Dean serves up 3 summer side dishes

Cooking with Dean

WGN Entertainment Critic Dean Richards puts on his chef’s hat to cook up some cool side dishes to enjoy during Chicago’s heat wave.

Roasted Corn-Feta-Dill Salad


5 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed

1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup diced green pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped (dry dill will also work)

1/2 cup diced celery

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

(optional)  1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce


In a small bowl, whisk 4 teaspoons oil, lime juice, salt and (optional) pepper sauce; set aside.

If fresh,  roast corn on grill under golden brown/charred.  If frozen, cook and stir corn in skillet with remaining oil over medium-high heat until tender. Transfer to a salad bowl; cool slightly. Add the dill, tomatoes, green pepper, onion and celery. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving or refrigerate until chilled. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.

Tomato & Tortellini Caprese Skewers


1 (9-oz.) package refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini

2 cups halved grape tomatoes

2 (8-oz.) containers fresh small mozzarella cheese balls

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

30 (6-inch) wooden skewers


Prepare tortellini according to package directions. Rinse under cold running water.

Thread 1 tomato half, 1 cheese ball, another tomato half, and 1 tortellini onto each skewer. Place skewers in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Pour Newman’s Own Parmesan Garlic Dressing (or homemade vinaigrette dressing) over skewers, turning to coat.  Cover and chill 2 hours. Transfer skewers to a serving platter, and sprinkle with grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Discard any remaining vinaigrette.

Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Salad


5 baby eggplants or 1 large, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices

2 zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices

4 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise

2 medium red potatoes, sliced into 1/8″ slices

(optional) 1/4 small red onion, chopped finely

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or more to taste


Coat grates of a gas grill or grill pan with oil. Set grill to medium high heat. Coat eggplant slices, tomato halves, zucchini, and potato if using, with oil on both sides, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill the vegetables on one side, tomato with the skin side down, with the cover down (indirect method ) about 5-7 minutes, or until grill marks form. Remove the tomato from the grill.

Flip the rest of the vegetables and cook on the other side for about 5 more minutes or until cooked through. Make sure potatoes are soft (they take longer to cook.)

Cool a few minutes and cut into smaller pieces, if desired, or leave large.

Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil.  Then with balsamic vinegar and mix gently.

Place on a platter to serve. This salad can be chilled for up to 2 hours before serving.


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