Great Culinary Ideas For Fourth Of July Cookouts

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, and for many of us, this patriotic holiday means fireworks, parades, remembering American independence and, in true American spirit, a lot of great food. Cookouts are a huge tradition on the Fourth of July, especially for those in the culinary academy who want to show off all of their grilling and cooking skills.

There’s a lot you can cook up for your friends and family outside of the typical burgers and hot dogs. If you need some assistance coming up with a foodie’s dream Fourth of July menu, try out some of these excellent gourmet ideas for an Independence Day bash your guests won’t forget:

Appetizers: It’s summer, which means there are a lot of fresh garden items available for delicious and healthy appetizers. You can make caprese skewers with grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls and leafy sweet basil – just drizzle with a balsamic reduction and you have a tasty, cheap appetizer that’s also a crowd pleaser. Guacamole and salsa are also starter staples, but mix things up by adding mango or pineapple to the mix – this adds a sweet dimension and complexity of flavors you won’t see in store-bought brands.

Salads and sides: Summer is also a season when gardens are teeming with fresh veggies – so it would be a shame to not show them off at your Fourth of July cookout. Since you probably have the grill going already for your meat, add in some veggies too. Drizzle asparagus, sliced zucchini or yellow squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, wrap the veggies up in aluminum foil then toss them on the grill. The smoky flavors work wonderfully with these hearty vegetables, and the grill gives them an added summery crunch. As for other salads and sides, you can’t go wrong with all-American baked beans, corn on the cob and potato salad.

Mains: For your mains, you also have a plethora of options. However, as a culinary expert, you might want to steer clear of the typical burgers and hot dogs and go for something a bit more complex. For instance, you could marinate your own beef ribs or brisket and go for a Texas barbecue feast. Or, get really fancy and try making this three-pepper pork tenderloin with peach-cucumber salad from Food & Wine. These are both great ways to celebrate the holiday while still showcasing seasonal produce.

Desserts: On the Fourth of July, the desserts are almost as important as the main dish itself, so you need to make sure your sweets are on point. Traditional fruit pies – peach, cherry and apple immediately come to mind – are excellent options. Red, white and blue shortcake with fresh blueberries, strawberries and vanilla frosting is another classic dessert worth trying. Also, making and churning your own ice cream or offering homemade popsicles is about as American as it gets.

Of course, you can help wash all of this down by making your own spiked fruit punch or offering American-made craft brews to round out the holiday culinary celebration. Happy Fourth of July!

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