There’s no need for Southern food to be deep-fried and heavy; like all good regional cuisines, it relies on fresh seasonal foods and a deft hand at seasoning. All of these delicious recipes are made for healthy eating, so you can enjoy the soulful flavors of Southern cooking as part of a nutritious meal.
Here’s a fun way to serve oven-fried chicken for a picnic: put it on a stick. It’s fabulous served with this homemade Vidalia onion and honey-mustard sauce. This is an easy recipe to double if you’re serving a crowd.
Fresh wedges of tomato, thinly sliced onion and sliced cucumber dressed simply with vinegar and oil makes the most simple salad possible—think of it as the Southern counterpart to the classic Italian tomato-and-mozzarella salad. It is best enjoyed at the height of summer, when tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh from the garden.
Redeye gravy is a Southerner’s trick of using coffee to make a quick pan gravy from the drippings that remain in the pan after frying ham steaks. In this lightened version we use lean turkey breast cutlets breaded and “fried” in a little canola oil, with just a bit of bacon for flavor in the gravy. Recipe by Joyce Hendley for EatingWell.
This summer salad is based on the Southern favorite, succotash, and is a fresh-tasting combination of butter beans, corn, summer squash and tomatoes. Butter beans, the same species as lima beans, are the bean of choice in the South. When they’re in season you may be able to find them fresh—shell them yourself. Or use frozen butter beans, baby lima beans or even edamame.
This twist on the Louisiana favorite piles grilled shrimp and creamy-dressed cabbage onto a crusty bun. Bread that’s soft on the inside and crusty on the outside is perfect for a Po’ Boy sandwich. We grill both sides of a whole-wheat bun for that added crunch. You may need a few extra napkins to enjoy it, but this quick and easy sandwich is well worth it.
Purchased Cajun or Creole seasoning flavors both the catfish and vegetables in this 30-minute dinner. This dish is best with fresh vegetables, but we were pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out with frozen okra and corn.