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Six Simple Summer Sides

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Tomato Ginger Green Beans

Hot temps call for chill sides. Not necessarily “chill,” as in temperature, but most certainly  “chill” as in effort required! Puns aside, keeping the heat out of the kitchen is definitely the way to go. With that in mind, I am sharing six of my go-to simple summer sides, made with fresh seasonal ingredients, great for easy suppers at home and casual entertaining.

My entire health journey has revolved and evolved with side dishes not on the side, but at the forefront. I moved from having at least one carb at every meal to at least two non-starchy fruits or vegetables at every meal, breakfast included. I am a side dish fanatic.

The following recipes are my summer go-to sides: Tomato Ginger Green Beans,  Air Fryer Greek Feta Fries, Creamed Corn Stuffed Tomatoes, Baked Zucchini Chips, Peach and Tomato Gazpacho, and Small Bake Almond Crusted Baked Peaches. (Yes, dessert gets a free pass and can role play any course.) I am certain you will love them, too. 

Need even more simple summer side dishes? Keep reading to find out what I’ve got “on the side” with All Recipes magazine!

Peach Tomato Gazpacho on virginiawillis.com

All Recipes

I’m excited to partner up with All Recipes for  “Simple Sides”  literally, a single page in every issue with three short, sweet, and satisfying side dishes. These are real-life recipes for me, ones you might find at my table. Good and good-for-you dishes that are satisfying and delicious. Click HERE for a slideshow of my All Recipes side dish recipes and make sure to save the page to access new recipes as we update throughout the year!

“Because of her own journey with healthy eating and weight loss, Virginia is an enthusiastic cheerleader for others seeking to make lifestyle changes in the interest of feeling healthier and happier.”  – All Recipes

In the past year or so I have received an amazing number of DMs, emails, messages, texts, and yes, even real honest-to-goodness letters from people thanking me for inspiring them with my health journey. It’s tremendous. I am immensely grateful if something I do can inspire someone else to do something good in their own life. And, not kidding, it can be as simple as starting with your side dishes!

Air Fryer Greek Feta Fries on virginiawillis.com
Air Fryer Greek Feta Fries

Simple Summer Side Dishes

Whether you’re looking for a lifestyle change or just a simple summer side dish, these recipes are just the chill you need this summer.

1. Tomato Ginger Green Beans – Big, bold flavors of ginger and jalapeño partner with green beans for a side dish that can be served hot, warm, or chilled. 
2. Air Fryer Greek Feta Fries –  Who needs soggy takeout? This showstopper seems indulgent, but with 80% less fat than the deep-fried version. 
3. Creamed Corn Stuffed Tomatoes – Two of summer’s most delicious ingredients pair up with savory herbs, fresh peppers, and creamy cheese 
4. Baked Zucchini Chips – Good and good for you zucchini crisps are a great summer side dish — if they make it to the table! 
5. Peach and Tomato Gazpacho –  This chilled soup is so good you might want to splash it with vodka and turn it into a cocktail. 
6. Small Bake Almond Crusted Baked Peaches  – You won’t believe the secret ingredient that amps up the peach flavor. 

 

Check it out the slideshow on my Instagram feed @VirginiaWillis — and please make sure to give me a follow!

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis

PS Click HERE for a slideshow of my All Recipes side dish recipes and make sure to save the page to access new recipes as we update throughout the year!

Tomato Ginger Green Beans

Tomato-Ginger Green Beans

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: green bean recipe, green bean salad
Servings: 6
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans, French-style haricots verts work especially well, stem ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño or to taste, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set it nearby. Line a plate with paper towels.
  • Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until crisp- tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well in a colander and then set the colander with the beans in the ice-water bath to set the color and stop the cooking, making sure the beans are submerged. You can also zap them in the microwave and chill under cold running water. Once chilled, transfer the beans to the prepared plate. Pat dry with paper towels and then transfer to a bowl.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the tomatoes and jalapeño and cook until warmed through, 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked green beans and toss to coat and combine. Cook, tossing and stirring, until the green beans are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cilantro; taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. This dish is delicious served hot, warm, room temperature, or cold. If served cold, make sure to taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper, as chilling a dish dulls the seasoning.

Air Fryer Greek Feta Fries on virginiawillis.com

Air Fryer Greek Feta Fries

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time16 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fryer, feta cheese recipes, fries, potato recipe
Servings: 4
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup crumbled Feta PDO
  • Zest of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat an air fryer to 395°F and spray the basket with nonstick spray. Prepare a medium bowl of cold water.
  • Cut the potato in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices into 1/4-inch sticks. Put the fries in the prepared bowl of cold water. Set aside for 15 minutes. Drain and pat well with a towel to dry.
  • Place the dry fries in a medium bowl and spritz with more nonstick cooking spray. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Working in batches, if necessary, put the fries in an even layer in the air fryer basket with no overlapping and cook, shaking them and turning them halfway through, until golden brown and crisp, 14 to 16 minutes total cooking time.
  • Meanwhile, combine the feta, lemon zest, garlic, and parsley in large bowl. Once the fries have cooked, tip the fries into the feta mixture. Toss to coat. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Creamed Corn Stuffed Tomatoes on virginiawillis.com

 

Creamed Corn-Stuffed Tomatoes

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: creamed corn, stuffed tomatoes
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons pure olive oil
  • Scraped kernels from 4 ears fresh sweet corn (about 2 cups kernels)
  • 1 poblano chile, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus optional sprigs for garnish
  • ¼ cup crushed tortilla chips

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. To form tomato shells, with a serrated knife, slice off the tops of the tomatoes and remove their cores. Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp of the tomatoes to create a shell, transferring the juices and pulp to a small bowl. Using your hands, squish the pulp and seeds until smooth but slightly chunky. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, to make the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn and poblano and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the reserved tomato mixture and cook until it’s absorbed into the corn and the skillet is dry, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the grated cheese and chopped thyme. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the tomato shells, cut-side up, in a small casserole dish. For each tomato shell, spoon in some filling (about 1/3 cup each, depending on the size of the tomato). Sprinkle over the crushed tortilla chips.
  • Bake the tomatoes until the filling is heated through, the tomato shells are tender, and the topping is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
  • Calories 124 Fat 4 g Carbs 20 g Fiber 4 g Protein 5 g

Baked Zucchini Crisps on virginiawillis.com

Baked Zucchini Crisps

Makes 60 pieces to serve 6
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: baked zucchini, healthy recipes
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites lightly beaten
  • 2 medium zucchini stemmed and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups panko Japanese bread crumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 2 ounces
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Organic nonstick cooking spray

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with silicone mats. Place the egg whites in a large bowl and beat with a whisk until frothy. Add the zucchini slices and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine and coat.
  • In a shallow dish, combine the panko, Parmesan, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Dip each squash round into the panko mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating to stick. Place them in a single layer without touching on the prepared baking sheets. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown and crispy, rotating top to bottom, about 25 minutes. Using a metal spatula, immediately remove the crisps to a rack to cool slightly (and to prevent them from becoming soggy) before serving.
  • Calories 112 Fat .2 g Carbs 22 g Fiber 1 g Protein 5 g

Peach Tomato Gazpacho on virginiawillis.com

 

Peach and Tomato Gazpacho with Cucumber-Herb Yogurt

Makes 6 cups to serve 6
Prep Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: chilled soup recipe, cold soup, gazpacho
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 4 large peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large tomatoes, cored and quartered (about 4 cups)
  • ½ sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/3 cup 0% skyr aka Icelandic yogurt
  • 3/4 cup finely diced peeled English cucumber (about 3 inches)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram or chives, plus more for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (optional)
  • ¼ peach. pitted and thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  • Combine the quartered peaches, tomatoes, onion, and vinegar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. (Take the time to chill the serving bowls at this time, as well.)
  • Place the skyr in a medium bowl. Add the cucumber, chives, and garlic and stir to combine; season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready for use.
  • When ready to serve, taste and adjust the soup for seasoning with salt and pepper. (Chilling dulls the seasoning so it may need to be adjusted.) Ladle the chilled gazpacho into the chilled bowls. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the cucumber-yogurt mixture into the center. Garnish with a peach slice and a sprig of marjoram. Drizzle over a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil.

Notes

I told my mama about this soup and her slow response, in a very dubious drawl, was “Peaches and tomatoes?” I’ll admit my family can be a bit slow sometimes in accepting my version of “new Southern cooking.” Guess what? She loved it and I think you will, too. This soup is indeed summer in a bowl. It’s light and refreshing, just the right balance of sweet peaches and slightly acidic tomatoes. Best yet, this elegant soup may be made ahead. Take the time to chill the serving bowls, as well, for an extra special touch.

Almond Crusted Baked Peaches

A few staple pantry ingredients - including soy sauce - are combined in a buttery crumble topping for a baked peach. It's was easy as 1-2-3. Soy sauce shares molecular compounds and is a surprise pairing with stonefruit.
Servings: 4
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature or 2 tablespoons mild oil such as sunflower
  • ¼ cup fine almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or brown sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 freestone peaches
  • Skyr or yogurt, for serving
  • Candied Ginger, for serving
  • Honey, for serving
  • Sage leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 350°F. Combine the fat, flour, sugar, extract, and soy sauce. Stir until smooth. Halve the peaches and discard the stones. Divide the mixture between the peaches, about 2 tablespoons per peach. Spread it to evenly coat the peach. Place in an ovenproof casserole or skillet. Transfer to the oven and bake until the peach is tender to the point of a knife and the almond topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, garnish the plates with skyr, candied ginger, and honey. Rest the peaches on top and garnish with sage.

 

Virginia Willis in denim: photo credit All Recipes

Food photos by Angie Mosier except Baked Peaches by Virginia Willis 

Let’s cook something up! If you are interested in hosting me for a speaking engagement, event, cooking class, or book signing, let me know! Send an email to jona@virginiawillis.com and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.

I am not a doctor, RD, health professional, or WW representative. I am simply sharing what works for me. My blog is for informational or educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals.

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Please note that this post may contain affiliate links.

Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 1 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    These look sooo good!

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