By Joanne Bruno | June 14, 2011

Photo: Joanne Bruno

So. You want to one-up your sister/brother/cousin/third nephew once removed/grandmother at the next family barbecue.

It’s okay.  No judgment. 

I completely understand. My father and I have been known to have screaming matches over Christmas dinner dishes. (I always win.  I have vocal cords of steel.)  It happens.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

So.  How to go about it.  That is the question.

From what I’ve gleaned over the years, most people can put together a good burger or throw a hot dog on the grill.  Been there, done that, boring.

I mean, sure, you should probably work on your grilling skills if everything you make ends up tasting like burnt rubber.  But if you really want to captivate someone’s taste buds?

The side dishes are where it’s at.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

Right now, everyone in the northern hemisphere is frantically scouring the internet and fervently watching backdated episodes of old Food Network shows trying to find the next best barbecue salad.

There are the classics, of course.  Potato, macaroni, cole slaw.  But I’ll be honest with you.  Mayo kind of skeeves me out.

So mayo that’s been sitting in the sun all day?  You’d have to sedate me to get me to eat it.

I can’t be the only one who feels this way.  Right?  Please?  Say yes?

Photo: Joanne Bruno

Well, you can put away that old issue of insert random cooking magazine here and turn off your TV.

The search is over.

This salad made with cranberry beans, farm fresh super sweet sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes is so delicious that you might be convinced to eat it as your main meal in lieu of a burger.  It is dressed in a sweet and salty vinaigrette that leaves you feeling light and refreshed (can’t say that about a mayo-based salad).

And the best part is?  You don’t even have to turn on your stove to make it.

So feel free to call up your sister/brother/cousin/third nephew once removed/grandmother and let them know that the games are on.  Seriously. It’s in the bag.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

Adapted from Whole Foods

Joanne Bruno is a food writer and second year medical student.  Find more of her delicious ramblings over at her blog: Eats Well With Others.  Joanne is also training for her third marathon with Team in Training, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  For more information or to make a donation, check out her fundraising website.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

Cranberry Bean and Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Gouda Recipe

Servings: 4-6


  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt(plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight and cooked in salted water OR 2 cups cooked beans (can also use pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc.)
  • 1 lb sugar snap peas, stemmed
  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup diced Gouda(about 5 oz)
  • 1 small red onion, diced


1. Whisk together the honey, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper.

2. In a large bowl, toss the beans, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, gouda, and red onion. Mix with the dressing until everything is coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate and allow flavors to blend for at least 30 minutes.

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