This was also our first time to have people over to our new house for dinner. Husband and I teamed up to create an easy, casual meal that was just perfect to celebrate our dear-old-dads. Mops even donned a new party dress for the occasion.
While I was busy
torturing my small dog making appetizers, Husband handled chicken on the smoker (possibly the best smoked chicken I’ve ever tasted). He rubbed the chicken down with apple cider vinegar, then used our current favorite rub (Butt Rub – that’s the real name, I promise), and garlic salt for flavor. He smoked the chicken – which included wings, breasts, thighs, and drumsticks (all skin-on, bone-in) at 200 Fahrenheit. It was fantastic. Look at the bark on that chicken!
The chicken ended up stealing the show. But, I never let fear of overkill run my kitchen, do I? So, in addition to the chicken, we bought an array of locally-made sausages (some of my favorite flavors: blue cheese & black pepper, plus red wine & Parmesan). I made a dad-approved appetizer (my pimento cheese dip). On the side, we had my mother-in-law’s squash casserole (I didn’t even get a picture of it because it was so delicious that I couldn’t take the time to arrange it nicely) and smoked baked beans (Husband’s favorite).
My mom – the undisputed Salad Queen of the South, someone get her a tiara – made a fantastic, garden-fresh salad with corn, basil, avocado, tomatoes, mango, and more. Although I love to make and eat salad, I lack her ingenuity. I could more appropriately be dubbed the “Girl Who Thinks Anything Served on Greens is Salad.”
It’s a perfect make-ahead dish that you can impress guests with at arrival to a summer dinner party. The shrimp and asparagus are great chilled. Just grill them, fix the salad, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until right before serving.
- 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon Italian spice blend
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup radish, finely chopped
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup pineapple, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- One 14 ounce can hearts of palm, drained and rinsed, sliced into rings
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Optional ingredients to consider: fresh avocado, chickpeas, grilled corn, fresh basil, and roasted red peppers.
- Thaw shrimp to room temperature (if frozen). Prepare a marinade with 1/4 cup of olive oil (reserve the remaining olive oil), balsamic vinegar, and one teaspoon of minced fresh garlic. Marinate for at least one hour, or up to three hours.
- Prepare washed and trimmed asparagus for the grill by arranging in a single layer on a plate or tray, then drizzling with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, and the remaining teaspoon of fresh garlic.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat and add shrimp and asparagus. Scatter Italian seasoning blend evenly over the shrimp and asparagus. Cook for about four minutes per side, until starting to brown, then turn over and cook for about three minutes. Remove from heat and place on a clean tray.
- Toss remaining vegetables in a large bowl. Add shrimp after it has cooled for a couple of minutes.
- Let asparagus cool slightly, then slice in thirds for more “bite sized” pieces and add to the salad bowl.
- Top with white wine vinegar, remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine, then serve in a large bowl.