Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer and a popular holiday for cookouts. People are ready to enjoy outdoor meals again after a long winter. So dust off your grill and let’s get ready to eat!
A great cookout starts with barbecue ribs. The key to amazing, fall-off-the-bone ribs is slow cooking them in the oven for a few hours before they touch the grill. With this method, you spend more time with your family and less time in the kitchen. Get them ready in about twenty minutes in the morning, then let them cook all afternoon while you relax by the pool, and just throw them on the grill when you’re ready to eat.
Easy Oven-Baked Ribs
2 slabs (approx. 2 lbs) baby back pork ribs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups barbecue sauce*
Remove the membrane from the baby back ribs. Place them in a baking or roasting pan, cutting them in half if needed to fit. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the topside of the ribs. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 250° for about 4 to 5 hours. You want them to be tender but still attached to the bone. When you are ready to finish the ribs, remove them from the oven and place them on a grill preheated to medium-high. Apply the barbecue sauce with a brush, turning the ribs only once or twice. They will only need about fifteen minutes on the grill and will start to fall off the bone when done.
*Barbecue sauce can contain a lot of sugar and unhealthy ingredients. If you want to try a lower calorie sauce that still packs a flavor punch, I recommend this tasty sauce from Skinnytaste.
Barbecue ribs can be served with almost any side you like, from corn and baked potatoes, to pasta salad and beans. When making something hearty like ribs, I usually like to add some lighter sides to the menu. Two of my favorite lighter cookout sides are cucumber and tomato salad and cucumbers and sour cream.
Cucumber & Tomato Salad
1 small red onion
1 seedless cucumber
4 roma tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
For this easy salad, you simply dice the onion, cucumber and tomato and combine it with chopped cilantro, salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Just toss them together and use the salad as a garnish for meats or as a side on its own.
Cucumbers & Sour Cream
2 large cucumbers
16 oz. light sour cream**
Peel the cucumbers and slice them very thin. Put them in a large bowl and liberally salt them. Add water to completely immerse the salted cucumbers. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours to give the salt water time to “pickle” the cucumbers a bit. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and drain the water out. You want to rinse the cucumbers, squeezing them lightly to remove any excess water. Place the wilted cucumbers into a clean bowl and mix the sour cream into them. You may not need the entire container of sour cream. You want just enough to make a nice coating on the cucumbers.
**I like Daisy Light Sour Cream. It’s a light sour cream that still tastes delicious with a creamy texture.
It’s important to cater to everyone’s taste when you have the whole family over for a cookout. I like to make the classics that everyone likes, but try to lighten them up so I feel better about what I’m feeding my family. Just substituting ingredients like light sour cream or low-fat cheese can really make a difference in the overall calorie count of your dinner. But it is a holiday, so make sure you enjoy what you are eating!