to cool and refrigerate the leftovers (if there are any, that is!).