The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline considered to be Italy’s most scenic on the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in Southern Italy. The Amalfi Coast is a popular tourist destination for the region and Italy as a whole, attracting thousands of tourists annually. The Amalfi Coast has a Mediterranean climate, featuring warm summers and mild winters.
The roads along the Amalfi Coast are famously winding, narrow and challenging to drive. All the towns of the Amalfi coast are connected by the scenic SS163 road built in the first half of the 19th century. Following the natural course of the coastline, the route is full of curves, nestled between the rock and the sea cliffs, giving spectacular views at the exit of every tunnel or hairpin bend. Before the construction of the coastal road, locals reached the region’s 13 towns via mules on footpaths that still exist.
The cuisine, abundant in fish, seafood, fruit and vegetables ripened to perfection in the Mediterranean sun; will also appeal to meat eaters and cheese lovers, thanks to the protein-packed delicacies produced in the Lattari mountains. Not only is the world’s undisputed best pizza made in Naples but the region is also home to gelato, paccheri pasta, eggplant and sfogliatelle pastries and each village in the region has its traditional cuisine and specialized recipes.
The Amalfi Coast is known for its production of Limoncello liqueur, as the area is a major producer of lemons, known as sfusato amalfitano in Italian, which are grown in terraced gardens along the entire coast between February and October. Amalfi is also known for making a hand-made thick paper which is called bambagina. Other local products are a particular kind of anchovies (alici) from Cetara and colorful handmade ceramics from Vietri sul Mare
An Amalfi Inspired Dinner For Four
Appetizer: Stuffed Calamari
- 8 small squid with tentacles
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 eggplant, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 balls fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 15 green olives
Rinse the squid inside and out and set aside.
Heat half of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the eggplant, bell pepper and zucchini. Season with salt and black pepper and remove the pan from the heat. Cool slightly. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, making sure it doesn’t melt.
Gently stuff the vegetable cheese mixture into each calamari. Don’t overstuff the calamari because when they cook, they will shrink, and the stuffing will pop out. Seal the opening by threading the tentacles through the body with a toothpick a few times.
Heat the remaining olive oil with the garlic in the frying pan. Add the stuffed calamari, cook about 1 minute and then add in the capers, tomatoes and olives.
Remove the garlic and add a pinch of salt. Cook about 3 minutes longer and serve immediately.
First Course: Spaghetti Mare e Monte
Spaghetti from the Sea and the Mountains
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
- 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- Kosher salt to taste
- 16 small fresh shrimp, cut in half
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
Pour the olive oil into a large skillet placed over medium-high heat and add the chili pepper flakes. Heat and add the garlic and zucchini. Saute 1 minute and do not let the zucchini get brown.
Add the cherry tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook until the zucchini and tomatoes soften. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute.
Add the cooked spaghetti and toss with the ingredients in the pan. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
Second Course: Lamb in Tomato and Red Wine Sauce
- 4 tablespoons (56 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- One whole bulb of garlic, cut in half
- 3 lbs (1.35 kg) lamb rib chops
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 lb (450 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups (450 ml) red wine
Season the lamb chops generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until very hot and put the garlic halves face down, so that the cut sides are in the oil.
Add the lamb and rosemary sprigs and sear the lamb on all sides.
Add in the wine and let that cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the cherry tomatoes, lower the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer for half an hour.
Transfer the chops to dinner plates and serve with the sauce.
Green Bean Salad
- 2 lbs (900 g) green beans, cleaned and trimmed
- 5 tablespoons (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 8 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons (28 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Boil the green beans for three to five minutes until tender crisp — slightly soft but still with a bit of crunch.
Drain them well, pat dry with a clean towel and put them in a mixing bowl with a cover.
Add the olive oil, mint, red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
Gently toss the beans in the dressing. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Bring the salad to room temperature, sprinkle on the lemon zest and serve.
Dessert: Lemon Granita
- 2/3 cup superfine sugar
- 2 cups water
- Juice of 6 large lemons, plus the zest of 2 of the lemon, minced
- Mint garnish, optional
Heat 2 cups water in a saucepan and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Let cool, and then add in the lemon juice and zest.
Freeze the lemon mixture in a metal bowl, stirring every 20 minutes, until the liquid has become granular but is still slightly slushy, 3 to 4 hours.
Serve the granita in dessert bowls with a sprig of mint.
For relatively few calories, soup brings a feeling of fullness and makes it easier to eat less of other foods in a meal. Soup can benefit long-term health by serving as the basis to work more vegetables into meals.
Tomato soup provides a serving of vegetables by itself and then you can add even more vegetables to the soup.
Pureed squash is an excellent base for a soup that is packed with nutrients.
Broth-based soups can be the base for adding several servings of vegetables, also.
Even if you start with commercial soup that’s light on vegetables, you can add frozen, canned or leftover fresh veggies of your own to enhance the nutrition of this bowl of soup.
The key to making soup a healthy food option is to make sure it is concentrated in the plant foods that we need to increase in our diet and not loaded with what we need to reduce: sodium and saturated fat.
Soup can even be a complete meal. A soup full of vegetables that includes a small amount of meat or poultry can provide a satisfying and healthful meal. All you need to complete this meal is some great tasting bread. Easy weeknight dinner.
Sicilian Meatball Soup
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 5 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 1/2 quarts canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup small pasta shells or other small macaroni
In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the Parmesan, raisins, bread crumbs, egg, half of the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper until thoroughly combined. Shape the mixture into 24 meatballs.
In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery and the remaining garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, rosemary and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.
Add the remaining tablespoon parsley, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the pasta to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the meatballs and simmer gently until the meatballs and pasta are done, about 5 minutes longer. Serve with additional Parmesan.
Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup with Steamed Shellfish
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil plus 2 tablespoons thinly-sliced basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from one 28-ounce can)
- 1 1/4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4), cut into small dice
- 1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Pinch of sugar
- One country loaf of bread, crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 7 cups)
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 2 pounds mussels or clams, scrubbed or shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
In a large saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chopped basil and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Add the canned and fresh tomatoes, the broth, salt and sugar; bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until thick, about 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Put the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp, about 25 minutes.
Add the bread and the black pepper to the sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring gently, until the bread absorbs all the liquid, about 5 minutes.
Put the wine, mussels or clams or shrimp and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large stainless-steel saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, just until the mussels or clams open or the shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. Discard any shellfish that do not open.
Mound the bread soup in shallow bowls and surround with the shellfish. Strain any broth from the shellfish pot over the top and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with the sliced basil.
Vegetable Farro Soup
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 cup farro
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 quarts water
- One 15-ounce can borlotti, cannellini or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 large carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the celery, onion and leek and cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated and shiny, about 30 seconds.
Add 1 quart of the water and the beans and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the carrots and the remaining 1 quart of water. Cover and cook over low heat until the carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the peas, cover and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, top with the basil.
White Bean Soup With Mustard Greens
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 bunch mustard greens or any greens you like, torn into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- One 15-ounce can white beans, such as cannellini
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon wedges for serving
In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and fennel and cook, until softened, 7–8 minutes. Add garlic and mustard greens and season with salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring often, until the greens are wilted, about 5 minutes.
Add the beans and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer gently, being careful not to break the beans, until flavors blend and the soup is thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
Add Parmesan and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges and additional cheese.
Squash and Corn Chowder
- 2 slices bacon
- 3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 1 pound yellow or green summer squash, chopped
- 16 oz fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed if frozen
- 2 1/4 cups low-fat milk, divided
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in the pan. Crumble bacon and set aside.
Add 1/2 cup of the green onions, the celery and squash to the drippings in the pan; sauté about 8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Reserve 1 cup of the corn and set aside. Place the remaining corn and 1 cup milk in a blender and process until smooth. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups milk, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper to the blender and process until combined.
Add pureed mixture and reserved 1 cup corn to the vegetables in the Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Ladle soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 tablespoon bacon, 1 tablespoon remaining green onions and 1 tablespoon cheese.
Whether you’re grilling vegetables, poultry, beef, pork or seafood, it only takes a little flavor to make everything taste good.
Dry rubs will add depth of flavor to your favorite grilled foods. They are great for tofu, fish, pork chops or ribs, chicken breasts and vegetables.
Prepared dry rubs already contain the right mix of flavors ranging from Asian to Mediterranean styles. Or mix your own rub and store in an airtight glass jar in a cool place.
Three to four tablespoons of spice rub should be enough for two pounds of food.
To apply a rub, sprinkle it over your choice of meat, poultry, fish or vegetable and lightly rub into the surface with your hands. Or place the rub in a large plastic bag with the meat and shake to coat. Then let the food sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Marinades enhance flavor and can increase the tenderness of many types of meat, poultry, seafood and produce.
For best results:
Marinate seafood and vegetables for 20 minutes to develop flavor.
Marinate poultry for up to an hour for best results. For some cuts, longer than 1 hour may be too long and the poultry can either toughen or get mushy.
Beef and pork will benefit from 30-60 minutes of marinating, but can also be left to marinate overnight.
Experiment with flavor: try using wine, beer, fresh juice, spices, herbs or a combination.
Wait to brush on any sugar-based barbecue sauce or other ingredients until the final 5-10 minutes of grilling. This allows the charcoal flavor to penetrate the food first and prevents the sauce from becoming charred.
Check my recipes from last July on Rubs and Marinades For Your Summer Grilling.
GRILLING VEGGIES AND FRUITS
Grilling intensifies the natural sweetness and flavor of most vegetables and fruits.
To achieve good results:
Use a light brushing of oil on vegetables and fruits to prevent sticking. A non-stick grate, grilling basket or foil packets, lightly coated with oil, can also be helpful.
Some vegetables (including artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, parsnips and potatoes) can be precooked to shorten grilling time and ensure that the inside and outside cook evenly.
To precook: Steam or blanch the vegetable until just barely tender. Pat dry, brush lightly with oil, then grill until completely tender and lightly browned.
Veggies like eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash and tomatoes should be raw when placed on the grill.
Ideal fruits for grilling should be firm and barely ripe. Watermelon, pineapple, apples, peaches and pears can all take the heat. Soak them in a marinade or drizzle with honey before grilling for added flavor.
Meaty portabella mushrooms are a great burger substitute, while button mushrooms are excellent for use in kabobs.
Cook all fruits and vegetables directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move them to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside isn’t cooking too quickly.
Grilled Caprese Appetizer
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 1 (12-ounce) container fresh mozzarella, drained and cut into (1-inch) chunks
- 1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into (1-inch) cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup basil leaves
Brush the grill grates with oil and heat the grill to medium.
Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Alternating ingredients, thread tomatoes, mozzarella and bread onto 8 skewers and brush them all over with oil.
Grill skewers, turning once, just until the cheese starts to melt and the bread shows grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes total.
Transfer the skewers to a platter, drizzle with vinegar and garnish with basil.
Grilled Zucchini with Olive Dressing
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olives
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Oil the grates and prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking.
In a blender or food processor, combine olives, vinegar, pepper, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt; blend until smooth and set aside.
Place zucchini in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Grill the zucchini on both sides until well-marked and tender, about 5 minutes per side.
Layer zucchini on a serving platter, drizzle each layer with some vinaigrette and sprinkling with some tomato. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.
Quick-cooking seafood is a great choice for grilling, especially on busy weeknights. When grilling seafood take extra care not to overcook it.
When it comes to seasoning, it’s best to select lighter marinades and seasonings that do not mask the delicate flavor of the seafood.
Oil fish well to help keep it moist.
Fish cooks quickly using the direct heat method. Remove it from the grill as soon as it’s done; it will continue to cook once it has been removed from the fire.
Once you place fish on the grill, don’t touch it for at least three minutes. A crust needs to form on the outside, which will allow the fish to naturally pull away from the grates. Once the crust has formed, it can be turned over without sticking or falling apart.
Thin pieces of fish can be wrapped in foil and grilled.
Firm fish, such as swordfish and tuna, are ideal for cooking on the grill.
Placing fish on cedar planks when grilling imparts a subtle woodsy flavor. Try different woods for slightly different flavors. Soak the plank in water for at least an hour prior to grilling to prevent it from catching on fire. Most fish fillets will cook on a plank, without turning, in about 20 minutes.
Fish is naturally tender and should not sit in an acid-based marinade (like lemon juice) for longer than 20 minutes, or it will start to “cook” the fish, turning it mushy.
Choose jumbo varieties, which are easier to handle. These can also be butterflied (leave the tail intact when shelling, then slice along the back of the shrimp without cutting all the way through).
Shrimp should be marinated or brushed lightly with oil.
Cook shrimp just until they turn pink and opaque, about 5-7 minutes. Turn them halfway through cooking. Take care not to overcook shrimp or it will become tough.
Use an oiled grill basket or skewers to contain shrimp so they don’t slip between the grates.
Rosemary Salmon Kabobs
- 1 pound boneless, skinless wild caught salmon fillet, cut into large chunks
- 1 zucchini, sliced into thick rounds
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
- 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (Meyer lemon, if possible)
Place salmon, zucchini, bell pepper and onion in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk together the garlic, rosemary, oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour mixture over the salmon and vegetables, toss and marinate for 30 minutes.
Oil the grates and preheat a grill for medium-high heat cooking. Skewer the salmon and vegetables, reserving the marinade. (If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes before assembling.)
Grill kabobs, turning once, until salmon is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. While the kabobs cook, boil the reserved marinade in a small saucepan for 5 minutes. Drizzle over the skewers just before serving.
Grilled Shellfish and Vegetable Packets
Use any combination of shellfish and vegetables that appeal to you.
- 8 small red potatoes, halved
- 8 small (mini) bell peppers, cut in quarters
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 2 ears of corn on the cob, cut in fourths
- 1 small red onion, cut into 8 wedges
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 16 small oysters, scrubbed or 16 shrimp, peeled
- 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 16 large mussels, scrubbed
- Chopped chives for garnish
- Warm crusty bread, for serving
Heat a gas grill to high.
In a large bowl, drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt.
Tear off eight 16-by-18-inch pieces of heavy-duty foil. Layer the sheets in pairs. Divide the shellfish evenly among the four pairs of foil and drizzle with olive oil.
Arrange the vegetables over the shellfish and drizzle with more olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of water to each. Fold the foil tightly into neat rectangular packets.
Arrange the packets on the grill. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, rotating once or twice, until the packets are puffed and sizzling, about 25 minutes.
Carefully open the packets, watching out for the hot steam and garnish with chopped chives. Serve with the bread on the side.
No matter what the calendar says, Memorial Day kicks off the start of summer and the grilling season. Here are some tips on how to be a successful griller:
Treat your grill just like any other cooking surface — give it a good cleaning before and after you cook. Scrubbing and oiling the grill grates not only protects the grates but creates a nonstick surface for cooking.
A hot grill makes for easier cleaning (as any of the stuck-on food bits become brittle and easier to scrape off), but if your grill really needs a deep clean, preheat the grill then turn it off while you scrub and oil.
When preparing a charcoal grill, don’t skimp on the charcoal. Light the coals at least 30 minutes before you plan to begin cooking. Do not put foods on the grill until the fire dies down to glowing coals.
Even gas grills need to preheat. Turn on the flame at least 15 minutes before putting food over the fire. This will help to warm up the grate and stabilize the temperature of the grill environment.
Don’t grill anything too fatty or with too much marinade, as this can cause flare-ups. Most recipes will direct you to trim excess fat or shake off any excess marinade — this step is included for your safety.
Metal skewers get hot which helps meat to cook more evenly — just remember to use tongs or an oven mitt when turning them on the grill. Double-skewer items that might fall off, such as shrimp, chicken strips or slices of summer squash. In this case, skewers can help keep ingredients from twirling and also maintain the shape of the ingredient.
Grill delicate of small foods in a perforated grill pan — it will keep the food from falling through the cooking grate.
For larger cuts, such as chickens, roasts or a rack of ribs, do most of your cooking away from any actual flames and keep the grill lid closed. This allows for slower cooking and more even temperatures. Unless you have a serious cookout in the making, most grills are big enough to prepare one side for lower heat cooking and one side for high heat. Move hot coals to one half of the grill or turn off one or more burners to create indirect heat.
Can’t decide whether to use a direct or indirect method? If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat; if it takes longer, use indirect heat.
If the grill gets too hot, turn it off or pull everything off the grill. If it’s not hot enough, close the lid, as this will help to build heat quickly.
GRILLING BEEF & PORK
The appropriate heat levels and cooking times are crucial for grilling meat, so that it stays tender and juicy. Each type of cut has its own rules:
Use direct heat for chops, steaks and hamburgers.
Use indirect heat for Italian sausage, roasts and larger cuts of meat.
Cover the grill when cooking less tender cuts of meat.
Slash the edges of steaks and chops on the diagonal, about ¼ inch into the center to prevent the edges from curling.
Resist the urge to squeeze or press down on the grilling meat! This will result in a tougher, less juicy cut.
Steaks like filet mignon, ribeye, top sirloin and New York strip are naturally tender and need nothing more than a seasoning rub or a bit of salt and pepper before grilling.
Larger steaks like flank, skirt steak and London broil are best when soaked in a flavorful marinade before grilling.
Cuts like brisket, shank and chuck demand long, slow, indirect cooking.
Ribeye is excellent on the grill because of its marbling and its ability to hold up to strong flavors in spice rubs and marinades.
Lean, tender pork chops can be marinated or rubbed with spices and then cooked over the coals.
Pork spare ribs and baby back ribs can be prebaked and then grilled to achieve a smoky flavor.
Pork tenderloin grills quickly, is low in fat and can be sliced easily for an attractive presentation.
Treat larger cuts of pork, like pork shoulder, the way you would larger cuts of beef.
Keep this homemade Italian Vinaigrette on hand to quickly give foods flavor before grilling.
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian mixed herbs
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Whisk all the ingredients together and drizzle olive oil in a little at a time. Yields: ¾ cup
Always cook all types of meat thoroughly and use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the meat. Wait a couple of minutes before reading and follow these simple temperature guidelines:
|Cooked meat||Temperatures in degrees F|
Italian Flank Steak
- 1 large (1 1/2-pound) grass-fed flank steak
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup lightly packed basil leaves
- 1/4 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Soak 8 toothpicks in water for at least 20 minutes and prepare the grill for medium heat cooking. Don’t forget to oil the grill grates.
Butterfly steak by slicing it horizontally with a very sharp knife, stopping about 1 inch before you would slice all the way through. Open meat up, like opening a book, and sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.
Layer opened steak with spinach, basil and provolone slices. Starting on one long side, roll up tightly.
Secure the rolled steak at the seam and ends with the soaked toothpicks.
Brush the outside of the steak with oil and grill, turning frequently, until the steak is deeply browned all over, about 12-15 minutes for medium rare (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should register 125-130°F). Don’t overcook or the steak will be dry.
Transfer steak to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Remove toothpicks and thinly slice. Arrange on a serving platter.
Grilled Sausage and Pepper Salad
- 4 fresh pork or turkey Italian sausage links
- 1/2 large white onion, cut into 2 thick slices
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 3 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- Olive oil for brushing
- Prepared Italian salad dressing
Oil the grill grates and prepare the grill for medium-high heat cooking. Prepare one side of the grill for indirect heat
Brush the onion slices and sausages with oil.
Grill sausages on the indirect heat side of the grill for 30 minutes turning then after 15 minutes.
Grill onion on the direct heat side of the grill, turning occasionally, until the onion is tender, 8 to 10 minutes
When cool enough to handle, slice sausages thickly on the bias and cut the grilled onion into chunks.
Toss romaine, feta and red peppers in a large salad bowl with a little Italian salad dressing.
Spoon romaine mixture onto serving plates and top with sausages and onion.
The mild flavor of poultry makes it ideal for grilling. Whether you choose chicken, duck, turkey or game hen, marinating or using a dry rub will maximize flavor. Once you’ve selected your specific cut of poultry and seasoning method, follow these tips:
Thin pieces of poultry can be cooked over direct heat; larger pieces of chicken should be cooked over indirect heat.
Cook whole and butterflied poultry breast-side down.
Turning poultry pieces every 5 minutes and rotating pieces around the grill can help ensure even cooking.
Place a drip pan under a whole chicken or turkey breast to catch the juices.
Allow turkey to rest 20 minutes before carving. Remember, smoked turkey may appear a little pink even when thoroughly cooked.
Always cook poultry thoroughly. Test with an instant read thermometer (it should reach 165°F).
Insert the thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the meat, taking care not to touch any bone. Wait a couple of minutes before reading. For whole poultry, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.
|Part of the Poultry||Time|
|Whole Chicken||15-20 minutes per pound, about 1 3/4 hours|
|Butterflied Whole Chicken||About 1 hour|
|Bone-in Breast, Leg & Thigh||12-15 minutes per side|
|Wing||2-3 minutes per side|
|Boneless Chicken Breast||4-6 minutes per side|
|Boneless Turkey Breast (up to 3 pounds)||1-1 1/2 hours|
|Boneless Turkey Breast (3-9 pounds)||2-3 hours|
Grilled Chicken and Peppers Over Arugula
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
- 7 tablespoons prepared Italian salad dressing, divided
- 2 bell peppers (red or green, or 1 of each), quartered
- 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 6 lightly packed cups arugula leaves
Split the chicken breasts by placing them on a cutting board and using a sharp knife to slice evenly through them, while applying slight pressure on top with the other hand.
Oil the grill grates and prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking.
Brush chicken breasts on both sides with 3 tablespoons of the salad dressing.
In a small bowl, toss bell peppers with 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
Place chicken on one side of the grill and the peppers on the other side. Grill chicken and peppers, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and peppers are tender and browned, 6 to 7 minutes.
Toss onion and arugula with the remaining 2 tablespoons of salad dressing and arrange on a platter. Slice chicken and peppers; place them on top of the arugula salad.
Pesto Turkey Burgers with Grilled Onions
- 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
- 1/3 cup prepared basil pesto
- Olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, peeled, but leave the root ends intact and cut into 4 thick slices
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
- 4 hamburger buns
In a large bowl, combine turkey and pesto. Form the mixture into 4 patties, each about 3/4-inch thick.
Brush the onion slices and burgers with oil.
Oil the grill grates and heat the grill to medium. Grill burgers and onions until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Place burgers on the buns and top each with a slice of mozzarella and a slice of grilled onion.
Part 2 Tomorrow
I was chosen to participate in Castello’s Summer of Blue #BluesdayTuesday campaign. Beginning with this month, May, Castello Blue Cheese will be featuring creative blue cheese recipes on Tuesdays, also known as #BluesdayTuesday, until September. Castello has a wide range of wonderful cheeses. Check out Castello’s website for more information and don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes. You can win a season’s worth of blue cheese for your summer entertaining. See the link at the bottom of this post to enter the sweepstakes.
I was sent samples of Castello’s crumbled Danish Blue to use in my recipes for this campaign. That was very exciting in itself, since I am a big fan of blue cheese and love to put it on my salad. However, I wanted this delicious tasting cheese to be a star in a menu I would use for entertaining my guests.
If you are not that familiar with blue cheese, start simply and pair it with different foods to see how they complement each other. Try it alongside sweeter ingredients like figs or pears for a great appetizer. Add blue cheese to spicy recipes to tone down the heat and, then, add it to some of your main dish recipes. Once you start experimenting with blue cheese, you’ll become a fan also.
Now that May is here and the weather has warmed, I look forward to entertaining outdoors. It is also the time I think about grilling. I find it very creative to plan a menu for entertaining and, in thinking about what to serve, I always think it is best to go with seasonal foods because they are going to be flavorful and fresh. This entrée is excellent to serve when you have company because the chicken rolls can be prepared early in the day and refrigerated. I always try to plan a menu where most of the preparation can be done early in the day, leaving me free to spend time with my guests.
Below is my suggested menu for an outdoor dinner party for 4. This menu is easily doubled for additional guests.
Eggplant Compote, (recipe link)
Grilled Chicken Rolls with Danish Blue Cheese Stuffing, recipe below
Lettuce and Green Bean Salad, (recipe link)
Grilled Vegetables, (recipe link)
Almond Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce, (recipe link)
Grilled Chicken Rolls with Danish Blue Stuffing
A technique I like to use for cooking fish and chicken on the grill is to coat them in Panko crumbs and grill them on heavy-duty foil over indirect heat. This technique keeps food moist and delicious. The chicken only uses one side of the grill, which leaves the direct side to use for grilling vegetables.
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Danish Blue Stuffing
- 4 oz Castello Crumbled Danish Blue Cheese
- 4 large fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 slices Pancetta, about 4 oz
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 medium boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 oz each)
- 3/4 cup Panko crumbs
For the sauce:
In a small bowl combine lemon zest, lemon juice and melted butter. Divide the sauce in half and set one bowl aside. Refrigerate the other bowl until serving time.
For the chicken rolls:
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet and saute the pancetta and garlic until the pancetta is crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
Butterfly each chicken breast and place each piece between 2 layers of plastic wrap.
Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the chicken into rectangles of an even thickness.
Divide the cooked pancetta evenly on each chicken breast.
Add 1 oz of Castello blue cheese to each breast and top with a basil leaf.
Fold in the sides of each chicken breast and roll up.
Dip chicken into one of the dishes with the reserved lemon sauce and then roll in the Panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken.
Secure the rolls with skewers and place on a tray lined with heavy duty foil. Refrigerate the chicken rolls until it is time to grill. Discard the lemon sauce used for the coating.
Preheat the grill on high.
Turn off one side of the grill and place chicken with the foil on that side of the grill.
Grill for 10 minutes, turn the chicken rolls over with grill tongs and cook for 10 more minutes or until the chicken registers 160 degrees F on an instant read meat thermometer.
Move the chicken rolls to a serving platter. Let grilled chicken rest 5 minutes.
Reheat the reserved lemon sauce in the microwave while the chicken rests. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken rolls and garnish with basil leaves. Serve.
Roughly 90 percent of U.S. potatoes are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. The marketing season for fall potatoes begins in August (for areas of early harvest) and may continue through to the following August. Unlike most produce crops, which are perishable, potatoes are well-suited for long-term storage in climate-controlled rooms or containers.
Potatoes harvested in the winter, spring and summer account for less than 10 percent of the U.S. potato production. However, these potatoes meet specific market needs and generally cost more than fall potatoes. For example, some consumers prefer “new” or “freshly dug” potatoes, such as round red, white, yellow and purple varieties that are smaller in size and are normally not stored before sale.
Any variety of potato that is harvested early is considered a new potato. Since they are picked before their sugars have converted to starch, new potatoes are crisp and waxy and high in moisture. They also have thin skins, making them great for cooking and eating unpeeled. New potatoes are in season in spring and early summer and they should be firm, smooth and free of cracks or soft brown spots. Choose potatoes of similar size so they cook evenly.
Store potatoes in a cool, well ventilated place. Temperatures lower than 50 degrees, such as in the refrigerator, cause a potato’s starch to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked. If you do refrigerate, letting the potato warm gradually to room temperature before cooking can reduce the discoloration. Avoid areas that reach high temperatures (beneath the sink or beside large appliances) or receive too much sunlight (on the counter-top).
Perforated plastic bags and paper bags offer the best environment for extending a potato’s shelf-life. Don’t wash potatoes before storing them, as dampness promotes early spoilage.
For Breakfast or Lunch
Potato and Vegetable Frittata
- 1 lb medium new potatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- Small bag of fresh baby spinach
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 eggs, beaten
Boil potatoes in a saucepan, covered, until tender. Drain and when cool enough, cut into thin slices..
Heat an oven broiler.
Heat oil in an ovenproof 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic, red pepper and onion until soft, 3–4 minutes. Add spinach; cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in sliced potatoes, salt and pepper.
Stir in half the basil, the Parmesan cheese and the eggs and reduce heat to medium; cook until golden on the bottom, 8–10 minutes. Place the pan under the broiler. Broil until set and golden on top, about 3 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil.
As An Appetizer
Roasted Potatoes with Ricotta
- 1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
- Zest from 1/2 lemon, finely grated
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place potatoes in the center of a 3-foot-long piece of foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bring the long sides of the foil together and fold edges over, then tightly crimp the ends to create a packet. Roast on a baking sheet until cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan and lemon zest; season with salt and pepper. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut a small X on top of each with a paring knife and gently squeeze open. Place 1 teaspoon ricotta mixture into each. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the stuffed potatoes on a serving platter
In A Soup
Italian Fish and Potato Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, small dice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 celery stalks, small dice
- 2 new red potatoes, diced
- 2 new white potatoes, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch salt and pepper
- One 28 oz can Italian diced tomatoes
- One 8 oz bottle clam juice
- 4 cups water
- Juice from 1 large lemon
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh or frozen cod-fish (or any other firm white fish), cut in 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian green and Kalamata olives
- Additional salt and pepper, to taste
In a large soup pot, heat oil and add onion, garlic, celery and potatoes. Season with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes until slightly softened. Add tomatoes, clam juice, lemon juice and water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Add the fish and olives to the soup and gently stir. Continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
In A Salad
Arugula with Roasted Salmon and New Potatoes
- 1 pound red or yellow new potatoes, quartered
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 pound skinless salmon fillet
- 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup snipped chives
- 10 ounces baby arugula
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a large rimmed baking pan, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes.
Toss potatoes and push to the sides of the baking pan; place salmon in the center and season with salt and pepper.
Roast until potatoes are tender and the salmon is opaque throughout, about 15 minutes. Transfer salmon to a plate; break into large pieces with a fork.
Whisk together vinegar, mustard, chives and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Add arugula and potatoes; toss to combine. Top salad with salmon pieces and serve.
In A Pasta
Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans
- 2 medium new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- 8 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
- 1/2 cup homemade basil pesto or store-bought
- Fresh ground black pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pot of water; bring to a boil.
Add salt and cavatappi or other short tubular pasta; return to a boil; cook 2 minutes.
Add green beans. Return to a boil; cook until vegetables are tender and pasta is al dente, about 6 minutes.
Drain reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
Toss pasta and vegetables with the pesto and thin with some of the pasta cooking water. Garnish with fresh black pepper.
In A Main Course
Roast Beef with New Potatoes and Shallots
- 1 1/2 pounds small red new potatoes (10 to 12), well scrubbed, halved or quartered
- 1 pound shallots (8 to 10), peeled, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds eye-of-round beef roast, tied
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a large rimmed baking pan, toss potatoes and shallots with the oil; sprinkle on the Italian seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
Push vegetables to the edges of the baking pan; place roast in the center. Turn roast to coat with oil on the pan and season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast, tossing potatoes and shallots occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 130 degrees F for medium-rare, 40 to 50 minutes.
Let the beef rest 10 minutes, loosely covered with aluminum foil, before slicing and serving with the potatoes and shallots.