We love summertime for casual, carefree outdoor dining. We look forward all winter to opening up the patio umbrella, spreading out a blanket, or calling dibs on a picnic table at the park. Whatever our al fresco eating preference, choosing dishes that are easy to prepare, fresh, and in season will guarantee more fun in the sun and less time in the kitchen.
Check out this guide for serving our grill-ready salmon burgers with all the fixings along with side dishes that require minimal refrigeration. If you missed the sale, you can serve all of these toppings and sides with grilled salmon fillets—bun optional! Or if a burger is all you're dreaming of, here’s how to make your own burgers from scratch.
BUILD A FIRST-RATE BURGER
Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Burger
The Mediterranean flavors in these burgers are echoed in a classic caprese-topped burger. Double down on the fresh basil with an easy pesto spread (mix it with a spoonful of mayo for extra richness), then top with sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and arugula and serve on a toasted bun.
Fire-Roasted Veggie Salmon Burger
Fire-roasted veggies—bell peppers, onion, and corn—are complemented with toppings that bring out the smoky freshness of these ingredients. A versatile romesco sauce is especially delicious on grilled salmon burgers with charred green onions and tender lettuce, served on a toasted brioche bun.
EASY-BREEZY SUMMER SIDE DISHES
At your next cookout, serve any of these scrumptious dishes alongside the burgers above or your favorite grilled seafood.
Charred Corn & Black Bean Salad
This simple side dish is great at picnics and dinner tables alike. Serve it alongside grilled fish fillets or salmon burgers or spoon it into fish tacos with a squeeze of lime. The salty, dry queso fresco does well at room temperature, but you can swap the mayonnaise with the same amount of neutral oil for fridgeless dining.
Crunchy Cilantro-Lime Coleslaw
Everyone loves a good slaw recipe. This mayo-free version serves 6 to 8 people and is super refreshing—especially at outdoor events. To make it, in a large bowl, combine ¼ cup fresh lime juice and 1 tablespoon sugar. Add 8 cups shredded green cabbage (about 1 small head), 2 cups shredded carrots, ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, ¼ cup toasted pepitas, and ¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos (or to taste). Add ⅔ cup neutral oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
Italian Chopped Salad
Juicy, crunchy chopped salads are summertime favorites. You may recognize this one, which serves 6 to 8 people, from your favorite red-sauce joint, but it also makes a terrific picnic-ready accompaniment to grilled fish kabobs, fish fillets, or our salmon burgers.
Roasted Broccoli with Frico Crumble
Cooked green veggies might not be typical picnic fare, but this one—roasted broccoli with toasty, crumbed Parmesan crisps—is sure to become a regular at yours. You can grill the broccoli before the burgers go on for extra charred flavor. To make it, cut 2 large heads broccoli into large florets with the stems attached. Place on a large baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 450°F until crisp-tender and charred, about 20 minutes, turning once. Let cool, then sprinkle with the frico crumble and serve with lemon wedges. Serves 6 to 8 people.
At the height of summer, when tomatoes are at their absolute best, use juicy, ripe ones from your garden or favorite farm stand. Any other time, grape tomatoes are perfectly acceptable stand-ins for this lovely accompaniment to grilled seafood or salmon burgers. To make it, in a large bowl, combine 1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges, or 2 pints halved grape tomatoes; 1½ cups chopped, seeded English cucumbers; and ½ cup thinly sliced red onion. Sprinkle with salt and let sit until juicy, about 10 minutes. Add ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, ½ cup crumbled feta, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in some cooked grains or small pasta shapes for substance, or leave it low-carb. Serves 6 to 8 people.
Three Pea Garden Salad
This vibrant salad is an explosion of flavors, colors, and textures and is the perfect al fresco side for any type of grilled seafood or salmon burgers.