Kongnamul & Elote Salad: Surprisingly Simple Summer Sides

July 4th used to be one of my favorite holidays. I'd run around, ride my bike, go swimming, and exhaust myself to the point where I could eat a hot dog and a burger and Lays potato chips and cole slaw like I hadn't seen food in 364 days. Which was basically the truth since my parents rarely (read: never) had picnics or BBQs the rest of the year.

As a pescetarian, however,  I haven't looked forward to celebrating the 4th as I my food-burning-8-year-old-self once did. Perhaps it's that the sweet smoky smell of the BBQ doesn't result in anything edible for me now.... until I realized sides are king!! In the last few years I've really honed in on perfecting my sides game. From herbed focaccia to summer slaw to miso chickpea salad I've developed a repertoire of dressings and stove-less or very little stove time recipes in my head that I can whip out when it's warm and you want something festive and fresh.

This week, I can't wait to whip out a summery salad with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, snap peas, or green beans and will let whatever is at the farmer's market be my guide. However, if you don't make it to the market in time for a quick and easy side to bring to a BBQ, here are two you can make that involve very little prep work but deliver a punch to the party.

Kongnamul (Korean Bean Sprouts)
1 package bean sprouts
2 tbsp gochugaru
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2-4 stalks green onion, diced finely

1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the package of bean sprouts to the pot and let cook 3 minutes till they begin to turn translucent. Turn off the heat and strain sprouts in a colander.

2. Add sprouts to a bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated.

3. Chill in the fridge to let the flavors meld at least 30 minutes, but up to 1 day ahead.

Roasted Corn Elote Salad
2 ears of white corn, husked
3 oz cotija cheese
1 tbsp mayo
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lime, juiced

1. Brush corn with a little olive oil. Place corn on the BBQ or gas stovetop. Let cook till charred kernels appear. Ideally you want to cook the corn with high heat for a shorter amount of time so the kernels don't dry out, about 2-3 minutes per side.

2. Once cooked lay ears on their side and slice kernels off lengthwise. Rotate corn till all kernels are off. Transfer corn to a small mixing bowl.

3. Add remaining ingredients and toss, topping with a little extra cilantro and cotija for plating. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving so mayo doesn't sit out and flavors meld.