I love the summer because our meals naturally become lighter and fresher. There are so many delicious options you have for summer eating, and because so many fruits and vegetables are in season, it's really cheap too!
I first really fell in love with grilled vegetables while I was living in Japan. One type of restaurant I frequented often was yaki nikku (grilled meat) restaurants. Yes, they served all sorts of meat (and things I wouldn't consider meat, but I won't go into details), but they also served up trays of vegetables you could grill right at your table on the built-in grill. Ahhh, so good.
Today's walkthrough takes you to a picnic table. Fire up a grill and try some of these fresher options and ditch the routine hamburger, hot dog and brats for summer grilling days. (Well, honestly, I don't ditch them completely, but they're certainly not standard fare in my home ;-)
1. Grill portobello mushrooms instead of burgers--these mushrooms are meaty and delicious. You can find them in your local grocery stores, and I've even found them in bulk at Sam's for a great price. They go great in a hamburger bun with your favorite cheese and fresh toppings. Or, I think next time I make them, I'll try this recipe from Rachael Ray!
2. I'm terrible at remembering to make side dishes--after I've gone to all the trouble to make a main course, I just don't have the energy to throw anything else together. But summer grilling takes this problem away. I've found that a fresh vegetable splashed with EVOO, salt, and pepper makes any grilled veggie delish! Sometimes I throw in some balsamic vinegar, sliced garlic, or my favorite salad dressing. Here's some of my favorite grilled veggies--zucchini, red onions, bell peppers, carrots (slice long ways, yum!), and tomatoes (balsamic vinegar and plop them on a crostini for your own bruschetta, add fresh mozzarella and basil if you're feeling fancy).
3. Another family fav comes from the Mexican influence of my hubby's side of the family--Everything tastes better with lime and hot peppers. Try using this principle next time you serve up some cucumbers. Peel the cucumber, slice, salt lightly, then squeeze lime juice over the slices and finish off with a dash of cayenne pepper. Hubby doesn't usually eat all of his veggies like a good boy, but he can polish off a full plate of these!
4. And still reminiscing about my days in Japan, one of my favorite sides to order in Japan was niniku (garlic). They would bring an aluminum foil boat filled with peeled garlic cloves drizzled with olive oil. We just plopped the boat on the grill and when the garlic was soft enough to poke with a fork, we popped them like candy. Move over fries, you can't beat garlic--plus you have the added bonus of a natural insect repellent ;-)
Which grilled veggie/fruit delights am I missing? Please share some new ideas I can implement in the comments. Can't wait to try them!
**Just searching for pictures for this blog reminded me of other grilled favorites: corn on the cob, grilled peaches, grilled eggplant, and one I want to try--grilled bananas!)