Late spring has ushered in days that start out chilly and tip dangerously close to hot during the afternoons. The long days are sunny into the early evenings and the intense rain is subsiding as we get ready for summer.
It’s at this exact time of year that I’m the most comfortable outside – if even for a brief few weeks. This is because the weather has warmed up enough that people have decided it’s time to turn the thermostat down to about 65 degrees, such that every office, home, and restaurant feels slightly morgue-like.
It’s at this exact time of the year, coincidentally, that I switch from minimizing my exposure to the cold of winter and chill of early spring to minimizing my exposure to the cold indoors. As the thermostat pendulum swings into the warmer weather, I plot ways to spend as much time outside
as it takes to cook dinner without working up a sweat. So, I have taken up the tongs and fired up the grill, with a t-shirt on while I’m outside and a hoodie at the ready for when I have to go back inside. Here are some of the things that I’ve been grilling lately for your inspiration:
These chicken wings had a great tangy flavor from the generous portion of red wine vinegar that I used in the marinade. The marinade is a blend of red wine vinegar, dry ranch seasoning, hot sauce, olive oil, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, and Cajun seasoning.
I served these wings with grilled zucchini, bell pepper, and a few slices* (three each – I counted and weighed each portion carefully!) of marinated steak.
*Pro tip: freeze individual portions of meat with different marinades, label carefully, and be a weeknight dinner hero with an effortless meal.
Steak marinated with Worcestershire sauce, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, a bit of brown sugar, and black pepper adds a delicious, savory flavor.
I went a different direction for a Mexican twist on steak with a marinade that was a blend of olive oil, lime juice, pureed cilantro and parsley, garlic, and Mexican hot sauce (my favorite is Tapatio).
This chicken breast was marinated in soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, mustard, olive oil, garlic, black pepper, and honey. Right before cooking, I wrapped the chicken with thick-cut bacon and secured with a toothpick, then added a touch of cayenne to the bacon. I topped the chicken with some melted muenster for the last couple of minutes on the grill.
These stuffed, marinated portobello mushrooms are a bit less healthy, but are fantastic. The marinade is a mixture of white wine, basil-infused olive oil, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar with thyme, garlic salt, and oregano.
The mushrooms are stuffed with sautéed zucchini and summer squash cooked in olive oil with finely shredded onions, chopped sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pesto, crushed red pepper flakes, and a mixture of chèvre and cream cheese. Set the filling aside, covered and wrapped, at room temperature while you cook the inside of the mushrooms. Spoon the filling in as the underside grills to perfection and heats the filling.
I made kebabs last weekend with jump shrimp, marinated steak, mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, onions, and – wait for it – brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts cook really nicely on the grill and enhance their slightly bitter taste.
And this kebab dinner has zucchini, yellow squash, steak, and cabbage.
What are your favorite marinades and things to grill?