For most people, the main dishes for the Fourth of July are set long in advance, with hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue or steak being the most common choices.

For most people, the main dishes for the Fourth of July are set long in advance, with hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue or steak being the most common choices.

But every good Independence Day feast also needs delicious sweets and side dishes to fill out that meal. These are a few of my favorite cook-out staples with quick preparation times that will allow you to relax on Friday.

Every cook out needs a good pasta salad. One of the things that I love about this hummus pasta salad is that it has no mayonnaise in it. The hummus keeps it nice and light, which is always welcome when it’s hot outside. This recipe calls for marinated mozzarella, which can be found in the specialty cheese case at most grocery stores. What you’re looking for is a plastic container filled with little balls of mozzarella floating in olive oil and water.

The broccoli salad recipe I’m sharing is a family recipe. My Aunt Valarie has been making this dish for as long as I can remember and it’s delicious. I’m from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and I’ve noticed that up this way some broccoli salads have cheese in them. Normally, I put cheese in everything I make, but this is one application where I feel cheese does not belong. Everything in the salad is so crunchy and the dressing is a perfect mix of sour and sweet, cheese would only get in the way and throw off that balance. Also don’t be freaked out by the fact there are both raisins and bacon in this salad because they create a great salty-sweet combination.

The hot milk cake is another family recipe. This is the cake my mom always uses for strawberry short cake and I love it. It’s light, fluffy and incredibly delicious. Aside from that, it’s also incredibly simple. I hope these recipes help you have a simple, quick feast to serve up on Independence Day.

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Hummus Pasta Salad

1 pound rotini pasta

10 ounces plain hummus

12 ounces marinated mozzarella, quartered

Half of a cucumber, peeled and diced

2.25 ounce can sliced olives, drained

14.5 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half


Cook the pasta per the package’s instructions. When the pasta is done, drain it and then transfer it to a bowl. While it is still hot, stir in the hummus. Set the pasta aside for a bit and allow it to cool. Once the pasta is room temperature, toss in the mozzarella and veggies. Allow the pasta salad to chill for at least one hour. Serves 8.


Broccoli Salad

2 crowns fresh broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup slivered almonds

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 small onion, diced



1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cider vinegar


In a large bowl, mix the ingredients for the dressing. Toss the broccoli, raisins, almonds, bacon and onion in the dressing. Allow it to chill for one hour. Serves 8.


Hot Milk Cake

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

Pinch of salt

1 stick butter

1 cup milk

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 pint blueberries

1 pint strawberries, sliced


Melt butter into milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Beat eggs in a bowl. Add sugar and then flour sifted with baking powder and salt to the eggs. Add vanilla, and then milk and butter mixture, beating well. Bake in a lined and greased pan, either a layer or tube pan works. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top the cake with blueberries and strawberries. Serves 8.