Everyone knows that July 4th is prime cookout time. Most likely it’s because of the desire to enjoy the holiday without being confined to a sweltering kitchen on what is usually a sweltering day. Hanging out with family and friends, a cool drink in hand, watching someone else assume the role of head chef isn’t a bad reason either.
Then, of course, there’s the food. Most people will tell you that July 4th is all about the meat, whether it’s traditional burgers and hot dogs or longer cooking options such as ribs, various cuts of steak, and even beer can chicken. And to a large extent, they’re right. Grilling meat outdoors over an open flame just seems to go with the idea of exploding fireworks.
But the holiday is also a time to enjoy certain iconic side dishes that any vegetarian would love. Whether it’s grilled asparagus or corn slathered with an herb-infused butter, creamy potato salads and veggie slaws, or skewers of zucchini, onions and cherry tomatoes, the abundance of seasonal vegetables means that plant-derived fare can easily share the plate with the more primal parts of the July 4th menu. Even fruit gets some well deserved attention in the form of pies, cobblers, and tarts.
One side dish that I particularly crave this time of year is barbecue beans. You know what I’m talking about. Buttery soft beans suspended in a tangy barbecue sauce with just a hint of heat. It’s the perfect accompaniment to all types of grilled meats.