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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Individuals of Italian extraction constitute one of the most important ethnic groups in West Virginia. These Italian-Americans date their connection with the state to ancestors who were recruited during the early years of the 20th century to work in West Virginia’s rapidly developing industrial economy. With more than 17,000 Italian immigrants in the state by 1910, they made up 30 percent of West Virginia’s foreign-born population. In fact, so many Italians had entered the state that for over a decade before the First World War, the Italian government maintained a consular office in northern West Virginia.

The majority of the Italian population were located in the northern part of the state, with Marion County leading the way, followed by Harrison, Tucker, Randolph, Preston and Monongalia. Significant clusters of Italians were also drawn to southern West Virginia. McDowell County, with 2,300, could boast the most Italian immigrants in the state in 1910, although the Fayette County communities of Boomer, Harewood, Longacre and Smithers constituted the greatest single concentration of Italians in the state. While immigrants were attracted to West Virginia from all over the Italian peninsula, the majority came from the southern regions of Campania, Calabria and Sicily.

The great majority of Italian immigrants were employed in the coal industry as pick-and-shovel miners. West Virginia mines were among the most mechanized in the US and miners born in America generally operated the new machines. They usually earned better pay than their foreign born counterparts, who were left with the hand tool work. Despite this disparity, West Virginia Italians were able to significantly improve their financial position. In part, the Italians achieved economic progress and acceptance by their work ethic. The records for coal production by hand tools are all apparently held by Italians. For instance, in 1924, Carmine Pellegrino of Rosemont mined 66 tons of coal in one 24-hour period and earned the nickname ‘‘sixty-six’’. Eleven years later, Dominic Pesca of Boomer mined by hand 48 tons of coal in one day and 52 tons the next at the Union Carbide mines at nearby Alloy. Italian miners in West Virginia also improved their economic position by self-sacrifice and frugality. Raising livestock and tending gardens kept down expenses and helped them save a great deal of their earnings. The U.S. Department of Labor noted that such Italian miners sent more money back to their home country than any other comparable group of immigrants.

Loading coal into horse drawn carts to be distributed to businesses or homes. (Image courtesy of Google Books)

Although large numbers were involved in digging coal, West Virginia’s Italians were an occupationally diverse group. Even in the coal camps, they often held a variety of jobs such as teamsters, carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, stonemasons or general laborers. In many areas, Italians were a vital part of the business community. The occupational diversity of Italians was especially notable in the northern part of the state where urban industrial settings were more common. For instance, historian William Klaus has written that Italians in Marion County were not just miners, but also worked in glass and other manufacturing establishments, on railroads, in skilled trades, on farms and in their own small businesses.

Historians have explored the significance of the high concentration of Italians in the work force of the Mountain State. As a result, we know they came mostly as an indirect result of wanting to work in the West Virginia coal industry. What emerges from this literature is that these immigrants were desperately poor individuals fleeing their old world peasant communities for a chance at a better life in America. Confused and unable to speak English, they were met at ports of entry by employment agents or representatives of private firms and whisked away to the mountains, where they had little idea of where they were or what they were going to do.

Dispersed without input to coal, lumber, transportation and construction companies, they were seemingly powerless to determine their own destiny. However, despite this background, they earned respect for their hard work and were seen as assimilating rather easily into the mountain culture. The purpose of this historical study was to take a first step at understanding the Italian experience in West Virginia. By focusing on the group of Italians who were drawn to Fayette County, the research attempted to move beyond the impact in which West Virginia’s culture and institutions had on such immigrants. Rather, the research aimed to determine how the Italians influenced the institutions and values of the southern West Virginia coal workers, in what was emerging as a critical period in the state’s mining history.

Italian Family 1929

A seam of coal, measuring between five and six feet thick, ran through the hills above the town of Boomer in Fayette County. This coal was first developed in 1896 by West Virginia merchant, William Masters. Boomer Coal and Coke operation became possible because of the extension of the Kanawha and Michigan Railroad. Completion of the K and M also aided W. R. Johnson in opening a mine in Harewood and Samuel Dixon in Longacre. By the spring of 1903, the Boomer Coal and Coke operations was purchased by Hocking Valley of Ohio. Since Boomer’s three mines were among the most productive in the district, their acquisition placed the Hocking Valley Corporation on the verge of a significant expansion in their capacity to produce coal.

Shortly after, the Boomer Coal and Coke Company began a vigorous campaign of attracting Italian immigrants as part of its workforce. The hostile labor relations atmosphere created by the Coal Strike of 1902 in West Virginia gave the recruitment of Italians and other foreign labor a sense of urgency. The work stoppage of West Virginia’s miners in the great Coal Strike of 1902 is historically pictured as a sympathy strike to support the anthracite miners in eastern Pennsylvania. However, in southern West Virginia the strike was basically about local issues. During this situation, the Boomer Coal and Coke Company did everything it could to keep the union out and keep its production going full strength. Among other things, it forbade meetings on its property and obtained restraining orders, forbidding any attempt at interference with the employment relationship at any of its operations.

File:W. Va. coal mine 1908.jpg

1908 West Virginia coal mine entrance

It became clear that Boomer Coal and Coke and the other Hocking properties decided that their expanding enterprises would depend essentially on immigrant labor, but it is not clear why these coal operations placed particular emphasis on recruiting Italians. It may have been as simple, as the fact, that there were so many of them available. On the other hand, the preference of Boomer Coal and the other Hocking operations for southern Italians may have had another source. It was well known that the vast majority of southern Italian immigrants were agricultural workers. However, anyone who conducted interviews with the Italians in the southern West Virginia coal fields, learned that a substantial number were not new to mining work. For example, Luigi Curatolo migrated from a Sicilian community where he and his brothers, Salvatore and Guiseppe, had entered the sulfur mines at the age of eight. These brothers, as had their father before them, expected to spend the rest of their lives in such mines. However, at the turn of the century, the ancient mines of Sicily were no longer profitable and eventual emigration to a place like West Virginia was an opportunity to do something that had a familiar feel to it.

KANAWHA COALFIELD

Whatever the reasons may have been for recruiting them, a steadily increasing stream of Italian immigrants flooded onto the properties of Boomer Coal and Coke and its sister companies. As more and more Italians made the trip to Boomer, they soon filled up the clusters of little houses the company built and the area became know as “little Italy.” In less than a decade there were over a thousand Italians in Boomer, making it the largest concentration of Italians relative to total population of any city in the state.

If Boomer Coal and Coke Company and the other Hocking Valley interests recruited so heavily among the Italians in the hope that these immigrants would constitute a more docile, controllable work force than their native West Virginia employees, who had caused so much trouble during the 1902 strike, they would soon be disillusioned. They would learn that Italians could respond aggressively and with remarkable solidarity to injustice. For example, in July, 1905, the foreman of a construction crew, working on a railroad grading crew in Fayette County, reprimanded an Italian laborer by knocking him down an embankment. The foreman’s actions incensed many of the Italian crew, who threw down their tools and grabbed rocks to throw at the foreman. The Italians were soon joined by workmen from other nearby railroad construction crews. A battle between the Italians and company men soon broke out. The Italians and their allies were winning until William Nelson Page, the owner of the area’s coal properties, got word of the trouble and sent law enforcement officers to break up the melee and arrest eleven of the instigators. 

While many Italian immigrants eventually left West Virginia, many others stayed and made a long lasting impact on the state and its institutions. Italian union members and organizers, such as Tony Stafford and Armando Folio, helped to make the Mountain State one of the most union-oriented states in the nation. West Virginia Catholicism and its ancillary institutions were strengthened considerably by the infusion of Italian parishioners. The continuing influence of Italians in West Virginia was symbolized by the growth of the yearly Italian festivals held in the state at Clarksburg and Wheeling in the north and Bluefield and Princeton in the southern part of the state. As late as 1970, Italians with at least one parent born in Italy constituted West Virginia’s second-largest ethnic group. By the third generation, Italians had moved into the center of political life in many parts of the state. In 2005, Joe Manchin became West Virginia’s first governor of Italian descent. His uncle, A. James Manchin, secretary of state and treasurer, had preceded him as one of the state’s most popular politicians.

West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival

The first West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival was first held in downtown Clarksburg in 1979. The idea was proposed by the librarian at the Clarksburg Harrison Public Library and a board of directors was formed, consisting mostly of prominent citizens of Italian descent. A parade, street concerts, authentic Italian food, cultural events (including art shows and opera), crafts, sports (bocce, morra and golf) and the crowning of a festival queen were all part of the first Italian Heritage Festival and continued in later festivals.The West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival is held each Labor Day weekend beginning on Friday and concluding on Sunday.

Sources: http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/924 and http://muwww-new.marshall.edu/csega/research/minewars.pdf

The Food of West Virginia Italians

The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll

As the story goes… Italian miners, like most miners, needed something non-perishable and easily portable to pack into their lunch pails (or pants pockets) as they often worked very long hours, so lunch frequently consisted of a piece of bread and a couple of pieces of cured meat. It wasn’t long before an entrepreneurial miner in Fairmont, W.V., Frank Agiro, decided to experiment with baking a couple of bits of salumi inside a yeast roll and, thus, the pepperoni roll was born. Not soon after, Agiro put down his pick ax and opened the now famous Country Club Bakery, which is still in operation today.

Like its cousin, the pizza, a pepperoni roll varies greatly in taste and quality and ranges from: flour-dusted, brownie-size rolls stuffed with sliced pepperoni and sold by the dozen in bread bags at gas stations; to individually wrapped rolls as big as an overstuffed burrito with pepperoni sticks in the middle sold at Mountaineer Field, home of West Virginia University’s football team; to heated rolls, split open and topped with cheese and tomato sauce, such as those served at Colosessano’s in Fairmont.

Sticks versus slices are probably the biggest dividers among bakers–sticks are definitively the purist’s take. You’ll also find some hackles raised over the matter of cheese. To add or not!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg
  • One 6-ounce stick pepperoni, cut into 4 logs and each split in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella

Directions:

In a small saucepan, gently heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted. The milk should be just a little hotter than warm, between 100 and 115 degrees F, but not over 115 degrees F. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the sugar, salt and yeast. Let the mixture sit until the yeast is activated and foam covers the top, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the center. Crack the egg into the middle and pour in the yeast liquid. Make the dough by mixing all ingredients together with a rubber spatula. Make sure all ingredients are incorporated; the dough will be sticky and loose. Leave the dough in the center of the bowl when it is fully incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Remove the plastic and gently re-knead the dough while still in the bowl. Form into a ball, as best you can, and cover with plastic wrap. This time allow to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

After the second rise, remove the dough to a very generously floured surface, kneading to bring together. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, about 3 1/2 ounces each. Gently form each piece of dough into balls, incorporating more flour as needed. Use your hands to flatten each ball to a 4 1/2-inch circle. Brush a piece of pepperoni with oil and place in the center of the circle, along with 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella. Fold the dough over the pepperoni, like a burrito, and place on a parchment-covered baking sheet seam side down.

Repeat with the remaining pepperoni and cheese. As you place each pepperoni roll on the sheet tray, leave at least 1 inch around each roll to allow for a third rise (therefore you will need 2 baking sheets). Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 30 minutes. The rolls will puff up just a bit.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining oil and bake in the oven 30 to 35 minutes. The rolls will have a rich golden color and crispy crust.

Note: This dough is very wet dough. Use a rubber spatula when incorporating flour into the dough. Make sure to always flour your hands and the surface you are working on when working with the dough.

Tiella

The dish is very popular among Italians in North Central West Virginia and a great way to use up fresh summer vegetables. Supposedly, the word “tiella” (like so many Italian recipes) means pan. A vegetarian version can also be made by omitting the meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 large can tomato sauce (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 parboiled potatoes, peeled and sliced (if using red potatoes, leave the skin on)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced same size as the potatoes
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil and parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Brown the meat in a skillet. Pour tomato sauce and water over meat mixture and let simmer about 15-20 min. In another pan saute the onions and garlic in olive oil and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the fresh bread crumbs with the grated cheese, parsley, basil, salt and ground black pepper.

In a round deep dish pizza pan or casserole cover the bottom of the pan with some of the meat sauce and then add a layer of potatoes, zucchini and onions. Top with some of the bread crumb mixture. Just like making lasagna, repeat with another layer, pour any remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle the top with the remaining bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes.

Zuppe di Pesce Venetian

Carlotta Yonkers remembers the long hours her mother, Sylvia Potesta, spent in the family’s East End kitchen. Potesta’s maternal grandparents, who came from Calabria, in the southern coastal region of Italy, settled first in Boomer, where most of the men became miners. Her mother was born in Charleston, WV. Her father, who was born in Bruzzi (Italy) preferred city life and moved to Charleston where he became a tailor and worked for years at the Diamond department store. Potesta remembers that her father ordered seafood from New York City, which was shipped to them in a large barrel, for the family’s Christmas Eve dinner because no Charleston grocer carried the required ingredients.

Carlotta Yonkers’ Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups cleaned and chopped leeks
  • 4 cups chopped tomato
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 cups chopped fresh fennel tops
  • Any combination of: whole shrimp, clams in their shells, mussels, crab pieces in the shell, scallops, white fish of any kind, fresh, cut into 2-inch chunks

Directions:

Place butter, olive oil, garlic, onions, carrots, leeks and tomato in a 12-quart heavy stockpot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until things begin to brown a bit, about 15 minutes.

Add parsley, wine, stock, water, fennel seed, peppercorns and fennel tops to the pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour. Drain the stock from the kettle and discard all the ingredients, returning the stock to the pot.

Bring the stock to a boil when ready to serve and add any or all of the seafood, using any amount desired. Start with the heavy-shelled seafood and then add scallops and fish last. Simmer until the clams and mussels are open, the shrimp pink and all is tender, but not overcooked, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty toasted bread.

Oliverio Family Tradition

In 1932, in her small kitchen at the back of her retail store in Clarksburg, WV, Antoinette “Ma” Oliverio perfected her recipe for peppers in Italian sauce. Her son, Frank, took her recipe out of the kitchen and into the business world.

In 1972, he began canning peppers under the Oliverio label. Today, his son Mark Oliverio and daughter Deanna Mason continue running the business that was a labor of love for their father. Three generations later, the Oliverio family have combined their love of good food with their recipe for success. In sharing their fathers dream, they are also continuing the legacy of Antoinette, whom they credit with instilling respect for heritage and love of family. Oliverio products are made from a family recipe using only the finest ingredients. Today, the peppers are used in restaurants and line store shelves throughout the East Coast.

Oliverio Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef or turkey
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 16 oz jar Oliverio Peppers and Sauce (hot or sweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl add ground beef and all ingredients except 1/4 of the peppers with sauce and cheese. Mix together. Place in a loaf pan and press gently to relieve any air pockets.

Pour remaining peppers and sauce on top of the ground beef mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella.

Cover baking pan with foil (greased on the side facing the meatloaf) and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

Remove the meatloaf from the pan and drain any grease, let stand for 10 minutes. Slice and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Italian Cream Cake

Patricia Haddy bakes lots of Italian Cream Cakes, her most popular cake. She bakes for friends, family and others who request her cakes after they taste them. “The Italian Cream Cake took off like wildfire when I started making it,” she said.

When a friend requested she bring the cake to a reception years ago at the Marriott, the chef tasted it and offered her a job. She turned him down, but sold her cakes to him for years as his job took him to local country clubs and restaurants. She found the Italian Cream Cake she makes faithfully from a local source, “Seasons and Celebrations” by former West Virginia Gazette food contributor Rosalie Gaziano.

Yield: 3 9-inch round cakes

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 small can coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 5 egg whites, beaten

Cream butter and sugar well. Add egg yolks, one at a time.

Sift flour and soda together; add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture. Add vanilla, coconut and pecans.

Fold in beaten egg whites.

Pour into three greased 9-inch cake pans. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Frosting for Italian Cream Cake

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream together cream cheese and butter or margarine. Add sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.

Spread between layers and on top of the cake. If frosting is stiff, add a little milk.

Sprinkle nuts on top of the cake.

 

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Best Beef Steaks For The Grill

Choosing the correct cut of meat is very important when grilling. Some of the best steaks for grilling are the premium cuts. Thickness of the steak is very important. Each cut should be between 1 inch and 1 1/2 inches thick. The strip steaks and top sirloin should be a little less expensive than the filet mignon, t-bone, porterhouse and rib eye.

Filet Mignon is a cut taken from the center of the beef tenderloin that has outstanding taste as well as texture. They’re the most tender steaks you can buy, though not the most beef flavor.

Also known as:

Tenderloin

Tournedos

Chateaubriand

Beef Medallion

New York Strip is an excellent cut for grilling. This is the steak that many grilling experts prefer.

Also know as:

Strip Loin

Shell Steak

Kansas City Strip

New York Strip Steak

Rib Eye is another classic cut that has marbling throughout the meat – making it one of the juiciest cuts as well as very tender.

Also know as:

Scotch Fillet

Delmonico Steak

Porterhouse is a very large steak that is actually a combination of two steaks: the New York strip on one side and a tender filet on the other. Many believe these to be the best of all steaks.

Also know as:

T-Bone

Short Loin

 

T-Bone is named for its distinguishing T-shaped bone. This choice cut is almost identical to a Porterhouse steak, only it doesn’t have as much of the tenderloin muscle in it. It is both a strip sirloin (with the bone) and a tender filet mignon.

Also known as:

Short Loin

Porterhouse

Club Steak

 

Top Sirloin is near the rump, so the meat’s a bit tougher than cuts from the loin or the rib. The top sirloin is a juicy cut taken from the center of the sirloin – the most tender part and is a great cut for grilling.

 

Flank steak has great beef flavor at a low price. However, it can be a little tricky to grill, because it is easy to overcook. Due to its low fat content and pronounced grain, it becomes tough and nearly inedible, if cooked past medium rare. First of all, make sure the meat is at room temperature. Placing cold meat on a hot grill will make it seize up, toughening it. Also, it will be more difficult to get the steak to cook evenly if the meat is cold in the center. Also, make sure the grill is hot – very hot. The key to keeping flank steak tender is to sear it quickly over high heat.

Rub flank steaks with a little olive oil, then salt and pepper both sides heavily. The salt will bring some of the meat’s juices to the surface and help to form the brown crust that is the hallmark of good grilling. You can also use a marinade.

Place the meat on the grill and do not move it for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes are up, turn the meat over and cook for an additional 3 minutes on the second side, again without moving the meat. Provided that your grill was hot enough, this should give you medium rare on the ends and rare in the middle. If you prefer it a little more done, increase the cooking time on each side to 4 minutes. Do not cook past medium rare, or the steak will be tough.

The last step is actually the most critical. When the meat is done, remove it from the grill and place it on a cutting board. Allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. When the meat has rested, determine the direction of the grain – in flank steak, the fibers run along the length of the steak, and you will want to cut across the grain, in thin slices. Cutting thinly across the grain gives you short fibers in each slice, resulting in more tender meat.

Cooking Perfect Steak: on the stove, in the oven or on the grill.

Pan-Searing Steaks:

In a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Sear the steaks, moving them with tongs a little so they don’t stick to the bottom, approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side. Using this Pan-Searing technique, proceed to cook your steak to your desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness:

Rare – 120 degrees F

Medium Rare – 125 degrees F

Medium – 130 degrees F

When the steaks are done to your liking, remove from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. During this time the meat continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute (add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to any sauce you are making).

Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto individual serving plates.

Sear-Roasting Steaks:

Preheat oven to 500°F (a very hot oven produces a juicy interior). Place a 10- to 12-inch ovenproof skillet or cast-iron skillet and place on range over high heat (the pan and the handle will be extremely hot – be careful).

Immediately place steaks in the middle of a hot, dry pan (if cooking more than one piece of meat, add the pieces carefully, so that they are not touching each other). Cook 1 to 2 minutes without moving; turn with tongs and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and put the cast iron skillet with the steaks in it into the oven. Cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness of steaks and degree of doneness you like. Using the Sear-Roasting technique, proceed to cook your steak to your desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness:

Rare – 120 degrees F

Medium Rare – 125 degrees F

Medium – 130 degrees F

When the steaks are done to your liking, remove from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. During this time the meat continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute (add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to your wine sauce). Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto individual serving plates.

Grilling Steaks: 

Using dry heat from a grill is another great way to cook quality steaks. Remove steaks from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking and wipe any excess marinade (if used) off the steaks.

When you are ready to grill, preheat the grill and coat the grates with oil or non-stick kitchen spray to keep the steaks from sticking to the grill. Place steaks on a hot grill. Only turn the steak once. Let it cook on one side, then let it finish on the other side.

Grill to the desired degree of doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.

Rare – 120 degrees F

Medium Rare – 125 degrees F

Medium – 130 degrees F

When the steaks are done to your liking, remove from the grill and let sit 15 minutes before serving (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven).

Grilled Porterhouse Steak with Fennel Sauce

A great way of presenting the meat to be served is to cut out the bone, slice both sides of the steak and then reassemble the steak on the plate in its original form.

3 to 4 servings

Fennel Sauce

  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 (1/4-inch-thick) slice of lemon
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Grilled Vegetables

  • 3 bell peppers, red, orange, yellow or a mix, cut lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 1 large head radicchio, cut into 1/3-inch-thick wedges, keeping root ends intact
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges, keeping root ends intact
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Fine sea salt

Steak

  • 1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) Porterhouse steak (2 inches thick), at room temperature.

Directions:

FOR SAUCE: Cook fennel and lemon in a medium saucepan of salted boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes, then drain, reserving some of the cooking water; discard lemon. Transfer fennel to the bowl of a food processor; add 5 tablespoons of the cooking water, oil, chives, mustard and generous pinch salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Transfer sauce to a serving bowl.

FOR VEGETABLES AND STEAK: Prepare a charcoal grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal or medium-high heat for gas. Grill vegetables, turning as needed, until slightly charred and tender, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a large platter and season with salt.

Grill steak, shifting meat every 30 seconds or so to avoid flare-ups and brown evenly, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn and repeat procedure on second side. Using tongs, prop steak up and grill edges until browned. Grill sides of steak again, until meat is cooked to rare (about 120° on an instant-read thermometer inserted 1 1/2 inches into steak; meat will be cooler near the bone). Total cooking time will be 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice steak; serve with vegetables and sauce.

Steak with Herb Sauce

Sauce:

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
  • 2 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons. packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon. packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh tarragon leaves

Steak:

  • Four (6- to 8-ounce) New York strip, porterhouse or T-bone steaks (about 1-inch thick)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Prepare Herb Sauce: Place garlic and next 7 ingredients (garlic through lemon juice) in a blender and pulse until emulsified. Add herbs a little at a time and blend until they are incorporated. Scrape down sides of blender jar as needed. The sauce should be thick and very green with the texture of pesto.

Prepare the grill and heat to medium high.

Prepare steak: Remove steak from refrigerator and let come to room temperature (about 1 hour). Pat dry with paper towels. Just before grilling, brush both sides of steaks with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place meat directly on the grill grate and cook over medium-high direct heat about 5 minutes. Turn and continue cooking 5 minutes for medium rare. Cook longer for medium. Remove from grill to a clean platter and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Herb Sauce.

Grilled Mediterranean Steak

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb boneless beef top sirloin or rib eye, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed, chopped, fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
  • Sliced fresh tomatoes

Directions:

Heat gas or charcoal grill. Grease grill grates.

Rub both sides of each piece of beef with garlic; sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning.

Place beef on grill. Cover grill; cook over medium heat 9 to 11 minutes, turning once, until beef is medium rare.

In small bowl, mix together spinach, feta and olives. Spoon over beef. Serve with sliced tomatoes on the side.

Sirloin Steaks with Barbaresco Glaze

You defrosted the steak and it is raining! Make this dish instead.

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups Barbaresco wine
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 1 sage sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • Four 1/2-pound sirloin steaks
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt

Directions:

In a 1-quart pot, bring Barbaresco wine to a boil with shallots, sage and rosemary. Reduce by half, about 15 minutes over medium heat; strain and discard the shallots, sage and rosemary.

Dredge sirloin steaks in the flour. Heat the olive oil in a 14″ skillet. Cook the steaks 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Turn and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 minutes. Add the Barbaresco reduction. Cook 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Remove the steaks to a platter; keep warm. Reduce the cooking juices until thickened to a glaze, about 4 minutes. Pour the glaze over the steaks and serve immediately.

Grilled Flank Steak with Zucchini and Tomato Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients:

Steak

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak (3/4 inch thick)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Zucchini Tortini

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2/3 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

FOR THE STEAK: Combine fennel seeds, peppercorns and salt in a mortar and pestle or small processor. Grind to a fine powder. Place steak in a baking dish; rub on all sides with ground spices and oil. Marinate, chilled, 2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare sauce.

FOR THE SAUCE: In a large saucepan combine bell pepper, tomato, onion, oil and pinch salt. Bring to a simmer. Gently simmer, covered, until vegetables are very soft, about 12 minutes. Add vinegar and cook, uncovered, 1 minute more. Process sauce with an immersion blender or in a processor, then transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

Prepare a charcoal grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal or medium-high heat for gas. Remove marinated steak from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while you prepare zucchini.

FOR THE TORTINI: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 375  degrees F. and set rack in middle of the oven.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, parsley and a pinch salt; toss together to combine. Cook until zucchini is tender, about 3 minutes; remove from heat.

On prepared baking sheet, overlap enough of the zucchini to form 4 single-layered, 3-inch rounds. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon cheese. Repeat with remaining zucchini and cheese to form 4 (4-layered) tortini.

Grill steak 4 1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steak to a cutting board to rest. While steak is resting, bake tortini until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Transfer tortini to serving plates. Slice steak. Serve with tortini and sauce.


The aroma fills the neighborhood and that distinctive sizzling sound can mean only one thing – it’s grilling season. But while you’re enjoying those burgers, be mindful to keep your meals healthy for your heart. A burger doesn’t always have to be fattening or even made of beef.

Here are seven heart-smart choices along with tips for better-tasting burgers.

Grass-Fed Beef: Less fatty than corn-fed beef and the meat of pasture-raised cattle produces a lean hamburger with a clean, mineral flavor. You can add a bit of fat, such as olive oil, to your blend for more flavor. Choose ground round or sirloin–they’re lower in fat.

Bison is one of the leanest meats and very high in protein. But it is the amount of protein you get in bison meat, without the saturated fat, that makes this a great alternative to regular beef. Bison is a great source of nutrients: zinc, niacin, iron, vitamin B6 and selenium. Because bison meat is leaner than beef, it can easily become tough, if you overcook it. Adding a marinade can help keep the meat moist. Try marinades with ingredients such as balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh rosemary or soy sauce, garlic and ginger. 

Chicken and Turkey: More supermarket space is now devoted to ground turkey and chicken. The trick is finding the lower-fat versions to make burgers. Some ground turkey breast can be 99% fat free. In addition, ground poultry breast can have fewer calories than a typical ground-beef burger. When buying chicken or turkey for patties, ask the butcher to grind boneless, skinless breast meat. Some prepackaged ground turkey and chicken may contain dark meat or skin, which can increase the amount of fat.

Soy: Made with soy protein, these patties are great-tasting meat substitutes. Although no meat is in soy burgers, they can still have a beefy flavor. Soy burgers are lower in saturated fat, calories and cholesterol than beef patties–plus they often provide fiber. Because the texture isn’t the same as regular burgers, try dressing them up with flavorful condiments.

Veggie: Often a mix of brown rice and other grains, vegetable patties won’t necessarily taste the same as grilled meat. However, a veggie burger on a whole wheat bun with a slice of tomato and cheese is a nutritional powerhouse. Some veggie patties can be a mere 90 calories, meaning they’ll satisfy appetites without expanding waistlines. Unlike some other on-the-bun options, veggie burgers can also supply fiber. Opt for mustard, which adds additional flavor without many calories.

Portobello Mushroom: This thick, hearty mushroom is about 4 to 6 inches in diameter, conveniently sized for a bun. It has a firm texture that feels similar to a beef burger. However, portobello mushrooms won’t have the same char-grilled flavor as meat. Zero fat and incredibly few calories–only seven calories per ounce–make this mushroom a great choice. Marinate mushrooms in a low-fat Caesar or Italian salad dressing for a few hours to add flavor. Grill for about five minutes on each side.

Venison: Deer meat can be a lean option for grilling season as well. Because the meat is low in fat, it may taste drier than a beef patty. Some people also experience a “gamey” flavor from this meat. With about half the fat of a beef burger, venison offers about the same amount of protein. Because venison may seem a bit drier than ground beef, mix in some tomato or barbecue sauce to moisten the patties.

Additional tips for making just about any burger more heart healthy.

1. Use caution with toppers. If you’re trying to reduce fat and calories, stick with veggie additions like tomato, lettuce, mushrooms and peppers on your burger. Use low-fat cheeses and spreads such as mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce. If you want bacon on your burger opt for turkey bacon.

2. Choose whole grains. By using a bun made with whole grain, you can easily fulfill one of your three daily servings of whole grains.

3. Trim patty size. Think thin and small to keep calories down.

4. Mix meats. If you crave the taste of ground beef in your burgers but want a healthier option, mix half ground sirloin beef and half turkey breast.

Forming A Burger

Don’t pack the meat too much: overworking it can cause the burger to become overly dense and tough. Gather the meat into a loose ball and set it on a work surface. Curl the palms of your hands around the sides of the patty and work it back and forth in a rotating motion so that the sides of the patty flatten slightly. Then gently press down on the top of the patty with the flat of your hand.

An ice cream scoop is a great tool for perfectly sizing the burgers into healthy portions.

Thick burger patties tend to puff up in the middle while they cook. Making a depression in the top of the patty using the back of a measuring spoon or your thumb, helps a burger hold its shape.

Keep the meat cold (it helps to wet your hands with cold water) and handle it as little as possible when shaping patties. Over-handling “bruises” the meat and compressing the meat too much will lead to dense, dry burgers. Make the burgers a few hours ahead of time and chill them on a plate covered with plastic wrap. This firms up the burger and helps it hold together during grilling. Leave them in the refrigerator until the last minute or place them on a sheet pan over another sheet pan filled with ice.

 

Grilling A Burger

1. Build a medium-hot charcoal fire (the coals are ready when they’re fully ashed over but are still hot enough that you can’t hold your hand an inch above them for more than 2 seconds).

2. For Gas Grill: Heat your grill to high heat, about 450°F or until you can hold your hand an inch over the grate for only two seconds.

3. Lightly brush the burgers on both sides with oil just before grilling. This helps prevent sticking and adds an extra layer of flavor. You’ll also need to practice good grill hygiene by heating, scraping and oiling the grill’s grate prior to grilling.

4. Do not press on a burger with a spatula while it’s grilling, All this does is squeeze out the juices onto the fire.

5. After about two minutes on the grill, give the patty a quarter-turn to get grill marks. After that, aim to flip the burger only one time. When the edges begin to brown or you see a few little pearls of blood bleeding through the top, the meat’s ready to turn over.

6. Do not overcrowd the grill. Follow the Steve Raichlen’s “30 percent” rule—leave 30 percent of your grill free of food. That way, if you get flare-ups, you have a place to move the burgers if they start to burn.

7. Make sure your burger’s cooked. While rare burgers may be tasty to some, you don’t want your burger to make you sick. 

8. Let the burgers rest, off the grill grate, for a couple of minutes before serving. This allows the meat to “relax,” giving you a juicier burger.

The Basic Burger

Yield: 8 burgers

  • 3 pounds ground beef of choice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 8 hamburger rolls, split, toasted
  • Cheese and condiments
  • Classic Burger Sauce or Spicy Ketchup or Blue Cheese Onion Topping , recipes below

Directions:

1. Combine beef, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gently blend with a fork. Use moistened hands to form 8 3/4-inch-thick patties (about 6 ounces each). Brush the burgers well on both sides with olive oil.

2. Heat grill and grease the grilling grates. Grill burgers over moderate heat (about 5 inches from heat source) on one side for 4 minutes. Carefully turn and cook on other side for about 4 minutes for medium-rare burgers. Serve on warm buns, topped as desired.

Classic Burger Sauce

Makes About 1/4 Cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons lowfat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Mix all ingredients and chill.

Spicy Ketchup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Directions:

Mix ketchup with prepared horseradish and 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste. Serve chilled.

Burger Blue Cheese Onion Topping

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

To make the onions: Heat butter in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion until soft, about 8 minutes. Add vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until onions are slightly caramelized, about 7 minutes more. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Top each burger with 1 oz. of blue cheese and continue to cook until just melted, about 2 minutes. Divide cheese-topped burgers between toasted buns, top with onions and serve.

The Caprese Burger

  • 1 recipe Basic Burger, above
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups packed basil leaves (about 4 oz.), plus 8 large leaves for serving
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 8 slices
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 hamburger rolls, split, toasted
  • Pesto Mayo, optional, recipe below

Directions:

Prepare burgers as recipe directs and refrigerate patties until ready to cook.

Place pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Add oil; pulse to chop. Add 4 cups basil leaves, Parmesan and salt. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping sides of bowl once or twice. (Makes 3/4 cup pesto.)

Grill or broil burgers as recipe directs. Top with mozzarella during the last minute of cooking time.

Spread buns with pesto. Place burgers on buns and serve topped with a slice of tomato and a large basil leaf, assorted toppings and Pesto Mayo, if desired.

Pesto Mayo

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lowfat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared pesto
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Directions:

Mix mayonnaise with prepared pesto and lemon zest. Chill before serving.

Parmesan Bison Burgers with Balsamic Ketchup

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground bison
  • 1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/4 cup)
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns, toasted
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 4 thin slices red onion
  • 4 tablespoons Balsamic Ketchup, see recipe below

Directions:

1. Preheat grill to high heat.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Divide bison mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in the center of each patty.

3. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

4. Place bottom bun halves on plates. Top each with 1/4 cup arugula, 1 onion slice and 1 patty. Spread 1 tablespoon balsamic ketchup on top half of each bun; place on top of burgers.

Balsamic Ketchup

Refrigerate extra ketchup in an airtight ­container for up to a week or freeze in small batches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 pounds small tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325° F.

2. Combine oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and tomatoes in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange tomatoes, skin side down, on a wire rack set inside a jelly-roll pan. Bake for 3 hours. Cool slightly; peel. Discard peels.

3. Combine tomatoes, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.

Chicken Caesar Burgers

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut up
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut up
  • 1 medium onion, cut up
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 2 anchovy fillets, drained and patted dry (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 3 medium roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 6 ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup homemade or bottled reduced fat Caesar salad dressing

Directions:

In a food processor combine chicken breast halves, chicken thighs, onion, grated Parmesan cheese, parsley and, if desired, anchovies. Cover and process with several on/off turns until coarsely ground and slightly sticky. Shape into six 4-inch patties. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Brush both sides of each patty with oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. For a charcoal or gas grill, grease grill rack of a covered grill. Grill patties directly over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until 165 degrees F, turning once halfway through grilling.

To serve, place a lettuce leaf and tomato slices on the bottom of each roll. Top each with a chicken patty. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese. Spread roll tops with salad dressing. Place roll tops, dressing side down, on burgers.

Note: The internal color of a burger is not a reliable doneness indicator. A chicken or turkey patty cooked to 165 degrees F is safe, regardless of color. To measure the doneness of a patty, insert an instant-read thermometer through the side of the patty to a depth of 2 to 3 inches.

Grilled Portobello Burgers

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 large portobello mushrooms (4 to 4-1/2 inches), stems removed
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette, divided
  • 4 slices red onion
  • 1 cup roasted sweet red peppers, drained
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 4 kaiser rolls, split
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise

Directions:

Brush mushrooms with 4 tablespoons vinaigrette. Grill mushrooms and onion, covered, over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until tender. Top mushrooms with red peppers, onion and cheese.

Grill, covered, 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Grill rolls, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes or until toasted.

Spread roll bottoms with mayonnaise and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Top with mushrooms; replace roll tops.

Glazed Salmon Burgers

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen skinless, boneless salmon fillets
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chili sauce (hot or sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, plus extra for grilling
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage with carrot (coleslaw mix)
  • 6 sesame seed hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • 1 cup thinly sliced seedless cucumber

Directions:

Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Place salmon, half at a time, in a food processor. Cover and process until finely chopped.

In a large bowl combine egg, green onions, salt and black pepper. Add chopped salmon; mix gently until combined. Using damp hands, shape mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons chili sauce. Cover and chill until needed.

For slaw: in a large bowl whisk together 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Add shredded cabbage toss to coat.

Lightly brush both sides of salmon patties with additional canola oil.

For a charcoal or gas grill, place patties on the greased rack of a covered grill directly over medium heat. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes or until done (160 degrees F).

To serve, spread cut sides of buns with mayonnaise mixture. Fill with salmon burgers, slaw and cucumber slices.

Bulgur Veggie Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for brushing
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley sprigs
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 4 slices multi-grain bread, toasted

Directions:

Cook 1/4 cup onion with 1/4 teaspoon salt in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add bulgur and water and cook, covered, over low heat until water is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in beans and soy sauce.

Pulse bulgur mixture, walnuts, garlic, parsley, turmeric, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remaining onion in a food processor until finely chopped.

Form rounded 1/2 cups of mixture into 4 (3 1/2-inch-diameter) patties. Chill at least 10 minutes. Uncooked patties can be chilled, covered, up to 4 hours.

While patties chill, stir together mayonnaise, zest and lime juice.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas). Put a perforated grill sheet on grill and preheat 10 minutes.(Or use heavy duty foil and poke holes in it with a large fork at regular intervals.)

Brush patties all over with olive oil.

Oil grill sheet or spray foil with cooking spray, then grill burgers on grill sheet or foil, covered, carefully turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total.

Serve burgers open-faced on toast with lime mayonnaise.

Heavy Duty Foil Sheet

Grill Pan


In 1920 artist, Enrico Vittori, created this bronze bust which was paid for by Italian immigrants living in Indianapolis.

Although Indiana has had an Italian connection from the very beginning – Enrico Tonti accompanied the explorer LaSalle in 1679 and Francesco Vigo assisted George Rogers Clark in exploring Indiana, it was only after 1880 that Italian immigrants were attracted to the state in any numbers. Indianapolis’  first Italians came from the Lombardy, Liguria, Tuscany and Basilicata regions. The Sicilians who developed the city’s fruit and vegetable trade came later, followed by barbers from Calabria and the Friulani experts in terrazzo-mosaic tile work. Early immigrants became grocers, shoemakers, tailors and barbers.

In 1882, Frank Mascari, a fisherman from Termini Imerese in Sicily, visited Indianapolis to investigate business possibilities. He opened a profitable fruit store on Virginia Avenue just south of Washington Street and before long his three brothers, his brother-in-law, their wives, their children and friends followed him. By 1910, 33 of the 54 fruit and vegetable dealers in the city were Italian. They were well represented among City Market stand holders and behind the wagons and push carts parked around the Marion County Courthouse. Reputedly responsible for introducing the banana here, several were nicknamed “the banana king.”

Residents of Italian ancestry have contributed significantly to Indianapolis’s economy, culture and professional and religious life. Later, primarily after World War II, many Italian Americans moved into Indianapolis, excelling in business and professional fields, including law, medicine and education. 

The Holy Rosary Neighborhood has been known as “Little Italy” because of the numbers of Italians who settled there. The neighborhood was historically known as the Holy Rosary-Danish Church Neighborhood. After the Civil War, the neighborhood was settled by German, Irish, Scottish, Danish, and Welsh immigrants. It is the story of the Italians, however, that shaped the neighborhood. In the 1890’s, southern Italians began arriving in Indianapolis and, specifically, in what is now the Holy Rosary area.

Before 1909, Italian Catholics attended services at St. Mary German Church. Because many of the Italian immigrants did not speak English, they desired to have an Italian parish of their own. Indianapolis’ Bishop Francis Silas Chatard authorized the newly-arrived Father Marino Priori to organize a parish for Italians on the southeast side of the city. Two years later in 1911, ground was broken for the Holy Rosary Catholic Church on Stevens Street. Due to financial difficulties, the basement was roofed and used for services from 1912 to 1925. Finally, in 1925 at a cost of around $50,000, the construction of the edifice was completed and Pope Pius XI sent his blessing from the Vatican. 

The Italians in the Holy Rosary Neighborhood were a tightly-knit group who believed strongly in traditional family ties. It was not unusual for a family with many children to live in a house with their parents and grandparents. Even if new couples did not live in the same households as their parents, they often lived across the street or down the block. The neighborhood is still home to many Italians whose fathers, mothers, children, cousins and friends are direct descendants of the Italians whose names are set forth in the original 1909 Holy Rosary Catholic Church charter.

As a means of raising funds, Holy Rosary conducted the traditional lawn fetes and bazaars, but after 1934 the parish attracted larger summer crowds by erecting stands and rides in the street and offering entertainment. Highly successful, other parishes imitated Holy Rosary. In 1984, parishioners revived the Italian Street Festival. This two-night event features Italian foods and amusements, attracts as many as 25,000 people and has produced a half-million dollar income over the last ten years.

Hundreds of mom-and-pop-owned stores once dotted the neighborhoods of Indianapolis. Before zoning laws restricted businesses in residential neighborhoods, small stores such as groceries, hardware stores, shoe repair shops and restaurants were sprinkled among the houses and their proprietors often lived in quarters behind or attached to the the shop.

One such store was the J. Bova Conti Grocery, which served Indianapolis’s Italian community on the near south side from the 1920’s through the 1950’s. According to Indianapolis Italians by James J. Divita (Arcadia Publishing, 2006), Josephine Mascari and her son Tommaso were experiencing hardship in operating their grocery business on Virginia Avenue. John Bova Conti moved in to run the store and ended up marrying the widow. In 1920 they rented a small, wood-frame grocery with an adjacent residence. Signs on the store and visible goods included, Wonder and Yum Yum bread, fruit, macaroni, olives, cheese, Coca-Cola and East End Dairy products. The store’s business ledger for 1924 through 1927 (housed at the Indiana Historical Society) indicates that many products were imported from Italy and distributed to other stores around the state. According to Divita, “After visiting relatives in Indianapolis, customers from smaller towns would stop at Bova Conti’s to buy 20 pounds of dry pasta for the month. Among his attractive prices were one gallon Berio olive oil, $3; one bottle Florio Marsala, $2.25; five pounds Sicilian caciocavallo, $3.75; and one case Brioschi, 75 cents.”

By the time the photographs, above, were taken in April 1946, the store’s namesake had been deceased for several years. Gus Mascari recalls that his grandparents operated the grocery from the late 1930’s through the late 1950’s. Another Mascari grandchild, Mrs. Terry Shannon, shares that the store had sawdust on the floor, pickles in large barrels and they sold Italian bread baked by Mrs. Mascari.

Iozzo’s Garden of Italy, originally established in 1930, is now the newest, oldest Italian restaurant in Indianapolis. Santora “Fred” Iozzo had a vision of creating the American Dream. Born in Calabria, Italy in 1888, Fred emigrated to the United States of America arriving at age 17. After working on the railroads in Boston and Ohio, Fred was naturalized in 1924 and settled in Indianapolis, Indiana. By 1926, Fred Iozzo had a small empire of 21 grocery stores located in the central Indianapolis area. But as the Great Depression did to so many proud businesses, his chain of stores closed. Later, when economic conditions improved, Fred relied on his background as a chef to build Naples Grill in 1930.

Naples Grill, at the time, was Indianapolis’ first full-service Italian restaurant and it quickly became popular, not only to Hoosiers but to those traveling through the Midwest. After a few years of success, the business moved to the corner of Illinois and Washington Streets, where Fred ran the restaurant with his sons Vincent and Dominic. The restaurant was renamed Iozzo’s Garden of Italy and it continued to be a commercial success. With three bars, a banquet room, two kitchens and a bandstand, it could service an incredible 850 customers at a time. Iozzo’s became a hot spot destination as one of the best restaurants in the Midwest.

Iozzo’s Garden of italy

On October 24, 1940, an unfortunate incident occurred inside the restaurant and temporarily derailed the hopes and dreams of the Iozzo family. That night, a group of sailors came into Iozzo’s and were sitting at the bar, flirting with Fred’s daughter, Margaret. Her brother, Dominic, decided the flirting had gone too far — and a brawl ensued. Fred, who heard the fight from the backroom, burst out and shot the sailor who was choking his son. When the sailor died, Fred was charged and convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He went to prison for 26 months. Fred Iozzo died in 1945, a few years after his release from prison.

After the closing of the restaurant, the Iozzo family continued to pass down their traditions and recipes. In July of 2009, Iozzo’s Garden of Italy re-opened. With traditional family recipes combined with new favorites, Iozzo’s has received awards and recognition from many publications, including “Best New Restaurant”, “Best Italian Restaurant in Indianapolis” and the restaurant has been featured on the cover of “Indianapolis Monthly” magazine.

The Original 1911 Speedway

In 1911 the first car race was held at the Indianapolis Speedway. An estimated 80,000 spectators attended the first 500 mile (800 km) race on Memorial Day when 40 cars competed. A classic race followed in 1912 when Ralph DePalma lost a five lap lead with five laps to go when his car broke down. As DePalma pushed his car around the circuit, Joe Dawson made up the deficit to win. Three of the next four winners were European, with DePalma being the exception as an American national, though originally Italian born. These races gave Indy a worldwide reputation and international drivers began to enter.

Ralph De Palma (December 18, 1882 – March 31, 1956) was an Italian-American race car driving champion who won the 1915 Indianapolis 500. His entry into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame estimates that he won about 2,000 races during his career. DePalma won the 1908, 1909, 1910 and 1911 American AAA national dirt track championships and is credited with winning 24 American Championship car races. DePalma estimated that he had earned $1.5 million by 1934 after racing for 27 years.

In 1958, a budding race-car driver named Mario Andretti first laid eyes on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His family, who had arrived from Italy three years earlier, had driven from their Pennsylvania home, so that Andretti could watch the Indianapolis 500. After the race, the 18-year-old made it to the infield to walk on the famed 2.5-mile track, which includes a narrow front straightaway lined with grandstands on both sides.

“It was very daunting,” recalled Andretti, now 69. “Just to look at all those grandstands, it was quite a sight, so unique.” At that moment, he said, “I wanted to find out what those other drivers were experiencing. It egged me on even more.” Andretti, of course, would go on to win the 500 in 1969 and become one of the most famous racers in history.

The Speedway As It Looks Today

Clinton, Indiana

At the turn of the 20th century Clinton, Indiana, located approximately 15 miles north of Terre Haute, had a great influx of Italian immigrants to the area to work in the coal mines. Italian immigrants made up the majority of mine workers (both deep-shaft and strip coal mines) in Clinton. At one point the city had a population of over 15,000 people, of which, nearly one-third were Italian. The northwest area of ​​Clinton became known as “Little Italy”, as the majority of its inhabitants had come directly from Italy. Unlike a lot of the Italian immigration that took place at that time, most of the Clinton Italians were from northern Italy. A listing of businesses in the Little Italy section of Clinton in the 1920’s shows (4) grocery stores, (2) meat markets, a bakery, a cheese shop, multiple tailors and clothing shops, shoe and variety stores all owned by Italian immigrants. 

According to The Daily Clintonian, Bollittino Edition, a large bronze statue, the Voice of the Immigrant (on North 9th St.), is located at what is known as, the Piazza Del Immigrante.  As a lasting tribute to Clinton’s Italian heritage, the Airola family commissioned the statue from Italian sculptor, Carlo Avenati,  and called it, The Voice of the Immigrant. But it’s not alone, the statue also shares the spot with a very unusual bullhead fountain and a tall granite fountain. These artifacts were made possible by the Airola family. As a coal mining town, with plenty of Italian immigrants, the granite fountain stands as a reminder of Clinton’s Italian roots.

The bullhead statue is unusual in that that particular style of bull is an image that is normally associated with Torino, Italy. As the story goes…hundreds of years ago, the town of Torino, Italy fought one war after another. The people just about lost hope and so decided to stampede their town with bulls. Lots and lots of bulls. The evil invaders were run down by the masses of bulls and the town then became known as Torino. Toro is Italian for, you guessed it, bull! The town of Torino does not sell their bullhead fountains. Instead, the Airola family, through a series of connections, were given permission from the Mayor of Torino to use a pattern of the fountain for a replica to be built in little Clinton, Indiana.

Clinton, Indiana’s Little Italy Festival

The festival has been held every Labor Day weekend since 1966. Part of every festival is the crowning of the Grape Princess and the Re & Regina. Another big part of the Little Italy Festival has always been learning about the Gondola. On June 27, 1967 Clinton’s gondola left its birthplace in Venice, Italy and shipped to the U.S. The Gondola made is debut at the 1967 Festival and is on display every year.

 

Italian Food Of Indianapolis

Baked Clams

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped very fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 24 cherrystone or littleneck clams, top shell removed
  • 2 cups fish or chicken broth
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine bread crumbs, oil, garlic, parsley, cheese and paprika in a medium bowl. Mix together well, mixture should be moist to the touch.

Place clams in bottom half of the shell in a baking pan and pack about 2 teaspoons of the bread crumb mixture into each clam.

Pour broth around clams, making sure not to cover the clams or wash away any bread crumb mixture.

Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown and crispy.

Transfer clams to serving plates and drizzle a little of the juice from the baking pan on top of each clam. Serve with lemon wedges.

Caesar Salad at Iozzo's Garden of Italy.

Classic Caesar Salad

The croutons are best made no more than half an hour before assembling the salad.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

For The Croutons

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 loaf rustic Italian bread (8 to 10 ounces), crusts removed, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For The Salad

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20 ounces romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded, inner leaves washed and dried
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese, or 2 1/2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Combine the butter and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the cubes of bread and toss until coated. Sprinkle with salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper; toss until evenly coated. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until croutons are golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Place the garlic, anchovy fillets,and salt in a wooden salad bowl. Using two dinner forks, mash the garlic and anchovies into a paste. Using one fork, whisk in the pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and egg yolk. Whisk in the olive oil.

Chop the romaine leaves into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces. Add the croutons, romaine and cheese to the bowl; toss well. If you wish, grate extra cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Note: If you prefer not to use the raw yolk in this recipe, substitute 1 tablespoon store-bought mayonnaise. Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children or anyone whose health is compromised.

 

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni

The pasta cooks in the sauce.

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1  (26 ounce) container Pomi crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups packaged dried rigatoni
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 -2 1/2 ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 8 ounces)
  • Fresh basil leaves

Directions:

In a large saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown. Stir in undrained tomatoes, pasta, water, mushrooms, Italian seasoning and red pepper.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until pasta is tender but slightly firm, stirring occasionally.

Stir in chicken; heat through. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Osso Buco alla Milanese

Risotto Milanese is the classic accompaniment. Using veal shanks is traditional, but I have had success with this recipe using pork shanks, beef shanks or trukey thighs.

Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour for dredging (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 meaty veal shanks, each 2 to 2 1/2 inches thick (3 to 3 1/2 pounds total)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion (about 6 ounces), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small fennel bulb (about 12 ounces), trimmed, cored, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 strips orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler (each about 3 inches by 3/4-inch)
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
  • 1/2 cup veal or chicken stock, homemade, or store-bought
  • 1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes, fresh or canned, with their juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Dredging the shanks: pour the flour into a shallow dish. Season the veal shanks on all sides with salt and pepper. One at a time, roll the shanks around in the flour coat and shake and pat the shank to remove any excuses flour. Discard the remaining flour.

3. Browning the shanks: put the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a wide Dutch oven or heavy braising pot (6 to 7 quart) and heat over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and the oil is shimmering, lower the shanks into the pot, flat side down; if the shanks won’t fit without touching one another, do this in batches. Brown the shanks, turning once with tongs, until both flat sides are well caramelized, about 5 minutes per side. If the butter-oil mixture starts to burn, lower the heat just a bit. Transfer the shanks to a large platter or tray and set aside.

4. The aromatics: pour off and discard the fat from the pot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pot and melt it over medium heat. When the butter has stopped foaming, add the onion, carrot, celery and fennel. Season with salt and pepper; stir and cook the vegetables until they begin to soften but do not brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic, orange zest, marjoram and bay leaf, and cook for another minute or two.

5. The braising liquid: add the wine, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, to reduce the wine by about half, 5 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes, with their juice and boil again to reduce the liquid to about 1 cup total, about 10 minutes.

6. The braise: Place the shanks in the pot so that they are sitting with the exposed bone facing up and pour over any juices that accumulated as they sat. Cover with parchment paper, pressing down so the parchment nearly touches the veal and the edges hang over the sides of the pot by about an inch. Cover tightly with the lid and place in the lower part of the oven to braise at a gentle simmer. Check the pot after the first 15 minutes and if the liquid is simmering too aggressively, lower the oven heat by 10 or 15 degrees. Continue braising, turning the shanks and spooning some pan juices over the top after the first 40 minutes, until the meat is completely tender and pulling away from the bone, about 2 hours.

7. The gremolata: While the shanks are braising, stir together the garlic, parsley and lemon zest in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a cool place (or the refrigerator, if your kitchen is very warm.)

8. The finish: When the veal is fork-tender and falling away from the bone, remove the lid and sprinkle over half of the gremolata. Return the veal to the oven, uncovered, for another 15 minutes to caramelize it some.

9. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, carefully lift the shanks from the braising liquid, doing your best to keep them intact. The shanks will be very tender and threatening to fall into pieces and the marrow will be wobbly inside the bones, Arrange the shanks on a serving platter or other large plate, without stacking and cover with foil to keep warm.

10. Finishing the sauce: Set the braising pot on top of the stove. if there is a visible layer of fat floating on the surface, use a large spoon to skim it off and discard it. Taste the sauce for concentration of flavor. If it tastes a bit weak or flat, bring it to a boil over high heat and boil to reduce the volume and intensify the flavor for 5 to 10 minutes.

11. Portioning the veal shanks: if the shanks are reasonably sized, serve one per person. If the shanks are gargantuan or you’re dealing with modest appetites, pull apart the larger shanks, separating them at their natural seams and serve smaller amounts.

12. Serving: Arrange the veal shanks on warm dinner plates accompanied by the risotto, if serving. Just before serving, sprinkle on the remaining gremolata and then spoon over a generous amount of sauce .

Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Berries

12 servings

Cheesecake:

  • 4 cups (2 pounds) Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Topping:

  • 2 cups quartered strawberries
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Mint sprigs (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

To prepare cheesecake:

Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour batter into a 10-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 1 hour or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched.

Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around the outside edge of cheesecake. Cool slightly; remove outer ring from pan. Sprinkle cheesecake evenly with powdered sugar.

To prepare topping:

Combine berries, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and juice; toss gently to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve berry mixture with cheesecake. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.



Memorial Day is the gateway to summer and it conjures up images of picnics, barbecues and parades. Originally the holiday was charged with deeper meaning and it was called Decoration Day – a day of remembrance for those who died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is about reconciliation and about coming together to honor those who gave their lives.

Memorial Day is the time to wear poppies, fly the flag and place flowers on the graves of military personnel. Many volunteers and volunteer organizations march in patriotic parades. Frequently there is a reading of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Patriotic speeches are made and declarations by The President and Heads of the Armed Services are also read. We all take time on this special day to remember the human sacrifice it has taken to establish and maintain our great country. Later in the day, time is set aside for picnics, BBQ parties and other outdoor activities.

Instead of spending money on store bought pasta salads, meat trays, fruit and dessert, save money by making these simple dishes yourself. Here is a suggested menu with beverage ideas to help you get you started.

What Drinks Go Well With BBQ?

Soda, beer and iced tea are a good start. Provide pitchers of punch or lemonade or mix up a few sensational summer cocktails. Put a twist on some old classics or try some fresh new blends to quench that thirst.

Try this Italian Cocktail Punch                                                                                                                                         

  • One 750-milliliter bottle Aperol or Compari (Italian Liqueurs)
  • One 750-milliliter bottle Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine)
  • 750 milliliters chilled seltzer
  • Ice
  • Fruit slices, for garnish

In a pitcher combine the Aperol,  the Prosecco and the seltzer. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish each drink with fruit.

Keeping it simple with wine:

The grill serves up such a wide range of foods that pairing them with beverages can be seen as either a challenge or the result of your imagination. Luckily, the spirit of outdoor dining—including the tendency to serve lighter beverages—simplifies the choice.

Sparkling wines beat the heat and play well with almost any grilled food. Stick with wines like Prosecco, Cava or a light California sparkling wine.

White wines are clearly suited to grilled fish and chicken and some pork recipes, even those that call for blackened preparations or spice rubs. The high acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc or a cool Sancerre (made from the same grape)—pairs perfectly with such meats. Choose a white Burgundy or Chardonnay for richer fish, like tuna, trout or salmon. Chardonnay is also the best pick for veggie burgers and sometimes regular hamburgers that have a mushroom sauce.

There’s no question that rosés are a perfect fit for casual outdoor dining. Served cool, these wines have a bit more acidity than white wines and can handle grilled flavors. Among the favorites in this category are Bandol from Provence, Tavel from the Rhône Valley and a number of rosés from California made from the Sangiovese grape.

When pork, smoked meats or shellfish are on the menu, a Pinot Noir from Oregon or the Russian River Valley or a Burgundy is best. 

If you’re serving hamburgers, steaks or barbecued ribs, only the big red wines will do. Bordeaux, California Cabernet and Barolo are perfect matches, but if the meat has a spicy rub, try Zinfandel or an Australian Shiraz or Argentine Malbec.

Appetizers

Pimento Ricotta Spread                                                                 

Serve with toasted baguette slices or flatbread and cut up vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 15 ounces fresh ricotta (1 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup well-chopped drained pimentos (from one 8-ounce jar)
  • 3 ounces light cream cheese

Directions:

In a food processor, puree the ricotta and cream cheese. Add the pimentos and crushed red pepper and pulse until the pimentos are minced. Season with salt.

Iced Mint Green Tea Punch                                         

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 6 green tea bags
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 4 cups Limoncello
  • Lemon slices, for garnish

Directions:

Combine mint leaves, tea bags, honey and boiling water. Let steep for 5 minutes; remove tea bags. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until chilled.

Stir in Limoncello, ice cubes and lemon slices just before serving.

Main Dishes

Rosemary-Skewered Artichoke Chicken

6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 fresh rosemary stems (18 inches)
  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and halved
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 6 cherry tomatoes

Directions:

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the oil, dill, oregano, lemon peel, garlic, salt and pepper; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel bark from the bottom half of each rosemary stem and make a point at each end; soak in water until ready to use.

Drain and discard marinade. On soaked rosemary stems, alternately thread the chicken, artichokes, squash and tomatoes. Position the leaf parts of the rosemary stems so that they will be on the outside of the grill cover. Pointed ends toward the back of the grill.

Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Place skewers on the grill. 

Grill, with the cover slighly ajar, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated zest of a navel orange
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lb flank steak, trimmed
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
  • 2 large navel oranges, peeled & sliced thin
  • 8 sprigs mint — for garnish

Directions:

In a shallow glass or ceramic dish, combine garlic, orange zest, juice, vinegar, pepper, mustard and chopped mint. Add steak to marinade; turn once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, turning steak twice in the marinade.

Remove steak from marinade, scraping any bits of marinade clinging to meat back into the bowl. Transfer marinade to small saucepan and bring to a boil; reserve.

Lightly grease grill rack with vegetable cooking spray or oil.

Preheat charcoal grill until coals have turned a gray ashy color or preheat gas grill according to manufacturer’s suggested time on high heat.

Place steak on grill 4 inches from heat source and sear 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Brush with a little reserved marinade and continue cooking, covered (with lid down or tented with foil on a charcoal grill), for approximately 4 minutes, brushing frequently with marinade.

Place onion slices on the grill and baste with some of the marinade. Cook until lightly brown about 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer to a carving board, tent with foil, and let rest for 7 minutes before slicing.

Arrange orange slices and onion slices in overlapping pattern around the outside of the platter.

Slice steak diagonally across the grain into very thin slices. Arrange down the center of the platter and garnish with mint.

Side Dishes

Grilled Peach Salad with Pecans

Ingredients:

  • 4 large peaches
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry flavored vinegar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce

Directions:

Preheat grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut peaches into six slices each; discard pits. Cook peach slices until grill marks appear (no need to completely cook peaches). Remove from grill and let cool at room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Add butter, pecans, sugar and cayenne pepper. Cook while stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and turns golden brown.

Remove pan from heat and cool to room temperature.

Slice both heads of romaine into six sections. Place lettuce and peaches on a plate and top with dressing and pecans. 

Green Beans and Tomatoes                                       

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds green string beans (or a mixture of yellow and green)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

Directions:

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the beans and spread them on a large baking sheet to cool. Pat dry.

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the shallots and basil and season with salt and pepper. Place the beans and tomatoes in a large bowl, add the oil mixture and toss well.

Transfer to a platter for serving. Can be made early in the day and served room temperature.

 

Dessert

Strawberry Layer Cake

16 servings

Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
  • Cooking spray

Frosting:

  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 12 whole strawberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray.

To prepare cake:

Place sliced strawberries in a food processor and process until smooth.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk. Set aside.

Place granulated sugar and the 1/2 cup butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer; beat at medium speed until well blended.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg whites.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Add pureed strawberries and food coloring and beat just until blended.

Divide batter between the twp pans.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake layers comes out clean.

Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

To prepare frosting:

Place cream cheese, 1/3 cup butter and liqueur in a medium bowl; beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat just until blended.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

Cut 1 whole strawberry into thin slices, cutting to, but not through, the stem end. Fan strawberry on top of cake.  Cut remaining 11 strawberries in half. Garnish the sides of the cake with the strawberry halves.

 


Crumbles, Crisps and Cobblers are simple old-fashioned desserts that offer the comfort of fruit pies but without the work of making a pie crust. Cobblers have a softer biscuit-like topping and texture, while crumbles and crisps have a crunchy, streusel-like topping that provides a contrast to the soft fruit in the filling.

Early settlers of America were very good at improvising. When they first arrived, they brought their favorite recipes with them, such as English steamed pudding. Not finding their favorite ingredients, they used whatever was available. That’s how all these traditional American dishes came about with such unusual names. Early colonists were so fond of these fruit dishes that they often served them as the main course or even for breakfast. It was not until the late 19th century that they became primarily desserts.

Cobblers originated in the early British American colonies. English settlers were unable to make traditional suet pudding due to a lack of ingredients and cooking equipment, so instead, they covered a stewed filling with a layer of uncooked plain biscuits or dumplings. The origin of the name cobbler is uncertain, although it may be related to the now archaic word cobeler, meaning “wooden bowl”.

In the United States, varieties of cobbler include the Betty, the Grump, the Slump, the Dump, the Buckle and the Sonker. Grunts, Pandowdy and Slumps are a New England variety of cobbler, typically cooked on the stovetop in an iron skillet with the dough on top in the shape of dumplings.

The Sonker is unique to North Carolina: it is a deep-dish version of the American cobbler. In the South, cobblers most commonly come in single fruit varieties and are named as such, blackberry, blueberry or peach cobbler. The Deep South tradition also gives the option of topping the fruit cobbler with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

Some of these terms are more universal than others, but here are the most generally accepted definitions:

Crisp : baked fruit topped with a mixture of some combination of flour, nuts, cereal (especially oatmeal), butter and sugar. The topping ranges in texture from streusel to granola and usually completely covers the fruit. It is sometimes called a crumble.

Cobbler : baked fruit topped with a batter or biscuit crust. The topping is often “cobbled” rather than smooth; the topping is generally dropped or spooned in small clumps over the fruit, allowing bits of the filling to show through.

Grunt or Slump: as the biscuit-topped fruit cooks on the stove, it supposedly makes a grunting noise‚ likely the result of the steam from simmering fruit escaping through the vents between the biscuits.

A Buckle is made with yellow batter (like cake batter), with the fruit mixed in with the batter.

Betty consists of fruit, usually apples, baked between layers of buttered crumbs. Betties are an English pudding dessert closely related to the French Apple Charlotte. Betty was a popular baked pudding made during colonial times in America.

Pandowdy is a deep-dish dessert that can be made with a variety of fruit, but is most commonly made with apples sweetened with molasses or brown sugar. The topping is a crumbly type of biscuit, except the crust is broken up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to come through. Sometimes the crust is on the bottom and the desert is inverted before serving. The exact origin of the name Pandowdy is unknown, but it is thought to refer to the deserts plain or dowdy appearance.

These desserts are such a simple way to use the abundance of fresh, seasonal fruits found on farm stands and in produce aisles. Unlike pies, crisps and cobblers are forgiving with exact measurements. Butter alternatives, such as Smart Balance, are an easy substitute that can reduce calories and saturated fat in the nutrition content of these dessert. It is easy to scale up for large picnics or down for dinner for two. Crisps and cobblers are at their best when highlighting the colors and flavors of summer fruit. With two basic recipes, buttermilk biscuit dough or a crisp topping, you can transform the fruits of summer into dozens of fantastic fresh-baked desserts. The processor can also make quick work of mixing the topping ingredients.

Juicy cherries, berries, sliced peaches, nectarines or plums are piled into a buttered baking dish, tossed with a bit of sugar and sprinkled liberally with streusel topping to become a Summer Fruit Crumble. Those same fruits can be placed in the same buttered baking dish and topped with sweet biscuit dough, then cooked until bubbly and brown. Now you’ve made cobbler.

A crisp or cobbler can be cooked in any type of oven proof baking dish. Ramekins, pie pans, Pyrex casseroles or  decorative gratin dishes are all fine choices. Plan for about a cup of uncooked fruit per serving and room for a topping or base. Make extra topping to keep in the freezer and you can have a fruit crisp or crumble oven-ready quicker than it takes to preheat your oven.

The art of perfecting a crisp and cobbler requires consideration of fruit size, flavor, texture and juiciness. Balance sweet and tart, crunchy with soft. Fresh, frozen and dried fruit are all possible sources for the fillings. A few dried cherries mixed in with fresh or frozen berries will absorb juices and thicken the mixture. Tart rhubarb is well paired with chewy dried apricots for a more toothsome filling than rhubarb can offer on its own. When cutting fruit:  large strawberries are best halved or quartered and stone fruits (peaches, etc.) cut into chunks rather than thick slices.

Most fruits need some sweetening in addition to the topping. Tart fruits such as sour cherries, rhubarb and raspberries always need some added brown or white sugar or honey in the fruit layer. In all of the recipes below sugar alternatives, such as Truvia for Baking, will work perfectly. A deep layer of juicy fruits can be thickened during baking with a tablespoon of cornstarch or flour mixed in with the sugar in the fruit layer. For textural variety mix soft berries with stone-fruit chunks, such as, strawberry-apricot or blueberry-peach. Or plan for color. A blush-hued cobbler with red plums, raspberries and rhubarb will evoke an evening sunset.

Nuts, spices, herbs and zests are also welcome additions to expand the basic ingredients. Sprinkle a few sliced almonds in with the topping or add some minced orange zest to the fruit. Blueberry crisp can be enhanced with a few chopped walnuts in the topping and some lemon zest in the filling. Culinary herbs more familiar in savory preparations are sophisticated additions to these homespun desserts. Try a few leaves of thin-sliced fresh basil as garnish on a peach crisp or add a little rosemary and black pepper to the sweetened whipped cream served with the cobbler. A scant teaspoon of cardamom in the biscuit dough is an unexpected flavor that blends nicely with most fruit.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

To ensure that the filling is thickened and fully cooked, bake the cobbler until it bubbles in the center.

For the filling:

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 lb. fresh or thawed frozen rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 large lemon, finely grated to yield 1/2 teaspoon zest, squeezed to yield 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1/2 cup mild honey (such as clover)
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the topping:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or sugar alternative equivalent
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 oz. (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or butter alternative, such as Smart Balance)
  • 2/3 cup canned evaporated whole milk or regular whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Sugar to sprinkle on the top, optional

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Make the filling:

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix all of the filling ingredients; set aside.

Make the topping:

In another large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the milk and stir just until the mixture comes together.

Prepare the cobbler:

Butter a shallow 2-quart dish. Transfer the filling to the dish.

With a tablespoon drop tablespoons of dough on top of the filling. Sprinkle the dough lightly with sugar, if desired.

Bake until the topping is deep golden-brown on top and the filling is bubbling in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. If the dough browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Pear Crisp with Amaretti Topping

Look for Italian Amaretti cookies at specialty stores or gourmet grocers. And choose slightly under-ripe, firm pears.

Ingredients:

  • 6 peeled Anjou or Bartlett pears, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 amaretti cookies (Italian almond macaroons)
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place pears in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 6 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, lemon juice and salt; toss well to coat.

Transfer mixture to an 11×7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place cookies in a food processor; process until finely ground. Combine remaining flour, cookie crumbs and remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in nuts.

Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over pear mixture. Bake for 50 minutes or until pears are tender. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Peach Blueberry Crumble

Bake the crumble on a parchment paper or foil-lined baking sheet to catch any fruit juices that may bubble over.

Ingredients:

  • 7 large peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, cut into small squares

Directions:

Combine first 9 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Spoon mixture into a greased 8 1/2- x 11-inch baking dish.

Stir together dark brown sugar and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture forms pea-size pieces.

Spoon topping evenly over filling, and bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until fruit is bubbling and top is golden.

Blueberry Crisp

Fresh blueberries are best for this crisp recipe, though frozen berries will also work. Keep them frozen and bake the blueberry crisp 10 or 15 minutes longer. Thawed berries are too fragile to use and give off too much liquid.

8 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts or almonds
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Coat an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons cornstarch evenly in the dish.

Combine remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, the 2 tablespoons brown sugar, vanilla and blueberries in a large bowl; toss. Place in prepared baking dish.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through cinnamon) in the bowl of a food processor; pulse twice to combine. Add butter; pulse 5 times or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Spoon topping evenly over blueberries, packing down lightly. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden.

Plum Cobbler

This low calorie dessert can be prepared as one large cobbler or in individual ramekins.

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds plums, peeled, pitted, and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 6 ounces chilled 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons flour; toss. Arrange mixture in a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine remaining flour, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and baking powder in a food processor; pulse 3 times. Add butter, lemon rind and cream cheese; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; pulse until blended.

Drop dough by spoonfuls over plum mixture; sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 55 minutes or until golden.

Grilled Peach Crisps

A perfect finish to a summer barbecue.

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 small to medium peaches, halved and pitted
  • 2 cups reduced-fat vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat granola

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over cut sides of the peaches. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Heat grill to medium. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.

Place peaches cut side down on the grill grates. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until peaches are tender and begin to caramelize.

Place 2 peach halves in each of four dessert bowls. Top each with 1/2 cup ice cream and 2 tablespoons of granola.

 


Grilling vegetables is not difficult. With so many possible vegetable choices and recipes, the biggest challenge is narrowing them down to just a few special recipes that take advantage of the outdoor grill flavor. Many different kinds of vegetables can be grilled with great results. Beets become sweet on the grill. Potatoes get crisp on the outside and stay sweet and moist on the inside. Carrots and onions caramelize.

Select vegetables that are firm and that can hold up to slicing and grilling. Slice them in large, thick (at least 1/4-inch) sections, since small pieces can easily fall through the grid and into the fire. Cut zucchini lengthwise or on a long diagonal, for example. If you plan to prepare a recipe that calls for smaller pieces, try grilling them on skewers or wrapping them in foil packets. Vegetables such as peppers can simply be grilled whole, then peeled and sliced.

Soak vegetables in cold water for about 30 minutes before you grill them to keep them from drying out. Pat dry.

Because vegetables lack fat, they need oil, liquid, or some sort of marinade to prevent them from burning and sticking and to keep them moist. Brush vegetables with oil (preferably vegetable oil because it has a high smoke point) or a flavored oil mixture, such as a salad dressing or your own mixture of oil and herbs or other seasonings. Marinate the vegetables for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

White wine, oil, garlic, onion and celery salt make a good marinade, as do beer, oil, garlic and cloves. Lemon juice also makes a good base for a grilling marinade. Try pineapple juice, soy sauce, lemon juice and garlic for firm vegetables. Orange juice, turmeric, ginger, garlic and lemon zest make a light marinade for summer squash or softer vegetables.

Consider the texture of the ingredient to determine marinating time. Mushrooms, summer squash, and tomatoes may need only 30 to 40 minutes to marinate. Tougher ingredients, such as, sliced carrots or potatoes can marinate for a couple of hours.

To further prevent food from sticking to the grill and to aid in cleanup, spray the grid with nonstick cooking spray before heating (never spray into the fire) or wipe the grill rack with oil before you start cooking.

Special equipment is minimal. A special grill top basket is useful to keep small veggie foods from falling into the fire. Metal or wood skewers are useful for making kebabs that are easily rotated on a grill. (Wood skewers should be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to threading the vegetables so they won’t burn on the grill.) Heavy-duty foil is the best type to use for lining grills or for wrapping food in packets for grilling.

Some Popular Vegetables For The Grill

Asparagus: Cut off ends. Soak in water for 30 minutes to an hour. Pat dry and brush with olive oil. Place on grill, turning every minute. Remove when tips start to turn brown. You can add some extra flavor to asparagus by mixing a little sesame oil in the olive oil before you brush them.

Bell Peppers: Cut through the middle of the pepper top to bottom. Remove stems, seeds and whitish ribs. Brush lightly with oil and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Corn on the cob: Gently pull back the husks but don’t remove. Remove the silk and cut off the tip. Soak in cold water for about 30 minutes. Dry and brush with butter. Fold the husks back down and tie or twist the ends. Place on the grill for about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn often to avoid burning.

Eggplant: Cut lengthwise for smaller eggplants or in disks for larger eggplants. Soak in water for 30 minutes. Pat dry, brush with oil and grill 2-3 minutes on each side.

Garlic: Take whole bulbs and cut off the root end. Brush with olive oil and place cut side down over a hot fire. Grill garlic bulbs for about 10 minutes or until the skin is brown. Use to flavor other grilled vegetables or meats.

Mushrooms: Rinse off dirt and pat dry. Brush with oil and grill. 4-5 minutes for small mushrooms, 6-8 minutes. Use a grill basket for small mushrooms.

Onions: Remove skin and cut horizontally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Brush with oil and grill 3-4 minutes on each side. Use a wide spatula to turn onion slices, so they do not fall apart.

Potatoes: There are many ways to grill potatoes. You can do them whole for a baked potato. Rub with oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and grill 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally. Or, cut into thick wedges, brush with olive oil and grill until browned.

Tomatoes: Cut in half, top to bottom. Brush with a light coating of oil and grill cut side down 2-3 minutes.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash: Slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Brush with oil and grill 2-3 minutes per side. They can also be cut down the middle into halves and grilled.

The following grilled vegetable recipes will make great sides for your next barbecue.

Grilled Ricotta Basil Tomatoes                                                                                            

Ingredients:

  • 6 round large tomatoes or 12 small round tomatoes
  • One pound of ricotta cheese
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 12 small, whole basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

 Directions:

Preheat your grill to medium and grease the grill grates with oil.

Combine the ricotta cheese, whole egg, parsley, marjoram, chopped basil and garlic, mixing well.

Rinse the tomatoes and cut into halves. Scoop out the seedy pulp, leaving the outer flesh and skin of the tomatoes intact. If using small tomatoes, do not cut in half, just hollow out the center of each tomato.

Coat the tomatoes lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some of the ricotta filling into each tomato half.

Place the stuffed tomatoes directly on the grill grate, making sure they are placed securely between the grates.You can also place the tomatoes in a grill top basket.

Grill for five to ten minutes over medium direct heat, until the filling has firmed up and you see some bubbling around the tomato edges.

Insert whole basil leaves into the filling of each tomato and serve immediately.

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Set up your grill in a 2-zone configuration, one side hot, the other side cool.

Peeling isn’t necessary, but you can do it if you prefer. Cut potatoes into halves lengthwise and then into thick fries. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over the top and toss to coat.

Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over potatoes. Toss to coat.

Lay fries on the grill so they’ll get horizontal grill marks and close the lid. Cook about 3 minutes, or until potatoes have brown grill marks on one side. Turn the potato fires over. Cook and turn until all sides are marked. 

Potatoes are done when easily pierced with a fork. You may need to move the fries to the indirect-heat side, if they’re not done after good grill marks are formed.

Grilled Summer Fresh Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 each yellow, orange and red pepper
  • 18 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 18 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette, divided (recipe below)

 Directions:

Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Cut each pepper lengthwise in half. Remove and discard seeds.

Make the filling: Combine the chopped tomatoes, chopped basil and 2 tablespoons of the Balsamic dressing,

Fill each half with some of the tomato filling and, then, top each pepper half with mozzarella cheese.

Grill 8 to 10 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender.

Place peppers on a platter and drizzle with remaining dressing.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

 Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Add the oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 3/4 cup

Grilled Artichokes                                                

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 small artichokes, trimmed and halved
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Salt to taste
  • Spicy Lemon Aioli, recipe below

Directions:

Preheat grill and oil the grill grates.

Cut lemon in half and squeeze out the juice into a bowl. Save for later. Cut lemon into quarters.

Boil artichokes in water with 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, lemon quarters and thyme. Cook until artichokes are just tender (about 20 minutes).

Remove from the water and set aside for about 5 minutes, allowing them to dry.

Brush with olive oil and place on the grill cut side down. Grill for about 3 minutes or until they start to brown. Turn and grill for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved lemon juice and salt.

Serve with the Spicy Lemon Aioli, if desired.

Spicy Lemon Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients and season to taste.

Grilled Zucchini-and-Summer Squash with Citrus Splash

4 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons grated orange rind
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 red onions
  • 4 zucchini, each halved lengthwise (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 4 yellow squash, each halved lengthwise (about 1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

 Directions:

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Peel onions, leaving root intact; cut each onion into 4 wedges. Add onion, zucchini, and yellow squash to bag.

Seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare grill and oil grill grates.

Drain vegetables in a colander over a bowl, reserving marinade. Place vegetables on a the grill and cook for 8 minutes or until tender; turn and baste occasionally with the reserved marinade.

Place the vegetables on a serving platter; sprinkle with the basil. Serve the vegetables with any remaining marinade.

Marinated Mushrooms

The mushrooms are a great side for grilled meats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of small crimini mushrooms
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Preheat your outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp towel and trim the tips from the stems.

Juice and zest the lemons and combine with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Whisk the dressing thoroughly.

Lightly brush the mushrooms with a little of the dressing. Set the rest of the dressing aside.

Grill the mushrooms over medium-high heat for two to three minutes. Turn mushrooms over and grill another 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the grilled crimini mushrooms to the reserved dressing. Mix well.

Allow the mushrooms to marinate for about one hour on the countertop. You can make this recipe the day before and refrigerating overnight.

Bring to room temperature before serving.

Parmesan Garlic Corn                                                    

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn on the cob
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane grater
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

Preheat grill and grease grill grates with oil.

Remove husks and silks from the corn. Combine grated garlic and butter in a small glass bowl.

Place bowl in the microwave for 10 – 15 seconds on high.

Grill corn until lightly charred and deep, bright yellow (about 15 – 20 minutes). Turning often to keep from burning.

Brush garlic butter over corn and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley.

Crusty Grilled Onions                                                                                              

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 Vidalia onions or other sweet onions, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Directions:

Heat the grill to medium-high and grease the grill grates.

Pulse seasonings in the processor until thoroughly combined and place in a shallow bowl.

Brush onions on all sides with oil and coat in the seasoning mixture.

Place onions on the grill and cook until golden brown and a crust has formed, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until thoroughly cooked and crusty.

 



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