When it comes to curating the perfect spread for the Fourth of July, there are a few expected classics, like burgers and juicy chunks of watermelon. But it’s the unexpected dishes that inevitably steal the show. Part totally creative, part why didn’t I think of that, a show-stopping Independence Day dish is festive, flavorful, and a bit of a wild card.
Want some inspiration? Here, three Well+Good Wellness Council members share the dish they serve on July 4th that’s always a hit.
3 healthy recipes for July 4th, straight from food experts
Lily Kunin’s summer squash noodles
“I absolutely love these easy summer squash noodles as a side to grilled meats and veggies at a summer barbecue,” health coach and Clean Market owner Lily Kunin says. “It comes together in minutes, and lets the best ingredients of the season shine through. It is also a great way to work through all the summer squash in my CSA!”
4 summer squash, spiralized
1 pint of yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ears of corn, cooked and sliced off the cob
Small handful of mint, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
4 cloves of roasted garlic
Freshly ground pepper
1. Whisk together the roasted garlic, olive oil, and lemon. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large bowl, toss the dressing with the squash, tomatoes, corn, and half of the mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining mint before serving.
Kimberly Synder’s gluten-free pasta with avocado pesto
Celebrity nutritionist and Recipes For Your Perfectly Imperfect Life author Kimberly Snyder also makes a noodle dish for the 4th. (Not only is pasta salad relatively inexpensive to make for a crowd, it’s a classic summer cookout hit.) “This dish is the perfect 4th of July dish as it will leave you feeling energized, not bloated, for this super fun holiday,” Snyder says. “It contains healthy fats, B vitamins and protein from the avocados and nutritional yeast in the delicious sauce, is properly food combined and easy to digest.”
1 (12 oz) package of gluten-free pasta, cooked according to the package instructions
2 rip tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chives
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 large avocado, pitted
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. In a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine the basil, nutritional yeast, avocado, oil, sea salt, and pepper and process until mixed, retaining some texture.
2. Toss with the freshly cooked (and ideally still warm) pasta and top with tomatoes and parsley.
McKel Hill’s lemony chickpea salad
Registered dietitian McKel Hill, RD, has a beloved Independence Day salad starring chickpeas. “It’s really great to share with multiple people, super simple to prepare, offers a healthy alternative to more traditional BBQ sides and salads, and can be enjoyed at room temp, she says of why she loves it. Plus, how pretty is it?!
2 15-oz. canned organic chickpeas (water discarded and well-rinsed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 medium-sized shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl and whisk until combined. Stir in diced shallots, minced garlic, parsley, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the chickpeas are coated with the lemon and olive oil mixture. Taste test and adjust any seasonings as desired.
For more July 4th tips, check out this guide on how to grill you greens and these top-rated veggie burgers.