Southern Wannabe Sides

Happy New Year! Hope you rang it in with loved ones and drank like you haven't since you were 19...erm, 21.

We lucked out in New England with some incredibly beautiful winter months, and in the last few days we're finally and sadly starting to be hit with full winter weather. To combat this freezing and dreary shit, we tried to comfort ourselves with some babyback ribs last night, and while my dad was responsible for those, I took on the responsibility of the sides. We haven't had real barbecue post-Celiac diagnosis, so making something at home felt like an opportunity to bring in some of the classic flavors. There was a bit of a problem though - the ribs were being dry-rubbed as I walked in the house, so I had one hour and only the ingredients already in the house. Challenge accepted!

I stayed in this hotel! Swear.

After writing the title I couldn't stop singing this in my head, so now you have to suffer/celebrate with me.

I ended up making a ridiculously simple side, a really easy side, and a surprisingly easy side. The ridiculously easy side was frozen sweet white corn kernels, which I microwaved and drained. Those were so easy but added such delicious sweetness - if I had more time I wanted to do a play on Chrissy Teigen's (LOVE HER btw) street corn salad, sauteing them after draining and adding some salty cheese and maybe avocado or other deliciousness. Alas, I decided to move on and spend time on the final side, so I won't spend any more time on the easiest piece.

The second side I made was a refreshing tomato salad. This was inspired by some heirloom tomato salad recipes I've seen lately, with vinegar and olive oil and s&p, and I added a little fun with some red onion slices. This took all of 3 minutes to prepare, and hung out with some plastic wrap in the fridge while I finished the real fun.

Which was...mac and cheese! In my world, barbecue is best served with some mashed potatoes, coleslaw and cornbread. But since we were low on supplies and time to find gluten-free cornbread recipes with the at-home ingredients, I decided to go with another family favorite. This mac and cheese took so little time to set up, and after cleaning the pot while it was in the oven I was left with absolutely zero pots or pans to clean. Big win right there.

Without further ado, here's how to put together three easy, gluten-free barbecue sides you can have on the table in under an hour with almost no work!

Serves: 5

Total Time: 1 hour (honestly probably only 40 minutes)


For the Corn

  • 1 bag frozen sweet white corn 
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter and salt to serve (optional)

For the Salad

  • 8-10 cocktail tomatoes
  • 1/8 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (I used white modena)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-3 grinds of black pepper

For the Mac and Cheese

  • 1 box gluten free pasta - I went for Barilla gluten free elbows
  • 2-3 cups shredded or grated cheese - I used a bag of shredded white cheddar with some pieces of Cabot cheese and a sprinkle of grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 2 grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Pour bag of sweet corn into microwave safe container, add water and cover,  heat in microwave for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, set a medium pot of water on high to boil.
  2. Wash and cut tomatoes into halves, then three or four pieces from each half (depending on size). Slice red onion into thin slices and add to bowl with tomatoes. Cover with olive oil, vinegar, sea salt and black pepper. Toss to coat and cover with plastic wrap, then leave in fridge until other ready to serve.
  3. Check on sweet corn in microwave, stirring and putting back in micro for another 3 minutes (or following instructions on the bag). Use cover to drain excess water from the container and let sit in micro until ready to serve. Add pasta to boiling water and cook as directed.
  4. Line a 8X8 pan with aluminum foil, then spray with vegetable oil spray - this will save you a whole pan's worth of cleaning (hands together or hands up emoji, your pick)! Drain pasta, and as it's sitting in the colander add butter, milk, and cheeses back on your burner but at medium-low heat. Stir to combine until you have a light sauce, adding in nutmeg and black pepper. Pour pasta in pot and stir to thoroughly combine, tasting to determine what other flavors/how much more cheese you need.
  5. Pour pasta mixture into lined pan and add breadcrumbs to top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tops start to brown - my picture could have used a few more minutes but everything else was ready and we were about to get hangry!
  6. Microwave corn for another 20-30 seconds if necessary, give your tomato salad a little stir to reincorporate everything and taste test because why not, and serve!

Our ribs were delicious if a tad bit overcooked, but for a first time learning experience for all parties involved in this home cooking challenge I'd call this a big success!

What's your favorite barbecue to cook at home? Any other gluten free sides I need to try?