Monday, May 28, 2012

Cooking for the Week: Easy Breezy Summer Grilling!

Summer is upon us now and I don’t know about you, but I welcome the chance to give my stove and oven a few well-deserved nights off.  Summer is a great time to ease up on the heavy cooking and consider your grill and your salad-making skills the tools you’ll rely on to feed your family with healthy, cool, flavorful options.   I had such fun yesterday teaching a cooking class, and this was the theme of our class.  Here’s one take on how to fire up the grill just a couple of times, shop once, and put a great meal on the table every night in less than 40 minutes. One trick is to plan ahead by marinating protein for later in the week a day or two ahead of time.  This way, with very quick cooking, you’ll achieve great flavor and juiciness in your chicken/steak without a lot of trouble.  Also, early in the week, you’ll grill plenty of fresh vegetables that you’ll reuse in creative ways later in the week to make many fun and healthy meals.  All of these evening menus meet the FDA recommended “My Plate” guidelines too and support a healthy lifestyle.  How great is that?

The general menu and week’s shopping list follow, as do all the individual recipes.  Many of them will look familiar if you’ve read my blog before.  Bon Appetit.

Monday – Meatless Monday! Grilled Portabella Burger Caprese Style with a Morrocan-style Chick Pea Salad (Don't forget to marinate your chicken for tomorrow night)

Tuesday – Grilled marinated Chicken Breasts with Romesco Sauce, Corn on the Cob, and Grilled Summer Squash and Peppers (cook extra chicken, asparagus and corn to use later in the week)

Wednesday – Penne with Chicken, Romesco Sauce, Peas, and a Grilled Asparagus Salad

Thursday – Sandwich Night!  Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Hummus Sandwiches with fruit salad

Friday – Grilled Rockfish with Watermelon, Feta and Olive Salad and Basmati Rice with herbs (Don't forget to marinate your steak for tomorrow night)

Saturday – Splurge Night! Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Roasted Potatoes, and Arugula and Blackberry Salad   / For Dessert - Grilled Honey-Glazed Pineapple with Vanilla Ice Cream

Sunday – Weekend cookout!  Turkey Burgers, Canteloupe wedges, and Tuscan-style Green Bean and Potato Salad with Reeses Cup-inspired Ice Cream Sandwiches

Shopping List

Whole Portabella Mushroom Caps                         Large package Chicken Breasts
Large Tomatoes                                                         Slivered Almonds
Basil                                                                            Frozen Peas
Fresh Mozzarella                                                       Roasted Red peppers
10 Ciabatta Rolls                                                       Corn on the Cob       
Zucchini                                                                      Yellow Squash
Bag of Lemons                                                           Rockfish or Mahi Mahi
Bag of Limes                                                              Watermelon
Canned Chick Peas                                                   Feta Cheese
Red Onions                                                                Kalamata Olives
Flat leaf/Italian Parsley                                            Mint
Cilantro                                                                      Flank Steak
Shredded Carrots                                                     Baby Yukon Gold or Red Potatoes
Red peppers                                                              Arugula
Blackberries                                                               Oranges
Basmati Rice                                                              Asparagus
Pineapple                                                                   Vanilla Ice Cream
Parmesan Cheese                                                     Fresh Thyme
Golden Raisins                                                           Plum Tomatoes
Greek Yogurt                                                             Fresh Rosemary
Bibb Lettuce                                                              Shallots
Green Beans                                                              Flatbread
Ground Turkey                                                          Sliced Provolone
Cherry Tomatoes                                                      8 Bakery Peanut Butter Cookies
Cantaloupe                                                                Bosc Pears

Pantry Items List

Olive Oil – inexpensive variety                                Crushed Red pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – good quality                       Good Sea Salt & Pepper       
Honey                                                                         Hot Sauce
Balsamic Vinegar                                                       Sherry Vinegar
Cinnamon                                                                  Paprika                                  
Fresh or Refrigerated Garlic                                      Butter
Capers                                                                       Whole Grain Mustard
White Balsamic, White wine or Rice Vinegar         Ground Cumin
Large Ziploc Bags                                                      Foil
Bamboo Skewers for grilling                                    Mini chocolate chips


Grilled Portabella Mushroom “Burgers”, Caprese-Style

Whole Portabella Mushroom Caps
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Basil Leaves
4 Ciabatta Rolls
Olive Oil – inexpensive variety
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat your grill and while that is warming up, you’ll want to marinate the mushroom caps.  Mix about 1/3 cup of inexpensive olive oil and a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar in a Ziploc bag with a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Add the mushroom caps and shake.  Set aside and allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Slice the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and salt and pepper each slice well.  Set aside.  Cut the basil leaves into ribbons and set aside.  Slice the buns and lightly brush each side with some olive oil.  Place the mushroom caps on your grill and cook for 2-3 minutes on the flat side first.  Flip the cap over, so the rounded side is face down.  After about 2 minutes, lay a tomato slice and a mozzarella slice atop each mushroom cap and continue to grill until the cheese is slightly melted.  While the caps are finishing, grilled the oiled bread as well until lightly toasted.    Remove the buns and the caps from the grill, and construct your burgers.  Serve with fresh, seasonal fruit and a salad of chick peas, veggies and herbs for a perfect summer meal.

Summer Chick Pea Confetti Salad

1 (15 oz.) can of chick peas (Garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
Juice and zest of one lemon
Juice and zest of one lime
3 Tbsp good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp White Balsamic or Sherry Vinegar
½ tsp honey
¼ cup each chopped cilantro, mint, parsley
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup red onion, diced
¼ cup carrots, shredded
¼ cup red pepper, diced
1 cup arugula, rough chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

You can makes this salad before you start the mushroom burgers and set aside – it is best if the flavors are able to meld for a few minutes and served at room temperature.  It’s packed with color, texture, flavor and filled with fiber and healthy antioxidants too!

Rinse and drain the chick peas to remove excess liquid and salt.  Place in medium bowl and chop all vegetables and herbs.  Add the golden raisins (plumped in boiling water if you prefer), the almonds, onion, carrots, red pepper, chopped greens of your choice, and all of the herbs.  Stir gently.  Zest and juice the citrus in a small bowl and whisk in the EVOO, honey, and vinegar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add to the bean mixture and lightly toss. 

 Grilled Yogurt and Lemon-Marinated Chicken with Romesco Sauce

For the sauce:

1 stale roll or ½ stale mini baguette, torn into small pieces (use a ciabatta roll)
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp Spanish Paprika
Black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
1 jar roasted peppers
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and cored
handful of flat leaf parsley, stems removed
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It’s time to haul out your food processor!  This thick, luscious, raw sauce comes together in a snap with the help of the fast moving blades.  First, place the stale bread bits, garlic, almonds, salt/pepper and spices in the process or whirl until everything is finely ground.  Prep your tomatoes by slicing in half lengthwise, and then removing the juicy innards and core, leaving only the fleshy out part.  Add that to the food processor with the roasted peppers (if jarred, drain first), and the parsley, and continue to blend until fairly uniform.  While processor is going, drizzle in the EVOO slowly to fully emulsify.  Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and spices to your preference.  Because this sauce is thick, I like to spoon it onto the serving plate or platter, spread it out a bit with the back of the spoon, and then lay your cooked chicken on top.  Garnish with a bit of parsley, or fresh thyme for a gorgeous presentation.

This recipe makes enough for two nights of meals.  You’ll reuse it with pasta, leftover chicken, and peas the next night for a very easy, relaxed summer meal.

For the chicken:

The tangy yogurt and lemon impart great flavor but also further break down and tenderize the chicken and help to create a wonderful caramelization on the meat when it is cooked.  The bright herbs are a nice counterpoint to all the garlic and the onions add a nice subtle flavor in the background.  The herbs that I used here impart a decidedly Mediterranean flavor profile, but you can use whatever you have on hand and like best.  Notice that you are cooking a lot of chicken; that’s because we are going to use some leftovers in two more meals this week.  This is a great tip to fire up your grill once, and get a couple of wonderful dishes from it.

8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt (greek-style is best)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 3 lemons
½ onion, chopped into large pieces (red or sweet variety is fine)
Fresh thyme leaves
Fresh chopped rosemary
Fresh chopped mint leaves
Fresh chopped parsley

First, take your boneless breasts and lay them between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them out to about 1 /12 times their original size using a mallet or small saucepan.  This will break down the protein strands in the chicken, tenderizing it, and also makes for a thinner piece of meat, which will cook more evenly and not dry out as quickly.  Now, you’re going to be left with huge chicken breast, so cut each one into 2 or three pieces.  Place chicken pieces into a large Ziploc bag.  Now, in a medium bowl, blend the yogurt, lemon juice and olive oil until smooth with a whisk.  Add in the herbs, salt & pepper, garlic, onions, and lemon juice/zest, and stir until well mixed. Pour the mixture into the bag with the chicken, seal well and shake to mix thoroughly.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Remove bag from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for about 20 minutes while you prepare your grill, broiler or grill pan.  Remove the chicken from the bag and lightly pat it dry, discarding any remaining marinade in the bag.  Cook the chicken over high heat until outside is slightly blistered and inside is cooked through.  Serve immediately and enjoy!       

Refrigerate the leftover chicken to reuse the next night with pasta and romesco sauce.

Grilled Summer Vegetables

Inexpensive Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Balsamic Vinegar
Yellow and Green Summer Squash/Zucchini, cut into vertical strips
Red Peppers, seeded and sliced into thick pieces
Asparagus, trimmed

Mix up some olive oil, vinegar and salt/pepper in a ziploc bag and shake.  Add the cut squash, peppers and asparagus and allow to sit for a few minutes while the grill warms up.  Grill all the vegetables together until tender and lightly charred.  Serve the peppers and squash warm with the chicken and sauce.  Set the asparagus aside for a summer salad tomorrow night. 

Grilled Corn on the Cob

6 ears of fresh corn
Olive Oil Salt
Chili Powder

Remove the husks and silk from the corn and soak the ears in a pan of water for a few moments.  Place the ears on the grill and turn frequently, brushing occasionally with a bit of olive oil.  Set on a platter and squeeze fresh lime evenly over the ears, turning to coat. .  Sprinkle well with good quality sea salt and chili powder.  Set 2 ears of corn aside for a salad later in the week and serve the rest warm with the grilled chicken, sauce and grilled summer veggies.

Penne with Chicken, Romesco Sauce and Peas

2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 box penne pasta
Leftover Romesco Sauce
Fresh parsley, chopped
Zest of one lemon
Olive oil
Parmesan Cheese, grated

Heat a large pot of water and salt fairly liberally (about 1 Tbsp).  Cook Pasta as directed.  While water is coming to a boil and pasta is cooking, slice your leftover chicken and remove your peas from the freezer, allowing them to start thawing.  Heat about 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan, and add the already cooked, sliced chicken.  Saute until warm.  Remove from heat and add the Romesco sauce and peas.

Once pasta is cooked to al dente, remove from heat and drain, reserving about 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta water to the heated Romesco and chicken in the pan, and toss in the cooked pasta.  Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, lemon zest and chopped fresh parsley.

Grilled Asparagus Salad

1 bunch of asparagus, marinated in balsamic and EVOO, grilled
1 small head of Bibb lettuce
¼ cup EVOO
1 tsp whole grain mustard
Juice and zest of one lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp capers

Wash your lettuce and pat dry, gently tearing leaves and lining a platter.  Lay your chilled, pre-grilled asparagus spears atop the greens.  Mix up the lemon juice and zest, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper and capers as a dressing; pour over the asparagus and greens.  Enjoy!

Chicken Flatbread Sandwiches with Hummus and Roasted Red Peppers

About 1 cup leftover Chick Pea Salad
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Crushed Red pepper
Leftover grilled red peppers, or jarred roasted red peppers
Bibb Lettuce
Grilled Chicken Breasts
Feta Cheese
Flatbread or Wraps

This is truly a mom’s night off dish!  First, you are going to make some quick hummus from the leftover chick pea salad.  Place the salad in the food processor, with a pinch of salt and crushed red pepper.  Puree.  Drizzle in additional olive oil and lemon juice while pulsing the food processor, until the spread becomes a nice creamy texture.  Season to taste with additional lemon zest or juice, and salt.

Spread the hummus on the flatbread, top with some sliced roasted or grilled red pepper and a leaf of bibb lettuce.  Slice the leftover grilled chicken breasts and top the lettuce, adding crumbled feta cheese if desired.   Feel free to add sliced cucumbers or any other leftover grilled vegetables you might have on hand too!  Now fold up the flatbreads and serve.  You could use wraps for this if you prefer too!  

This is a delicious, easy and colorful sandwich, and you can make a quick salad of watermelon, berries, pineapple and some fresh mint to enjoy alongside of it.

Grilled Rockfish

4 4-5 oz. fish fillets
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil – inexpensive
Lemon slices

Preheat your grill.  Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place the fish fillets on the foil and top with lemon slices.  Lay the foil on the grill and cook until done, about 12 minutes.

Watermelon, Feta and Olive Salad with Fresh Herbs
 I know.  You might be thinking, what the heck?  Why would you pair sweet, delicious, juicy watermelon with a cheese that smells like old feet? Trust me on this one – it’s divine.  The salty, briny feta cheese amplifies the sweetness in the melon, and makes for a perfect combination.  I pump up the brininess in this recipe with some kalamata olives, and balance it out with some mint and basil and a few red onions for texture.  It is an all time favorite side dish for my husband and frequent guests.

About 6 cups of watermelon, cubed into 1” squares
¼ red onion, sliced as thin as possible
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup fresh arugula, rough chopped
¾ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 oz. feta cheese, sliced into 1 inch by ¼ inch rectangles
1 Tbsp Good quality Olive Oil
Juice and Zest of 1 lime
1 Tbsp White Balsamic (or rice wine) vinegar
Dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce
Sea Salt and Fresh ground pepper to taste

Chop the watermelon, olives, feta, arugula, and herbs and mix together lightly.  Whisk up the remaining ingredients in a small bowl for the dressing and set aside.  Dress this dish just before serving and lightly toss, as the dressing will start to break down the melon fairly quickly.
You can omit the arugula if you like; it will make less volume, but still taste great.  I always have it on hand and I love the pepperiness it brings to the salad, and the color.  I’ve also added yellow cherry tomatoes (the Sungold variety) to this salad and it makes for a gorgeous rainbow of colors and adds some nice subtle acidity.  You can choose to add blueberries as well!  If your melon is not as sweet as you’d like, you can add 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar in the raw to your dressing too.  Go ahead and experiment – you really can’t mess this one up!

Herbed Basmati Rice

1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice, cooked as directed
Salt & Pepper to Taste
¼ cup chopped parsley and a bit of chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp Butter or good quality Olive Oil as preferred
Zest of one Lemon or Orange

Cook the rice as directed.  While it is cooking, chop your herbs.  Toss warm cooked rice with the herbs, oil or butter, salt and pepper and citrus zest and serve.

Grilled Flank Steak

1 (1 ½ lb.) Flank Steak
¼ cup inexpensive olive oil
1 tsp hot sauce
¼ cup red wine
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves minced garlic
juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste

Mix up the oil, vinegar, lime and seasonings in a Ziploc bag and add the whole flank steak.  Shake bag well and allow to marinate, refrigerated, for at least 12 and up to 48, hours.  Remove bag from fridge about one hour before cooking and allow to come to room temperature.  Heat up grill, and remove steak from marinade, patting dry and seasoning with additional salt and pepper.  Grill about 4-5 minutes on each side and allow to rest for 10 minutes, before slicing and serving.

Three-Herb Chimichurri Sauce

3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium shallots, peeled, quartered
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1  cup stemmed fresh parsley
1/2 cup stemmed fresh cilantro
1/2 cup stemmed fresh mint

Blend everything but the herbs in a food processor until smooth.  Remove the herbs form their stems and roughly chop before adding to food processor. Add the chopped herbs, all mixed together, to the processor in 3 batches and pulse until even and smooth.  Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, lemon, crushed red pepper, and honey. 

Mediterranean Roasted Potatoes

5 pound bag of baby/small red or Yukon gold potatoes
½ cup inexpensive olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 lemons, cut into wedges
1 shallot, roughly chopped
mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, basil
3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 425.  Rinse and dry potatoes and cut into quarters.  Chop the shallots, garlic and all of the herbs and toss with potatoes, oils, lemon wedges and salt and pepper in a medium-sized casserole dish.  Roast in preheated oven for about 30 minutes until potatoes are tender and nicely browned on the outside.  This makes a lot, but you’re going to use the leftovers another night for a lovely take on potato salad

Arugula, Blackberry and Summer Corn Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

4 cups baby arugula
1 pint fresh blackberries
2 ears of corn, cooked and cut off of the cob
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼ cup good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
One orange
1 tsp white wine or white balsamic vinegar

Place the greens in a bowl and top with blackberries, toasted almonds, corn cut off the cob, and feta cheese crumbles.  Take your orange and slice off both ends so you have a flat top and bottom.  Now, carefully with your knife, slice off the peel all around so you are left with the whole orange, cut into 2 halves, and then slice each half.  Add to the salad.   In a small bowl, mix up the EVOO, vinegar, salt and pepper and all the juice you can squeeze from the orange peels.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss lightly just before serving.

Grilled Honey-Glazed Pineapple Kabob Sundaes

Vanilla Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt
1 fresh pineapple
Bamboo skewers
2 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp melted butter

While your grill is heating, soak about 8 bamboo skewers in water.  Remove the spiny exterior from pineapple.  Cut out the tough core and cut the rest of the pineapple into large chunks.  Set aside.  Remove the skewers form the water and set aside.  Mix up the honey, cinnamon and melted butter into a glaze and our into a Ziploc bag.  Add the pineapple chunks to the glaze and gently shake bag to coat.  Pour pineapple and glaze into a bowl and thread the pineapple chunks onto the skewers. Grill just until caramelized and warm, turning the skewers to grill on all sides and brushing with additional glaze.  Remove the cooked pineapple from the skewers, and serve warm atop a scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt, drizzled with any additional glaze.

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

These burgers come together in a snap and the grated pear and egg help keep them moist and flavorful.  Be sure to cook all the way through since these are turkey, rather than beef burgers.  Serve with sliced cantaloupe and some slaw or potato salad for a nice summer barbeque meal!
1 ½ lb. lean ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup bread crumbs
3 tbsp chopped herbs such as thyme, parsley, rosemary, oregano
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp salt
1 Bosc pear, grated
4 Ciabatta or Multi-grain Buns
Sliced Tomatoes
Bibb Lettuce or other salad greens
Provolone Cheese

Preheat your grill.  First, grate the pear into a large bowl and add the beaten egg, bread crumbs, ground turkey, herbs, spices and salt.  Mix well and pat into burgers.

Grill each patty 5-7 minutes on each side, adding cheese for the last 2 minutes of cooking time.   Grill your buns for about one minute to toast, and assemble your burgers by layering the sliced tomatoes and salad greens with the patties.  Top with a bit of BBQ Sauce if desired.

Tuscan Potato, Green Bean and Olive Salad

2 pounds roasted fingerling or small new potatoes
1 pound green beans, trimmed
¼ cup olive oil
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs such as chives, thyme, basil, parsley, or mint
½ cups Kalamata olives, pitted
1 small basket grape tomatoes, halved
Mustard shallot vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Sit your leftover potatoes out on the counter and bring them to room temperature.  You could also do this in the microwave for a minute at 40% power. 

In a large saucepan cook beans in 3 inches salted boiling water over high heat until crisp-tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. With tongs or a slotted spoon transfer beans to colander with potatoes and drain well.  Plunge the potatoes into a bowl of ice water to prevent them from cooking further.  Remove and shake out to dry.  (you can also use the pre-cleaned beans in the bag and microwave them for about 2 ½ minutes to keep your kitchen cool and your cooking extra easy!).

In a large bowl toss together warm potatoes, beans, herbs, olives, tomatoes, and dressing and salt and pepper to taste.
For the Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or scallions
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice and zest of one large lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a bowl whisk together all the ingredients except the oil. Slowly add the oil in a stream.

Reeses Cup-Inspired Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches

8 bakery-style peanut butter cookies
Vanilla Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt
Mini Chocolate Chips

This is a great, super fast summer dessert, so easy that your kids can tackle it while you wrap up the evening’s dishes.  Spoon a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt onto a cookie.  This works best of it has been sitting out on the counter for about 7 minutes to soften. Lay a second cookie on top to make a sandwich and press down to evenly distribute the ice cream.  Roll ice cream sandwiches in the mini chocolate chips and wrap in waxed paper.  Return to freezer for at least 10 minutes (up to 7 days) and enjoy!

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