A taste of summer: 10 of our favorite seasonal Southern sides

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

Whether you're working through a farmers market windfall, the abundance of a summer garden, or simply feel like cooking seasonally, these 10 recipes make the most of warm-weather produce. 

Southern squash soufflé

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This creamy, cheesy recipe is just a fancier version of squash casserole. A crisp, buttered breadcrumb topping lends texture to an otherwise tender casserole we've made even more luscious by first removing the seeds and adding more egg than usual. Get the recipe

Spicy dilly beans

Spicy Dilly Beans

Are these beans a side? A garnish? They're both, really. These crisp, spicy dilly beans are a great way to use up an abundance of overgrown beans that always seem to be hiding beneath the leaves in the garden. They're perfect in a martini or bloody mary, added to a summery nicoise salad, or just for snacking out of the jar. Get the recipe

Country ham peach bites

Country Ham and Peach Bites

The salty, buttery nature of country ham is a delicious foil to fragrant peach and basil. Infusing the honey with red pepper flakes adds zing and rounds out the flavors. These one-bite wonders are great with cocktails and will rev up your appetite for the main course. Get the recipe

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Fried okra with pickle aioli

Fried Okra With Pickle Aioli

Think you don't like the texture of okra? This crispy-fried recipe is for you. Cutting the pod lengthwise and the rather aggressive cooking method used here helps with the so-called "sliminess" of the vegetable. Pickle aioli adds much-needed acidity. Note: we prefer Texas Pete hot sauce and Duke’s Mayonnaise in this recipe.

Crispy baked okra

A healthier take on fried okra.

If you're looking for a slightly healthier take on traditional fried okra, this crunchy baked version is just like the classic fried side, but it's baked and oil-free. Panko bread crumbs pack a lot of crunch . As an added bonus, roasting not only enhances the flavor of okra but also helps with textural issues. Get the recipe.

Classic corn casserole with a kick

Hot corn casserole

This ultra-simple recipe blends cream cheese and butter with canned shoepeg corn, green chiles and diced jalapeños. We say replace the canned corn with lightly blanched fresh kernels. As easy as a side dish gets, this can be made all in one casserole dish. You’ll only need a knife to chop the jalapeños and a spatula to stir it all together. Get the recipe.

Green beans with almond brown butter

The freshness of green beans works beautifully with earthy, nutty almond brown butter. Take the time to properly follow all the steps for blanching green beans, and avoid overcrowding the pot to ensure they maintain their vibrant color. Perfectly cooked beans will have a good bite, but no discernible crunch. Get the recipe.

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Tomato field pea salad

Tomato-Field Pea Salad With Garlic Mayonnaise

This recipe, from Atlanta chef Scott Peacock, makes great use of summer tomatoes and field peas. Quickly blanching field peas highlights a snap and earthiness you can't find from an overly boiled bean. The salad is fine enough to stand on its own but would also make a terrific foil for fried soft-shell crab or grilled meat. Get the recipe.

Green tomato pakoras

Green Tomato Pakoras from Chai Pani

Chai Pani, a restaurant serving vibrant Indian street food, started in Asheville, North Carolina, and now has a location in Decatur, Georgia. These curried green tomato pakoras were previously featured on the menu at the Georgia restaurant to highlight the food of the Deccan Plateau in Southern India. They're a perfect way to use any green tomatoes you have on the vine. Get the recipe

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Mexican street corn potato salad

This Mexican street corn potato salad is zingy and crunchy.

Use waxy red, purple and white potatoes for this tangy, creamy potato salad, which tastes just like elote, or Mexican street corn. 

Serves: 8

Ingredients

1-1/2 pounds tri-colored potatoes, cut in half

1 gallon cold water

2 tablespoons Kosher salt

4 ears sweet corn on the cob

1-1/4 cup Mexican crema

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper

1-1/2 tablespoons garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons Mexican hot sauce

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons cilantro

10 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

In a large pot over medium-high heat combine the potatoes and the cold water. Allow the water to come to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until fork tender (about 25-30 minutes), remove from the heat, drain and allow to cool.

Shuck the corn and grill over high heat until the kernels are slightly charred. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, cut the corn from the cobs and set aside while you make the sauce for the potato salad.

Combine the crema, mayonnaise, smoked paprika, cumin, chipotle chil powder, garlic, hot sauce, lime juice, cilantro and cotija cheese. Stir until mixed thoroughly. Toss the cooled and cooked potatoes along with the charred corn in the sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. The potato salad is now ready to eat but will taste even better if allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com