Our Favorite 4th of July BBQ Sides and Drinks with a Greek Twist

Asparagus. Photo: pexels.com.

The iconic 4th of July barbecue always features hot dogs and hamburgers, but it’s also an opportunity to impress your guests with some Greek flavors in the side dishes as well. Enjoy the following recipes to celebrate the USA’s 242nd birthday this year.

Grilled Asparagus

1 pound fresh asparagus
Greek extra virgin olive oil
Greek sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 lemon

Trim the tough ends of the asparagus, then wash the asparagus and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the asparagus with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Place the asparagus on a preheated grill outdoors or grill pan on the stove over high heat for 2-3 minutes or to desired doneness, turning every now and then to avoid burning. Remove the asparagus from the grill and place on a serving dish, drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and serve immediately.

Marinated Potato Salad

5-6 medium Yukon gold or red new potatoes
1 large red onion, chopped
2 small jars (6 ounces each) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips
2-3 medium roma tomatoes, sliced
Black olives, of your choice
1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Wash the potatoes and place them in a large deep pot with enough water to cover them and bring to a boil, over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add a pinch of salt, and continue simmering the potatoes until they are tender, but not disintegrated. When the potatoes have reached the desired tenderness, remove from heat. A cup of cold water will stop the cooking process. Drain the potatoes and while they are still warm, cut into cubes, placing them in a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. The potato salad may be served immediately, or cover tightly and keep refrigerated until needed even up to a day in advance, just give it a stir every so often to make sure the flavors are evenly distributed.

Romaine Salad with Feta

1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 small cucumbers, peeled and sliced
2-3 roma tomatoes, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Greek sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 cup feta, Dodonis or Arahovas

Rinse the lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and pat dry with a paper towel or spin dry in a salad spinner. In a large salad bowl, toss together the sliced romaine lettuce, red onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, and the oregano. Season with oregano, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Add the red wine vinegar, drizzle with Greek extra virgin olive oil, and toss the salad. Add feta cut into small, bite-sized chunks or in one large piece on top of the salad. Drizzle with additional Greek extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of dried oregano, and serve.

Grilled Halloumi Salad

1 pound halloumi, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
4 cups baby arugula
2 medium oranges
2-4 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
3 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted
Greek sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Prepare grill and heat to medium high heat. Grill the halloumi until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the grilled halloumi to a dish and set aside. Rinse and drain the arugula and transfer to a salad bowl. Peel and cut the oranges into segments, making sure to catch the juices in the salad bowl. Add the chopped mint, the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Toss the salad to evenly distribute the dressing. Top with the toasted walnut halves and the grilled halloumi. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Cocktails

Greek Watermelon Mojito

1 ½ oz. rum
4 pieces (1-inch squares) fresh watermelon or 1 oz. fresh watermelon puree
1 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. Greek sparkling water, or Perrier
6 mint leaves and one large mint sprig

In a tall mixing glass, muddle a piece of watermelon and the mint leaves with the simple syrup. Add the rum and lime juice, then fill the glass with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice into a glass. Top with Greek sparkling water or Perrier, and swirl gently. Garnish with the sprig of mint.

Greek Sangria- Agiorgitiko with Fruit

12 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
12 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
8 oz. dark rum
8 oz. orange liqueur
2 liters Saint George (Agiorgitiko) wine
6 oz. mixed fruits, your choice of lemon, lime, oranges, apple, strawberries, figs, peaches, or pineapple

To prepare, mix in a large glass pitcher or punch bowl and serve over ice.