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21 picnic-perfect side dishes, salads and slaws

As the weather warms up, picnic season and outdoor dining converge into one delicious opportunity for fresh salads and sides to flavor your world, from blackeye pea “caviar” to brisket loaded fries, spicy street corn, crunchy slaw, amped-up potato salads, pickled veggies and more.

Much like Thanksgiving dinner, the sides can totally steal the show at summer picnics. It seems like every cook in America has their go-to potato salad or slaw they can’t show up without. Onsite chefs have their signature sides, too, perfect for the outdoor events, picnics, cookouts and any outdoor dining situation ready to come into full bloom as the spring sunshine heats things up.

We found super-fresh plant-forward dishes, like a rainbow-hued slaw at Marin (Calif.) Country Day School and Sodexo’s vibrant corn and bean salad. We also found the county fair-inspired indulgent side of spring and summer, with UConn’s spinach-bacon-cheese fritters and the University of Houston’s fries, which are smothered in chopped brisket, kimchi, cabbage and chipotle-ranch sauce. And no picnic is complete without potato salad. Check out Bama Dining’s loaded potato salad, plus chickpea salads, Cuban rice and beans and even a hominy casserole, all perfect for getting your picnic on.

Contact Tara at [email protected]

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