Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Olives

July4cover

Make this fabulous BBQ sauce a day or two before the holiday and it can be used on anything you decide to grill. It is especially good on ribs, pork chops and chicken. I usually make a combination of some pork chops and some chicken because that is best for a crowd. Don’t forget plenty of vegetables to grill for your vegetarian friends. This sauce is great on veggies as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon regular chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire, dry mustard, cayenne, allspice and 1/4 cup water and mix to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.

Baste the meat with some sauce during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Transfer meat to a platter and baste again with more sauce.

July4pork

If you choose pork chops:

8 bone-in pork chops (about 8 ounces each and 1-inch thick). Grill pork chops until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

July4chicken

If you choose chicken:

Bone-in Breast, Leg & Thigh 12-15 minutes per side.

July 4appetizer

Peach and Prosciutto Bruschetta Appetizer

The cheese mixture can be prepared in advance. Do not assemble the bruschetta until just before serving, otherwise the peaches will turn brown and the bread will lose its freshness.

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (6-ounce) baguette, cut diagonally into 16 slices
  • Olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 ounce regular or reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 large ripe peach, cut into 16 wedges
  • 1 ounce Italian prosciutto, cut into 16 thin slices

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill to high. Oil the grates.

Lightly coat bread slices with olive oil; grill 2 minutes on each side or until toasted.

Combine mascarpone and next 3 ingredients (through cream cheese) in a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Spread cheese mixture evenly on the toasted bread slices.

Wrap each peach wedge with 1 prosciutto slice. Top each bread slice with 1 wrapped peach wedge.Arrange bruschetta on a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining chopped basil.

Serve immediately.

July4potatoes

Lemony Green Bean Potato Salad

This type of potato salad goes well with the rich BBQ sauce used on the meat. It can also handle the July heat much better than mayonnaise dressed salads.

12 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

Directions

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Add the green beans to the pot during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, herbs, vinegar, lemon peel, salt and pepper in a measuring cup or small bowl.

Drain potatoes and green beans. Place in a serving bowl; add onion and pour the lemon dressing over the potatoes; toss to coat.

Chill in the refrigerator until serving time.

July4 tomato

Mediterranean Tomato Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Kalamata  olives, pitted and sliced

Directions

Alternate tomatoes and onion on an attractive serving platter.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, basil and oregano together; drizzle over the vegetables. Top with the sliced olives and then the cheese. Serve at room temperature.

July4cake

Blueberry Shortcakes

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

.Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; cook 3 minutes or until berries begin to pop, stirring frequently. Set aside.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor; pulse 3 times to combine.

Add butter and lemon zest to the processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Place mixture in a large bowl; add milk, stirring just until moist. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into an even rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut dough into 8 even wedges.

Place wedges one inch apart on a baking sheet. Combine egg white and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Lightly brush the tops of the wedges with the egg white mixture; sprinkle evenly with sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Place cream in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

Split shortcakes in half horizontally; spoon 1/3 cup berry mixture over each bottom half. Top each with 2 tablespoons whipped cream; cover with shortcake tops and serve.


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The delicate flavor, soft shell and creamy white flesh of summer squash is a perfect addition to any summer meal. Summer squashes are relatives of melons and cucumbers and come in many different varieties. While each variety may have a distinct shape, color, size and flavor, all varieties share some common characteristics. All parts of summer squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds and skin. Some varieties of squash also produce edible flowers. Unlike winter squash, summer squash are more fragile and cannot be stored for long periods of time.

When purchasing summer squash, look for ones that are heavy for their size and have shiny, unblemished rinds. Additionally, the rinds should not be very hard since this indicates that the squash are over-mature and will have hard seeds and stringy flesh. Purchase summer squash that are of average size since those that are overly large may be fibrous, while those that are small may be inferior in flavor.

Summer squash is very fragile and should be handled with care as small punctures will quickly lead to decay. They should be stored unwashed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for a week.

The three most common varieties of summer squash are zucchini, yellow crookneck and straightneck squash and pattypan.

squashgreen
The plain green zucchini is a prolific producer and the most popular summer squash in the US. There are many varieties and colors of zucchini, including two-toned green zucchini with raised ribs that make star shapes when sliced. Baby zucchini (2-3 inches) are also sold as a delicacy, sometimes with the blossoms still attached.

squashyellow
Yellow Squash are solid light yellow. Some varieties have bumps or warts and others are shaped like small bowling pins.

squashpattypan
Pattypan squash are like little flying saucers with scalloped edges. They have a delicious, nutty crunch and are great sliced in half and grilled, or stuffed or chopped and sautéed quickly with fresh herbs.

Since summer squash is in season now and quite reasonably priced, pick some up on your next trip to the market and make some of the Italian flavored recipes below.

squash1

Summer Squash Salad

Ricotta salata cheese is a variation of ricotta that has been pressed, salted and dried.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 thin slices prosciutto (1 ounce), chopped
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled ricotta salata or feta cheese

Directions

Shave the zucchini and squash into thin strips using a vegetable peeler. Discard seeds.

Place zucchini and squash in a medium bowl and toss with the salt.

Combine basil and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

Pour over the squash and toss.

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto; saute for 2 minutes or until crisp.

Divide the salad among 4 serving plates. Top each serving with cheese and prosciutto.

squash2

Lemony Squash Risotto

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 (8-ounce) zucchini, halved lengthwise and diced
  • 2 (8-ounce) yellow squash, halved lengthwise and diced
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to pan; swirl to coat.

Add the diced squash to the pan; cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 3 minutes or until tender.

Stir in rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook until liquid is absorbed (about 30 seconds), stirring constantly.

Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

Reserve 1/4 cup broth. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total).

Stir in squash; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in reserved 1/4 cup broth and remaining ingredients. Garnish with chopped chives.

squash3

Zucchini Cakes with Spicy Marinara Sauce

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Spicy Marinara Sauce, recipe below
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Drain shredded zucchini and onion on paper towels to remove excess moisture. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl; stir in panko.

Whisk together egg, salt and baking powder in a small bowl; stir into the zucchini mixture.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, drop mounds of zucchini batter into the skillet using a 1/3-cup measure.

Fry cakes until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cakes to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Serve zucchini cakes with the spicy marinara sauce garnished with Parmesan and chopped parsley.

Spicy Quick Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste

Directions

Sauté onion and bell pepper in oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic; cook for 1 minute.

Stir in wine, tomatoes, vinegar and hot pepper flakes. Simmer sauce for 5 minutes; season with salt. Keep sauce warm until ready to serve.

squash4

Mediterranean Summer Squash Gratin

Ingredients

  • 2 onions halved and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced, fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil  
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 pounds yellow squash sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Toss zucchini and yellow squash with 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Let rest 30 minutes. Drain in a colander. Arrange zucchini and yellow squash on a triple layer of paper towels, then cover with another triple layer of paper towels. Press slices firmly to remove as much liquid as possible.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine and cook until evaporated, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in olives and basil; set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 450°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine panko, Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Evenly coat the bottom of the baking dish with 6 tablespoons of the panko mixture.

Stir melted butter into the remaining panko mixture and mix until well combined; set aside.

Arrange half of the squash over the bottom of the prepared dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup panko mixture evenly over the squash. Spread onion mixture in an even layer over the crumbs.

Arrange remaining half of the squash over the onion mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until just tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from oven and sprinkle remaining panko mixture evenly over the top. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling around the edges and the crumbs are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

squash5

Italian Sausage Stuffed Pattypan Squash

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium pattypan squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound Italian pork sausage, casings removed
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 medium to large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Fit a large pot with a steamer basket; add water just up to the basket and bring to a boil. Add pattypan squash, cover, and steam until tender, about 10 minutes.

Let squash cool to the touch. Trim the stems and cut each squash in half crosswise.

Using a spoon, hollow out the inside and set the pulp aside. Place squash halves in a baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.

Add sausage and cook until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add tomato paste, fresh tomato, squash pulp and wine. Simmer until liquid has reduced, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in bread crumbs and parsley.

Fill squash halves with the meat mixture. Top each with shredded Parmesan. Bake until heated through and cheese has melted, about 20 minutes.


burgercover

The key to making a delicious burger is to keep things simple. Many failed burgers are the result of overcomplicating the process. If you start with good-quality ingredients and apply basic grilling techniques, then you really don’t need to do much to turn out a delicious burger. Use high-quality ground meat (go for grass-fed beef, if you can; it has more flavor) that has some fat content (80 to 20 ratio of lean-to fat), which is needed to keep the burger moist and to enhance its flavor. Handle and cook the burgers with care. Other types of ground meat, particularly lean meats, like chicken or turkey, may need a few extra ingredients to achieve the same results.

When you’re forming burger patties, be gentle with your ground meat mixture. If you pack the meat too tightly, the density will make the patty seem tough. Form the burger into a round that is the same size as your bun (it will shrink as it cooks) and then very gently press the middle of the patty to form a small dent — this helps the patty retain an even thickness during the cooking process.

Salt can draw moisture out of the meat mixture, so don’t add it to the ground meat. Instead, season both sides of a burger just before cooking.

Medium heat is best when it comes to burgers; if you cook your burger at too high a temperature, it can cook unevenly.

Don’t be tempted to press on the burgers as they cook (since they won’t puff up as much in the center) and turn the burgers gently as they cook, so you don’t lose meat juices and flavor.

Here are some burger recipes to suit all tastes.burger1

The Perfect Burger

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • Oil for the grill
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground grass-fed beef (80-85 percent lean)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 slices sharp white cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 4 sandwich rolls or buns
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 slices
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, cut into 1/4-inch rings
  • 4 lettuce leaves, such as green-leaf, Boston or romaine
  • Ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard

Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high; brush grates with oil.

Gently form beef into four 1-inch-thick patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Make an indentation in the top of each patty. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.

Grill burgers 3 minutes. Turn, top with cheese, and grill 3 minutes for medium-rare.

Toast rolls face-down on the grill until just lightly browned, about 30 seconds.

Sandwich burgers in rolls with tomato, onion, lettuce and condiments.

burger6

Chicken Burgers

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 toasted hamburger buns
  • Lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, for serving

Directions

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add onion, bell pepper and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; cool to room temperature.

Add chicken to vegetable mixture in the bowl. Mix to combine. Shape mixture into four 4-inch-wide patties. Brush burgers with remaining oil and sprinkle the burgers with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the grill.

Grill burgers until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Place chicken burgers on buns and top with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise or sauce of choice.

burger3

Pork Burgers

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 4 toasted buns

Directions

Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the grill. In a bowl, mix pork with fennel seeds. Form into 4 patties.

On a large piece of foil, combine oil, peppers and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Fold foil around the vegetables and crimp ends. Grill the foil packet until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.

Season patties with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.

In a medium bowl, mix the vegetables with vinegar. Top each patty with vegetables and a slice of mozzarella. Cover grill and cook until cheese is bubbling, about 1 minutes.

Serve burgers on toasted buns.

burger4

Tuna Burgers

6 burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh center-cut tuna
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 anchovy fillet, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled to remove strings and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 6 buns
  • Condiments of choice: cheese, horseradish sauce, etc.

Directions

Cut tuna into 1/4-inch chunks with a very sharp knife, trimming away any dark parts. Coarsely chop tuna by hand until it begins to hold together. Transfer to a bowl over a bowl of ice.

Add garlic, olive oil, sesame oil, anchovy, basil, celery, ginger, salt and pepper; combine well. Chill for up to 6 hours until ready to cook.

Heat grill to medium high and oil the grill grates. Form tuna into 6 patties and place on the grill,  4 minutes per side for rare to 7 or 8 for well done.

Serve with arugula on toasted buns brushed with mayonnaise or other condiments.

burger2

Mediterranean Lamb Burgers

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Kalamata olives, chopped

Directions

Heat a grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grill grates. In a medium bowl, mix lamb, cumin and coriander. Form into 4 patties.

Coat the burgers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Serve burgers on buns with crumbled feta cheese and chopped olives.

burger5

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

These burgers are great if you are cooking for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The meat burgers can go on one side of the grill and the bean burgers on foil can go on the other side of the grill. In order to keep veggie burgers from falling apart on the grill, make sure all the ingredients in the burger are thoroughly dry before combining them.

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • Olive oil

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil.

Dry black beans well on paper towels. In a medium bowl, mash the black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.

In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion and garlic. Place on paper towels to dry well.

Then stir into the mashed beans.

.In a small bowl, stir together the egg, chili powder, cumin and hot sauce.

Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in the bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
.
Place patties on oiled foil and grill about 8 minutes on each side.

'Mom slipped a healthy one in so it's kind of like playing hot dog roulette.'


basilcover

I always grow way too much basil. As soon as the weather is hot, these plants grow like weeds. I don’t like to see the leaves turn brown and wither, so I am constantly thinking of ways to use this wonderful scented herb. Of course, there is always basil pesto in my refrigerator or freezer, of which I make plenty. It is wonderful in the winter on spaghetti. But just using basil for pesto all summer gets boring.

Basil is the perfect complement to tomatoes, olives, olive oil, capers, garlic, cheese and summer vegetables. Serve it slivered over thick tomato slices with a drizzle of olive oil or serve it sandwiched between thick slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh tomato with a sprinkling of pine nuts, capers and a drizzle of olive oil.

Here are some of the ways I try to make use of this flavorful herb.

basil5

Fresh Tomato and Basil Dressing

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Serve this light dressing over a fresh green salad with a slice of warm garlic bread on the side.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

basil1

Tomato, Watermelon and Basil Appetizer

:6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) watermelon, cut into 32 (1 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 32 small basil leaves (or torn larger leaves)
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 16 (6-inch) skewers

Directions

Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

Starting with the watermelon squares, push the watermelon to the very tip of the skewer, then skewer a basil leaf; then a tomato half. Continue with another watermelon, basil leaf and tomato half. Place the skewer on a serving platter so it stands upright, using the lowest watermelon square as a base. Continue with the remaining skewers.

Drizzle the skewers with the reserved balsamic syrup and the olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve.

basil9

 

Chilled Basil Melon Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chopped honeydew
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, plus more to taste

Directions

Put all the ingredients in a blender and purée, stirring often, until very smooth. Transfer to bowls and serve. Alternately, transfer to a container, cover and chill before serving.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Basil, Olives, and Fresh MozzarellaSpaghetti with Tomatoes, Basil, Olives and Fresh Mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, halved
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 6), chopped
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped fresh basil

Directions

In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes with the mozzarella, basil, olives, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until just al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain, add to the tomato mixture and toss.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour the oil over the pasta and toss again. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

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Brown Rice Salad

This salad makes an excellent side to grilled fish or meat.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked long-grained brown rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped seedless cucumber
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup frozen and thawed peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a jar. Shake vigorously. 

Put the cooked rice and vegetables into a large serving bowl and toss gently to combine. Add the dressing and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.

basil7

Steak with Italian Salsa Verde

Serves 4 to 6

You’ll have some salsa verde left over, so enjoy it on chicken, fish or vegetables as well as the beef in this recipe. This is a sauce you will want to have on hand, so I would even double the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 anchovy fillet, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak
  • 5 cups baby field greens

Directions

In a food processor, purée the parsley, basil, garlic, capers and the anchovy fillet. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, pulsing until completely combined. Add lime juice and pepper. Process until blended and the sauce is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. The anchovy will contribute salt, so additional salt may not be needed. Set sauce aside.

Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill, broil or pan fry to your liking. Slice it thinly and drizzle with salsa verde. Serve over greens.

basil6

Lemon Basil Sherbet

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Juice of 3 lemons, chilled
  • Pinch fine sea salt

Directions

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the half-and-half, sugar, honey and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and add 4 whole basil leaves. Using the back of a large spoon or ladle, bruise the basil leaves against the bottom of the pot. Cover and let steep 15 minutes.

Remove the basil leaves and discard, then whisk in the milk. Place the mixture in an ice-water bath or refrigerate until completely chilled.

Slice the remaining 4 basil leaves in very thin strips. Whisk the lemon juice into the chilled sherbet base, add the sea salt and stir in the sliced basil. Taste for sweetness; adjust by adding an additional tablespoon or two of honey, if needed.

Freeze the sherbet mixture in an ice-cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions. For optimal flavor and texture, freeze the sherbet for a couple of hours before serving.

 


summerpizzacover

Pizza is a very adaptable dish that works with any seasonal ingredients.

In winter, I usually make a pizza sauce that is similar to my pasta sauce for our Friday night pizza. In the summer, however, I like to take advantage of being able to use fresh tomatoes and other fresh vegetables on my pizzas. Our favorite summer pizza is a simple one topped with sliced fresh cherry tomatoes, basil pesto and mozzarella cheese.

The best tasting pizza crust is made the day before you want to use it. Here is an easy no-knead recipe that is adaptable to any shape or even for grilling.

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Makes two 16-inch pizza crusts

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose, more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (such as SAF brand)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cups water

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot.

The next day, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and divide the dough into 2 pieces.

Shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough balls with it. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Stretch the dough to the edges of the pizza pan or roll the dough into the desired shape.

summerpizza

Farmers’ Market Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the pan
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, see recipe above
  • 5 ounces thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Position an oven rack in the next to lowest setting.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and then the onion and thyme; cook for 3 minutes or until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

Add bell pepper and garlic to the pan; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn, salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Arrange mozzarella slices evenly over the dough. Spread the corn mixture evenly over the cheese and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Bake 15 minutes. Arrange tomatoes evenly over the pizza; bake an additional 5 minutes or until the crust is browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil. Slice into 8 pieces.

summerpizza1

Summer Squash Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces fresh feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 zucchini and/or yellow squash
  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • Coarse salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place pizza dough on an oiled baking pan and stretch dough to form an oblong crust, about 15 inches long and 11 inches wide.

Brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with garlic and dot with feta cheese.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel wide, thin strips of squash and place them on the pizza; stop when most of the pizza is covered (do not put too much squash on the pizza or the crust will become soggy).

Bake until the crust is browned and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the baked pizza with oregano leaves and coarse salt. Cut into squares and serve.

summerpizza2

Salad Pizza 

Ingredients

  • 7 cups mixed lettuces (red leaf, leaf, radicchio) or mesclun
  • 1/4 of a red onion, sliced
  • 5 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and cubed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 8 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Optional Garnishes: prosciutto, roasted red peppers, olives, anchovies

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuces, onion and tomatoes. Set aside or prep several hours ahead and refrigerate.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the crust up to the border and return the pizza to the oven just until the cheese begins to melt.

Allow the pizza to cool for 10 minutes.

Toss the salad with the dressing. Cut the pizza into wedges. Serve a wedge on a large plate. Top with salad and sprinkle the greens with grated Parmesan.

Top the pizza with any of the other optional garnishes and serve.

summerpizza4

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the pizza pan
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine olive oil and the sliced garlic in a large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to sizzle. Add the spinach and sauté 1-2 minutes or just until the spinach wilts.

Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Combine ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses in a mixing bowl.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Spread the combined cheese mixture over the crust and evenly distribute the spinach over the cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly brown.

summerpizza5

Pizza with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound pizza dough at room temperature, see recipe above
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Cut tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and let them rest on paper towels for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Arrange mozzarella slices evenly over the dough.

Spread pesto over the cheese and arrange the tomato slices over the pesto.

Bake for 20 minutes.


dinnerideacover

Are you bored from eating the same things for dinner week after week? One of the best ways to add variety and interest to your meals is to experiment with ingredients you haven’t used before or use your favorites in a new way. Add different seasonings and herbs to change your old recipes. Try new combinations of ingredients. Hopefully, the recipes below will inspire you.

dinneridea1

Mediterranean-Style Snapper

Serve this entrée with cooked orzo pasta or couscous and sautéed green beans.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 small cloves garlic
  • Half of a 6 1/2 ounce jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup pitted mixed green olives
  • Four 5 ounce red snapper fillets with skin or other firm-flesh white fish
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • 8 whole Pepperoncini (Italian pickled peppers)

Directions

Peel the garlic cloves and with the side of a wide knife smash garlic.

Drain 2 tablespoons of oil from the sun dried tomatoes and heat the oil in extra-large skillet.

Add sun dried tomatoes, olives and garlic to the hot oil. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until garlic is golden. Use a slotted spoon to the remove the tomato-olive mixture. Leave the oil in the skillet to cook the fish. Set aside the tomato-olive mixture.

Rinse and pat fish dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Cook fish, skin side down, in the hot oil 5 minutes for each 1/2 inch thickness of fish or until the skin is golden and crisp and the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, turning once halfway through cooking. Remove skin, if desired.

To serve, top fish with tomato-olive mixture, cheese, chopped fresh oregano and pepperoncini.

dinnerideas2

Spicy Grilled Steak & Sweet Potatoes

Cook the sweet potatoes and onions in a foil packet alongside the steak on the grill. Serve with steamed fresh spinach.

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces sirloin, rib-eye or strip steak, trimmed and cut into 2 portions
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat grill to high and oil the grates.

Combine allspice, cumin, ginger, salt, cinnamon, coriander and cayenne in a medium bowl. Remove 2 1/4 teaspoons for the steak.

Sprinkle the steaks with 2 1/4 teaspoons of the spice mixture.

Add the sliced sweet potato and onion to the bowl with the remaining spice mixture along with the oil and orange zest; toss to coat.

Place two 24-inch sheets of foil on top of each other (the double layers will help protect the ingredients from burning). Generously coat the top piece with cooking spray.

Spread the sweet potato mixture in the center of the foil in a thin layer. Bring the short ends of foil together, fold over and pinch to seal. Pinch the seams together along the sides to seal the packet.

Place the packet on one side of the grill and cook, turning once, about 6 minutes per side.

Cook the steaks on the other side of the grill, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to serving plates and let rest while the foil packets finish cooking.

Open the packets (be careful of steam) and serve alongside the steaks with steamed spinach.

dinneridea3

Linguine with Tomatoes, Zucchini and Herbs

Serve this dish with a mixed green salad and crusty Italian bread.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 small red chili pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces linguine
  • 3 young, thin zucchini, sliced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes with the basil, parsley, garlic, salt, chili and olive oil.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the linguine until al dente; drain well.

Add the linguine to the bowl with the tomato mixture along with the sliced zucchini and toss.

Add the 1/4 cup of grated cheese, toss again and serve in pasta bowls, passing more cheese at the table.

dinneridea6

Lemony Chicken with Cucumber Salad

Serve this dish with warm pita bread

2 servings

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 medium tomatoes; chopped
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken:

  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for cooking
  • 3 garlic cloves; minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the salad

Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, honey and dill in a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese. Toss gently, season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes or up to a day.

For the chicken:

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Use the back of a small spoon to press garlic and dill into the other ingredients.

Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag or small rimmed dish and add the chicken. Marinate 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium frying pan (with lid) over medium-high heat. As soon as the oil is hot, add the chicken. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Turn, reduce heat to low, then cover the pan with the lid. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees F (74C) when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.

Transfer chicken to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Rest 5 minutes. Serve alongside the salad.

dinneridea4

Grilled Pork Kabobs

Serve this dish with your favorite coleslaw or use the recipe below.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

Heat a gas or charcoal grill and oil the grill grates.

In a 1-quart saucepan, heat marmalade, rosemary and salt to boiling, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; set aside.

In a 1-quart microwavable bowl, place sweet potato pieces and water. Cover loosely with a microwavable paper towel. Microwave on High 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once, just until potatoes are tender (do not overcook). Drain sweet potatoes and pat dry with a paper towel.

On each of eight 12 inch long metal skewers, carefully thread pork, sweet potatoes and zucchini, leaving 1/4-inch space between each piece.

Grill kabobs over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until the until pork is cooked., turning once and brushing with the marmalade glaze during the last 3 minutes.

dinneridea5

Easy Healthy Coleslaw

This coleslaw is very refreshing with BBQ foods. It keeps well, covered in the refrigerator and should be made several hours in advance to allow the flavors to develop and the cabbage to soften.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 16 ounce bag (about 6¼ cups) of supermarket shredded cabbage and carrot slaw

Directions

In a glass measuring cup, combine Greek yogurt, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Place slaw in a large bowl and pour the dressing mixture over the top. Stir to coat cabbage thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


dinnerfromgrill4

Whether you’re grilling vegetables, poultry, beef, pork or seafood, it only takes a little flavor to make everything taste good.

Dry Rubs

Dry rubs will add depth of flavor to your favorite grilled foods. They are great for tofu, fish, pork chops or ribs, chicken breasts and vegetables.

Prepared dry rubs already contain the right mix of flavors ranging from Asian to Mediterranean styles. Or mix your own rub and store in an airtight glass jar in a cool place.

Three to four tablespoons of spice rub should be enough for two pounds of food.

To apply a rub, sprinkle it over your choice of meat, poultry, fish or vegetable and lightly rub into the surface with your hands. Or place the rub in a large plastic bag with the meat and shake to coat. Then let the food sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

dinnerfromgrill5

Marinades

Marinades enhance flavor and can increase the tenderness of many types of meat, poultry, seafood and produce.

For best results:

Marinate seafood and vegetables for 20 minutes to develop flavor.

Marinate poultry for up to an hour for best results. For some cuts, longer than 1 hour may be too long and the poultry can either toughen or get mushy.

Beef and pork will benefit from 30-60 minutes of marinating, but can also be left to marinate overnight.

Experiment with flavor: try using wine, beer, fresh juice, spices, herbs or a combination.

Wait to brush on any sugar-based barbecue sauce or other ingredients until the final 5-10 minutes of grilling. This allows the charcoal flavor to penetrate the food first and prevents the sauce from becoming charred.

Check my recipes from last July on Rubs and Marinades For Your Summer Grilling.

GRILLING VEGGIES AND FRUITS

dinnerfromgrill04

Grilling intensifies the natural sweetness and flavor of most vegetables and fruits.

To achieve good results:

Use a light brushing of oil on vegetables and fruits to prevent sticking. A non-stick grate, grilling basket or foil packets, lightly coated with oil, can also be helpful.

Some vegetables (including artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, parsnips and potatoes) can be precooked to shorten grilling time and ensure that the inside and outside cook evenly.

To precook: Steam or blanch the vegetable until just barely tender. Pat dry, brush lightly with oil, then grill until completely tender and lightly browned.

Veggies like eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash and tomatoes should be raw when placed on the grill.

Ideal fruits for grilling should be firm and barely ripe. Watermelon, pineapple, apples, peaches and pears can all take the heat. Soak them in a marinade or drizzle with honey before grilling for added flavor.

Meaty portabella mushrooms are a great burger substitute, while button mushrooms are excellent for use in kabobs.

Cook all fruits and vegetables directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move them to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside isn’t cooking too quickly.

Grilled Caprese Appetizer

dinnerfromgrill9

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 (12-ounce) container fresh mozzarella, drained and cut into (1-inch) chunks
  • 1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into (1-inch) cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves

Directions

Brush the grill grates with oil and heat the grill to medium.

Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Alternating ingredients, thread tomatoes, mozzarella and bread onto 8 skewers and brush them all over with oil.

Grill skewers, turning once, just until the cheese starts to melt and the bread shows grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes total.

Transfer the skewers to a platter, drizzle with vinegar and garnish with basil.

dinnerfromgrill08

Grilled Zucchini with Olive Dressing

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olives
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Directions

Oil the grates and prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking.

In a blender or food processor, combine olives, vinegar, pepper, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt; blend until smooth and set aside.

Place zucchini in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Grill the zucchini on both sides until well-marked and tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Layer zucchini on a serving platter, drizzle each layer with some vinaigrette and sprinkling with some tomato. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

GRILLING SEAFOOD

dinnerfromgrill05

Quick-cooking seafood is a great choice for grilling, especially on busy weeknights. When grilling seafood take extra care not to overcook it.

When it comes to seasoning, it’s best to select lighter marinades and seasonings that do not mask the delicate flavor of the seafood.

Fish

Oil fish well to help keep it moist.

Fish cooks quickly using the direct heat method. Remove it from the grill as soon as it’s done; it will continue to cook once it has been removed from the fire.

Once you place fish on the grill, don’t touch it for at least three minutes. A crust needs to form on the outside, which will allow the fish to naturally pull away from the grates. Once the crust has formed, it can be turned over without sticking or falling apart.

Thin pieces of fish can be wrapped in foil and grilled.

Firm fish, such as swordfish and tuna, are ideal for cooking on the grill.

Placing fish on cedar planks when grilling imparts a subtle woodsy flavor. Try different woods for slightly different flavors. Soak the plank in water for at least an hour prior to grilling to prevent it from catching on fire. Most fish fillets will cook on a plank, without turning, in about 20 minutes.

Fish is naturally tender and should not sit in an acid-based marinade (like lemon juice) for longer than 20 minutes, or it will start to “cook” the fish, turning it mushy.

Shrimp

Choose jumbo varieties, which are easier to handle. These can also be butterflied (leave the tail intact when shelling, then slice along the back of the shrimp without cutting all the way through).

Shrimp should be marinated or brushed lightly with oil.

Cook shrimp just until they turn pink and opaque, about 5-7 minutes. Turn them halfway through cooking. Take care not to overcook shrimp or it will become tough.

Use an oiled grill basket or skewers to contain shrimp so they don’t slip between the grates.

Rosemary Salmon Kabobs

dinnerfromgrill7

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless wild caught salmon fillet, cut into large chunks
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (Meyer lemon, if possible)

Directions

Place salmon, zucchini, bell pepper and onion in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk together the garlic, rosemary, oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour mixture over the salmon and vegetables, toss and marinate for 30 minutes.

Oil the grates and preheat a grill for medium-high heat cooking. Skewer the salmon and vegetables, reserving the marinade. (If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes before assembling.)

Grill kabobs, turning once, until salmon is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. While the kabobs cook, boil the reserved marinade in a small saucepan for 5 minutes. Drizzle over the skewers just before serving.

dinnerfromgrill09

Grilled Shellfish and Vegetable Packets

 

Serves 4

Use any combination of shellfish and vegetables that appeal to you.

Ingredients

  • 8 small red potatoes, halved
  • 8 small (mini) bell peppers, cut in quarters
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 ears of corn on the cob, cut in fourths
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt
  • 16 small oysters, scrubbed or 16 shrimp, peeled
  • 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 16 large mussels, scrubbed
  • Chopped chives for garnish
  • Warm crusty bread, for serving

Directions

Heat a gas grill to high.

In a large bowl, drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt.

Tear off eight 16-by-18-inch pieces of heavy-duty foil. Layer the sheets in pairs. Divide the shellfish evenly among the four pairs of foil and drizzle with olive oil.

Arrange the vegetables over the shellfish and drizzle with more olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of water to each. Fold the foil tightly into neat rectangular packets.

Arrange the packets on the grill. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, rotating once or twice, until the packets are puffed and sizzling, about 25 minutes.

Carefully open the packets, watching out for the hot steam and garnish with chopped chives. Serve with the bread on the side.



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