Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Memorial Day Weekend

Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Memorial Day Weekend

Strawberry Recipes for Desserts

Make and take this effortless side, or get it going while your main course is on the grill or stovetop! It’s all about grilling and chilling this Memorial Day Weekend.

Whether it’s burgers, brats, ribs, or steaks, the sides are just as important as the main course when you’re planning your Memorial Day bash.

There’s lots of planning and lots of dishes to prepare. Here’s a way for you to make things just a little bit easier on yourself this year. 

Start with grilled veggies!

Any veggie will work here. My favorites are thick asparagus spears, bell peppers, red onions, zucchini and yellow squash, eggplant and portobello mushrooms. 

For the asparagus, break off the tough ends and trim. For the mushrooms remove the cap and inner gills. Slice the eggplant and red onion into ½-inch circles. Cut the squash diagonally into ½-inch ovals.

As you slice your veggies lay them onto a baking sheet. You can use parchment paper to layer everything on top of each other. Brush both sides with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now you are ready to grill.

Use an open flame or your trusty grill pan to cook each slice turning once so that you have grill marks on both sides.

Make sure you do not over-cook. You want firm veggies, not mushy ones. Remember things keep on cooking after you remove them from the heat.

Transfer the veggies from the grill to the baking sheet. You can cook these the day before your barbecue. Cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap. Chill ‘til you are ready to serve. 

 

how to make easy grilled veggies for memorial day

Now, here is where we get creative!

1: Layer the veggies onto a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Shave thin slices of Parmesan cheese over top and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

2: Stack the veggies, beginning with eggplant and layering from largest slices to smallest. Layer in a slice or two of mozzarella cheese and add a few leaves of fresh basil on the top. Drizzle with olive oil.

3: Layer the veggies onto a platter and add slices of tomato and watermelon. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out circles of the watermelon that are about the same size as the tomato slices. Add a sprinkling of blue cheese and drizzle with balsamic reduction.  

4: Chop the veggies into similar size pieces and stir into rice for grilled veggie pilaf.

5:  Slice the veggies into thin strips and pair them with your grilled beef or chicken for fajitas, enchiladas, or quesadillas.

The secret here is that you can grill the veggies in advance and with little effort assemble the dish while the main course is sitting on the grill. What a great plan!

Behold, the Picnic Trio, A.K.A., All You Need to Eat This Summer

Behold, the Picnic Trio, A.K.A., All You Need to Eat This Summer

From my book: SUNDAY BEST DISHES

For those of us who live on the East coast, summer has arrived! I love the heady smell of magnolias and gardenias when I’m out for a walk. Every morning in my kitchen is a new day for pulling farmers market finds out of the crisper, and whipping something up that goes straight back into the fridge, so I can have it chilled later on. This particular morning – Friday the 13th – I found it hard not to nibble on the freshly made trio, just as soon as the potatoes cooled down enough to spear with my mayo stained fork!

With Memorial Day here at the end of this month, I’m revisiting my best Sunday Best Dishes for outdoor BBQs and potlucks. I had forgotten how much fantastic food each of these recipes yield. I almost didn’t make one (of the 3) because I was running out of room in my refrigerator! Not to worry, though. I simply ate the watermelon and freed up the space. God, I love summer!

Here are my foolproof recipes, sure to make your next al fresco dining experience extra sunny and bright – you can pack these up in paper cartons, like these pictured above (available just about anywhere, including the dollar store), or simply serve it in your favorite bowl – the more colorful, the better!

Purple Potato Salad

I have a confession to make. When I made this favorite summer salad this week, I didn’t have purple potatoes. I was also onion deprived, and forced to use a white one. On top of THAT, I had yellow mustard and no Dijon. But guess what? The salad was still delicious, and is already gone…gobbled up.

2 pounds baby purple potatoes

1 pound baby red potatoes

2 large celery stalks, trimmed and diced, about ½ cup

¼ red onion, diced, about ⅓ cup

4 large radishes, trimmed and diced, about ⅓ cup

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 cup good quality mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

            Bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and cool slightly. Cut the potatoes into ½-inch pieces and place into a bowl. Add the celery, onion, radishes and dill. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into the bowl and toss to coat all of the veggies. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

 

Toasted Corn and Poblano Slaw

OMG – nothing on Earth need stop you from making this. This recipe produces enough salad to fill a truck bed, and is so full of complex tangy, zesty, spicy flavor, it’s a go to every summer. No worries if you don’t have a food processor. You can safely shred the veggies with your hands, or Ninja knife skills. It’s fine to substitute frozen corn kernels for fresh off the ear, too.

½ head red cabbage

½ head Nappa cabbage

2 large carrots

1 large poblano pepper, seeded, and deveined

¼ red onion, peeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ears of corn

1 cup good quality mayonnaise

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

 

Use a food processor to shred the cabbages, pepper and red onion. Place all of the vegetables into a large bowl. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cut the kernels from the corn and place into the pan. Cook until the kernels are just golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the corn into the bowl with the veggies. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, sour cream, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

 

Pasta Primavera Salad

This Sunday Best Dish is unbelievably healthy, and works just as well with red wine vinegar if that’s all you’ve got. I had to know if this was true, so I tested it both ways!

1 pound baby pasta shells

2 pounds fresh broccoli florets, about 4 cups

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1 cup

Juice of 1 large lemon, about ¼ cup

¼ cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup olive oil

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pour the pasta into a large bowl. Steam the broccoli florets until crisp-tender. Roughly chop and add to the bowl.  Chop the sun-dried tomatoes and add to the bowl. Pour the cheese into the bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, white wine vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Happy Memorial Day, friends! Here’s to you and the awesome picnics on your horizon

Okay, all – time to pack it in, and I mean literally. I’m gearing up to put this holy trinity of summer salads into cartons, and head for the beach. Let me know why you’re a big dill this holiday weekend…sorry, always love a good pun!