Seeing as it is summer, which is pretty much equated with BBQ season, I thought I would experiment with a few fun summer side dishes.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes 

Rather than eat these on their own, I like to keep a big batch of cherry tomatoes roasted as I find them to be a wonderful addition to salads and other foods.

Ingredients

2 cups vine cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3-4 bay leaves

Directions

  1. Place the cherry tomatoes in baking dish and coat with the olive oil.
  2. Add the seasonings and place the bay leaves on top.
  3. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 45 minutes, until they are slightly charred.
  4. Reserve to add in dishes as you desire.

cherry tomatoes – ready to be added as garnish to any dish (remove bay leaves)

Tuna Stuffed Cucumber Cups

Ingredients

1 tuna steak

1/2 red onion chopped

1 red chili pepper (optional)

salt to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (recipe above)

1 large cucumber

Directions

  1. Heat a small fry pan. Add the extra virgin olive oil. Sear the tuna fish – just under 2 minutes/side.
  2. Remove the tuna fish from the fry pan. Add the red onion and sauté until browned.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the onion and sliced red chili pepper once the onions have cooled.
  4. Finely dice the tuna fish and stir into the onion mix. Add the roasted cherry tomatoes and mix.
  5. Add a splash of the balsamic vinegar – taste and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Wash and peel the cucumber. Slice the cucumber into chunks. Hollow out the cucumber to leave the middle empty.
  7. Fill the cucumbers with the tuna mix.

hollowed out cucumber chunks

cucumber chunks stuffed with a spicy tuna mix

Deviled eggs

Ingredients

4 large eggs

1 ripe avocado

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder

fresh lime juice, to taste

salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Place the eggs in a small pot filled with cold water and bring it to a boil. Once the water has started to boil, turn off the heat, keep the eggs in the pan, covered, for an additional 10-12 minutes. Right after, remove the eggs from the pot and immerse them in cold water in order to stop them from cooking any further.
  2. Peel the eggs when they are cool enough to handle.
  3. Slice the peeled eggs lengthwise in half. Remove the egg yolks and place them in a bowl.
  4. Add a peeled, diced ripe avocado, the lime juice, and seasonings (except paprika) to the egg yolks and mash everything together until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  5. Fill each egg white with the mixture and garnish with a sprinkling of paprika.

innocent deviled eggs – I garnished them with a bit of the tuna mixture (recipe above)

Antipasti

2 medium aubergines, sliced lengthways

2 medium courgettes, sliced lengthways

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced lengthways

1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthways

1 cup of mushrooms

2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into small wedges

extra virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup total)

salt, dried herbs, garlic powder – to taste

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil and seasonings/spices/herbs.
  2. In a larger bowl, place the prepared vegetables (you may have to do this in batches). Slowly add the oil mixture – just enough to coat the vegetables.
  3. Layer the coated vegetables on a parchment paper lined baking tray.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven (180°C) for around 25 minutes. Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the slices of vegetables.

antipasti – the perfect mealtime supplement

Lettuce Tacos

8 baby gem lettuce leaves

8 stalks of asparagus, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and diced

1 red onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

salt to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Heat a saucepan. Add the extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Add the onions and add the minced garlic after the onions slightly start to brown.
  3. Add in the carrots and asparagus. Sauté until they cook to your preferred texture (I like them to have a bit of bite).
  4. Season according to taste
  5. Fill the lettuce leaves with the vegetable mixture.

a combination of onions, carrots, and asparagus

vegan lettuce tacos garnished with salsa (recipe below)

Salsa, Guacamole, and Spicy Almond Crackers

Salsa

Ingredients

3-4 medium vine tomatoes, diced into small pieces

1/2 onion, finely diced

1 jalapeño, diced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 lime, juice

salt to taste

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Adjust the seasoning according to taste.

guacamole in the making – basically the salsa above with avocados

Guacamole 

2 large avocados

1 small tomato, finely diced

1/2 white onion, finely diced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

salt to taste

Directions

  1. Slice the avocados in half, de-seed, and scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl.
  2. Mash the avocado to your desired consistency.
  3. Add in the onions, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Mix well.
  4. Eat right away. If you’re storing for later, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, making sure that the wrap fully touches the guacamole – this prevents it from browning.

Spicy Almond Crackers 

Ingredients

2 cups almond flour

1/2 teaspoon each of salt, garlic granules, cumin powder, paprika (and any other spice mix/flavor combination you might like)

3 tablespoons egg whites

Directions

  1. Combine the almond flour and spices in a bowl.
  2. Mix in the egg whites. Knead the mixture and form a ball of dough.
  3. Put the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick (basically, it should be quite thin).
  4. Cut the dough into your desired shape and bake in the oven at 200°C for 10 minutes. Allow it to cool – which will also crisp it up.
  5. Enjoy with the salsa and guacamole above!

cutting out the dough into square crackers

crackers and dip