Hamburgers, whether dressed with cheese, grilled onions or fresh tomatoes, can be a tasty entree capable of satisfying even the pickiest eaters. However, choosing the perfect hamburger side dish means creating an accompaniment that is both flavorful and nutritious.
Grilled vegetable kabobs/skewers
Summertime or anytime cookouts present the perfect opportunity to make a healthy side dish of grilled vegetable kabobs. Kabobs are easy and versatile. You can select vegetables to suit a variety of taste preferences. Healthful, delicious choices include red onions, green bell peppers, red/yellow/orange bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash and cauliflower.
Wash and prepare the fresh vegetables by chopping them into approximately one and one-half inch pieces. Often the mushrooms will not need to be cut down; simply clean and they are ready to skewer. Using metal or wooden skewers (wooden skewers typically need to be soaked first), spear the vegetables so each skewer contains at least two of each vegetable.
A marinade can be brushed on the vegetables for a bit of zippy flavor. Brush a light coat of your favorite prepared marinade onto to each skewer or make your own by combining three tablespoons orange juice, one tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon orange marmalade, one clove crushed garlic, one-half teaspoon each of salt and pepper and one teaspoon red pepper flakes.
Place the vegetable-filled skewers on the heated grill opposite the hamburgers, if you also are grilling the burgers. If you prefer the grilled vegetables to have a slight crunch, grill for about 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the skewer at least twice. For softer, tender vegetables, grill for about 20 minutes, but keep a close eye on the mushrooms as they can soften before the other vegetables.
Be very careful never to let the juices of raw hamburger meat (or any other meat) contaminate the vegetables. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instructs all cooks to "use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw (uncooked) produce and for raw (uncooked) meat, poultry, seafood and eggs."
Serve the grilled vegetables over brown or white rice as a quick and easy hamburger side dish. Generally, plan on serving about two skewers of vegetables per adult and one per child.
Lemon pepper green beans with bacon
Green beans can be prepared in multiple ways. However, when served crisp-tender and flavored with lemon pepper and bacon, the green bean side dish explodes with flavor. To create this side dish that pairs perfectly with hamburgers, begin with two pounds of fresh green beans that have been cleaned and the tips trimmed.
Set the beans aside and cook six slices of your favorite bacon in a skillet. Drain the bacon on a paper towel after it is fully cooked. Crumble the bacon into smaller pieces and set aside as well. Remove any excess oil from the bacon skillet. In the skillet combine three tablespoons butter, one-half cup white wine and one-quarter cup lemon juice. Heat to boiling and add two teaspoons ground black pepper. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer for about ten minutes until it reduces by about half.
While the sauce is simmering, place the prepared beans into a large saucepan. Cover the beans with water and heat to boiling. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about five minutes. After five minutes, the beans should be bright green and crisp-tender. Turn off the heat and drain the water from the beans. By this time, the sauce in the skillet should be ready. Remove it from the heat.
Place the cooked green beans in a large serving bowl. Pour sauce over the beans and toss to coat. Add the bacon crumbles and combine thoroughly. Serve alongside hamburgers. Lemon pepper green beans with bacon serves about four to six people.