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Saturday, November 26

Gapers Block

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I recently had a party where I experienced three wonderful culinary adventures. One: I came up with a recipe for a delicious sweet potato salad. Two: I bought way too much corn on the cob, and a search for creative ways to serve the leftovers resulted in a yummy salad I call Spicy Corn Slaw. Three: I also bought way too many zucchini and yellow squash, which led me to make a pretty tasty roasted squash salad. Lots and lots of roasted squash salad. My three discoveries have become my three favorite summer side dish recipes, so be warned, if I have you over for dinner this summer, you'll probably end up being served at least one of them.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

My husband adores the sweet potato, but until last weekend I only knew of three ways to serve them to him: baked, mashed or fried. At work a few weeks ago we had a catered event where one of the side dishes was a roasted sweet potato salad, much like a creamy summer potato salad, only with sweet and delicious roasted sweet potatoes. It was divine. So I tasted and analyzed, put my culinary thinking cap on, and came up with what I think is a pretty good recipe, and my very happy sweet potato loving husband agrees.

5 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
1/2 of a medium sized sweet onion, diced into small cubes
1 red bell pepper, also diced into small cubes
Olive oil, salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup mayo (I use low-fat mayo)
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp granulated sugar

Place the diced sweet potato, onion, and bell pepper onto a cookie sheet (you may need two), spread in one layer. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the potato is softened, dry and lightly browned. Remove from oven and spread in a single layer on a sheet of wax paper to cool. Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. When the potato mixture is cooled to room temperature, slowly and carefully mix the sauce and potatoes together, alternating between a spoonful of sauce and about a quarter of the potatoes, until all of the potatoes are lightly coated. You may not use all of the sauce. Let sit for about an hour and serve!

Spicy Corn Slaw

What do you do with 20 leftover ears of corn? Roast them, cut the corn off the cob, experiment and learn a few new recipes. I had some leftover cole slaw, which I like to make a little bit spicy, and I had the brilliant idea to add some sweet roasted corn to it. Amazing. The sweet with the spicy is perfect, and I can't wait to try it on a BBQ pork sandwich. All I need now is a barbecue pit.

2 cups cooked corn (I used roasted corn cut off the cob, but you can use thawed frozen corn, or canned corn)
4 cups shredded white and red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots (you can also use the bagged pre-shredded slaw mix)
3 tbsp vinegar, cider or white wine
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dry mustard
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients and refrigerate overnight. Drain off any excess liquid and enjoy!

Squash Salad

I love squash, and it's a good thing because I had quite a bit of leftover zucchini and yellow summer squash, sliced, oiled, salted and peppered, and ready to grill. I couldn't leave it in the Zip-Lock bags for long, so I roasted it, diced it, cooled it and voila! A perfect (not to mention simple) summer side dish. Serving the cooked squash cold is a nice change from the hot grilled, steamed or pan-fried squash I'm used to eating.

3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
3 yellow summer squash, also sliced lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder

Brush sliced squash and zucchini with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, then broil for five minutes until lightly browned. You don't want it to be mushy, because you will be serving it cool. So pull it out when it still a little bit firm. Let your squash cool, then cut into cubes, toss with a little bit more salt, pepper, and olive oil and serve! I like it room temperature rather than cold from the fridge.

The great thing about this salad is its versatility. You can eat it straight from the fridge, you can heat it up, mix it into some chicken broth for soup, or you can toss it in a pan with some diced tomato and serve it over rice or pasta.

I am always looking for new delicious ways to serve your average household ingredients, and I'm quite pleased at how these three turned out. They're all colorful and pretty, tasty and interesting, and go well with all sorts of other summer fare. Now I just need to find a new way to serve a large quantity of leftover brats and hamburger buns and I'll be all set.

Emily is always up for a challenge in the kitchen and takes every opportunity she can find to feed people. you can read more at

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