Summer grilling season is here and we are rejoicing at being able to to take the Sparkle Kitchen to the patio for the next few months. Citronella candles set the mood and the never-ending symphony of dogs barking at each other or making intense eye contact while panting provides the perfect ambiance while the mosquitoes treat themselves to an all-you-can-eat human buffet. Just kidding. I love summer and I love grilling.
I wanted to share some of our recent grilling ideas to inspire your next dinner outside, although they aren’t really “recipes”, just methods that we really enjoy.
Grilled Asparagus: trim asparagus stalks by about two inches. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, and a little bit of Italian salad dressing with salt and pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Just before sealing shut, add a couple of tablespoons of pesto and some crumbled, fresh feta cheese. Check grill package a couple of times until asparagus is cooked to your liking (I like mine pretty blackened).
Stuffed Jalapenos: remove the top from a fresh jalapeno (buy the largest you can find at the store). Scrape out all of the seeds. Rinse jalapeno out with water (to further dull the spice). In a separate bowl, mash together cream cheese, cheddar cheese and Cajun spice blend with a fork. Stuff into the jalapeno opening. Wrap each jalapeno with one slice of bacon (I recommend higher-quality, leaner bacon). Secure with a toothpick, or wrap in aluminum foil. Grill until bacon is cooked, about 20 minutes.
Leftover bundles: when we have leftover meat from a restaurant, one of my favorite ways to refresh it into a new dinner is to make a grill package. We had leftover pulled pork from a Mexican restaurant. I added a touch of chopped jalapeno, lime, fresh cilantro, a sweet potato, spinach, and onions. I wrapped the mixture in aluminum foil and we cooked it until the flavors came together brilliantly and the liquid inside was bubbling. Cook until sweet potatoes are soft. Serve with sliced avocado.
If you’re like me, you need something to graze on while your food is grilling. This recipe is a basic caprese recipe that I modified with fresh peaches. I apologize that the photos have that odd, blurred effect. I don’t believe any ghosts were involved in the making of this appetizer.
I serve my caprese more like a salad, with basil as the leafy base. The purpose of slicing the basil is to release some of its fragrance and flavor into the rest of the dish, rather than concentrating it into each bite. The clean, fresh basil aroma makes bruschetta or caprese, in my book.
It’s the perfect light appetizer that you can enjoy from your deck while backseat-grilling (Husband’s
endearing term for my “enthusiasm” and eagerness to share grill tips while he actually does the work. Sorry that I’m so helpful).
Serves 2 as a salad
You will need:
- 1 large, ripe peach
- 10-12 cherub tomatoes (or other flavorful miniature type of tomato)
- ~1/3 cup buffalo mozzarella
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp. each olive oil and balsamic vinegar (adjust to preference)
- Drizzle lemon juice (optional)
- Thinly slice peach in quarters, working around the pit.
- Slice tomatoes in half length-wise
- Thinly slice buffalo mozzarella
- Roll basil leaves and slice across the center of the vein (i.e. slice horizontally rather than vertically) into non-uniform sizes.
- Arrange with basil leaves on the bottom of the dish, scattered around.
- Layer sliced peaches with buffalo mozzarella and spread mozzarella pieces around tomato chunks.
- Drizzle olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice over the arranged salad. Serve immediately.