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3 easy summer sides that will make your 4th of July cookout even tastier

Strawberry and blueberry scones on a plate

This Fourth of July, try making strawberry and blueberry scones as a red, white and blue-themed treat. 

Whatever you throw on the grill for your summer cookouts — hamburgers or hot dogs, meat-substitute burgers and dogs, or even just vegetables — be sure that your complements will garner plenty of compliments!

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend ahead of us, there will be plenty of cookouts and gatherings, so I’ve pulled together a few favorites to offer some ideas. The coleslaw is super easy, especially if you buy a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix (the kind without the dressing included). I call it 1-2-3 coleslaw because I remember the measurements that way. It’s vegetarian, and though I haven’t tried it with vegan mayonnaise, my guess is that it will work well.

For the potato salad, this is more of a German-style potato salad, usually served warm, with bacon. It’s also quite good cold so you can certainly make it ahead of time. I have also made this vegan by using chopped bell peppers sautéed in olive oil instead of the bacon (and it’s really pretty if you use two different colors of peppers). Although I include mayonnaise in the instructions, I often don’t use it. The challenge here is that sometimes the potatoes absorb more of the dressing, sometimes less. (This creates difficulty when trying to write precise recipes because the moisture content of an ingredient can differ and that can affect the instructions.) Also optional are a couple of chopped hard boiled eggs mixed in.

A dessert possibility is red, white, and blue scones with strawberries and blueberries to keep with the July Fourth theme, and if you have houseguests for the weekend, you might make a batch for breakfast.

Try one or all of these to fill out your cookout offerings, and any of them can certainly travel to a potluck.


This cookout staple is called 1-2-3 coleslaw because it's an easy way to remember the ratio of ingredients. 


Serves 4-6, can be doubled


1 teaspoon celery seed

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons vinegar, white or cider

1/2 cup mayonnaise

14-ounce bag coleslaw mix (the kind without the dressing) or the equivalent in shredded cabbage and a couple shredded carrots


Be sure to make this at least a few hours before you wish to serve it.

In a large bowl, combine the celery seed, sugar, and vinegar. Mix to combine. The sugar will not really dissolve in the vinegar, but be sure the sugar is well saturated. Add the mayonnaise and stir to combine. It will not be fully smooth, but that’s fine.

Add the coleslaw mix and toss gently to distribute the dressing. Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator. Toss gently once or twice over the course of a couple hours, and mix once again right before serving.


Potato salad in a bowl

This German-style potato salad is generally served warm, but works as a cold dish as well.

Serves 6-8, can be doubled


4 large boiling or Yukon Gold potatoes, about 2 1/2 pounds, peeled if desired, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 slices bacon, chopped (for vegetarian/vegan 1 chopped bell pepper or half each from two different color peppers)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for vegetarian/vegan, or if needed

1/2-1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt for vegetarian/vegan

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon celery seed

3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 cup cider vinegar

Salt to taste

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)

Mayonnaise to taste/consistency if needed or desired


Place the potato pieces into a saucepan and add water to cover by an inch or so. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender and can be pierced easily with a cake tester or thin knife. This could take as little as 5 minutes at a boil if the pieces are small. When tender, reserve 1 cup of cooking water, drain potatoes, and set aside in a large bowl.

Cook chopped bacon and the onion in a medium sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. If the bacon is not giving off enough fat, drizzle in a bit of olive oil. For vegetarian/vegan, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering and fragrant. Add the chopped bell pepper and onion to the pan with the salt. For either version, add the fresh ground pepper and cook until the onion is tender and beginning to color.

Sprinkle the flour, sugar, celery seed and dry mustard into sauté pan, and cook for a minute or two, stirring until the fat is mostly absorbed by the dry ingredients. Deglaze with the vinegar and the reserved potato water, scraping up any browned bits.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes and mix well. Taste for salt, which is especially tricky with bacon because the saltiness of bacon can vary widely. Let cool, then add the hard-boiled eggs if using, and mayonnaise if needed to your desired taste/consistency.


Makes 8


1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk or milk

1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (not low fat or non-fat)

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your work surface

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

6 tablespoons cold butter (but a full stick is easier to manipulate; see below)

1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and cut into ¾-inch pieces

1/2 cup blueberries

2 tablespoons milk

Vanilla sugar or cinnamon sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment or foil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and sour cream. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Dust your work surface with flour.

If you have a box grater, rest it in the bowl with the flour mixture and grate the cold butter on the big holes into the flour. For this method, it is easier to hold the end of a full stick of butter by the wrapper and stop with about two tablespoons remaining. Otherwise, cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Gently work the flour into the butter with your fingers.

Add the egg mixture and stir with a spatula or large spoon until just combined. Add the berries and mix gently to incorporate into the dough.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface. With lightly floured hands, form into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut into 8 wedges (or any other shape you prefer) and place on the prepared pan. Brush with milk and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Place the pan on a rack and allow the scones to cool on the pan. Some butter will have seeped out onto the parchment, but as the scones cool, it will get absorbed and they will taste really buttery.


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Elizabeth Baer is a teacher who loves to spend time in the kitchen. She also posts recipes and musings about food on her blog, culinursa.com/blog and can be reached at culinursa@gmail.com.

Elizabeth Baer is a teacher who loves to spend time in the kitchen. She also posts recipes and musings about food on her blog, culinursa.com/blog and can be reached at culinursa@gmail.com.

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