Summer Time: Grillin’ and Chillin’
When it’s summer time, I love to grill. There’s just something about sitting outside, smelling the smoke emanating from the kettle grill, and having simple, unpretentious food that just allows you to enjoy great weather and great company. When the weather was nice one day and we didn’t have to deal with all the rain that has been sporadically occurring in Nashville all summer, the family found some time to engage in the All American Tradition of having a Grill Out. We decided to make a bunch of little things and enjoy them with our new favorite cocktail!
While you’re outside, take time to relax. Don’t worry about putting everything out in courses. Just put stuff into big bowls and put it on the table as it’s ready. People will love the ease of the night and they can take as much or as little as they please.
First up, was our Grape Cocktail:
Grape Cocktail: (serves 4)
1 bottle of dry white wine (we used Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 bunch of red grapes, sliced in half
a handful of mint and/or basil leaves
3 T honey
Mix together the grapes, lemon slices, mint/basil leaves, and honey. Muddle them together in a pitcher until they come together. Pour the wine over the fruit mixture and let sit for about 10 minutes to get the flavors going. You should serve this cold (by chilling it in the fridge), or pour it over ice. It’s an incredibly refreshing drink for the summer.
TIP: If you want to make this non alcoholic, try white grape juice instead of the wine, and leave out the honey.
Now, that we got the drinks covered, here is what we made for dinner. First up was a Red Cabbage Slaw. We all love eating cabbage salads because the cabbage stays incredible crunchy and is a canvas for a lot of different flavors. Ours here has lots of apples, red onions, and pea shoots.
Red Cabbage Slaw (Serves 4)
1/2 head of red cabbage, thinly shredded
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 apple (we used Pink Lady), julienned
2 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of pea shoots (or any type of herb, like dill or parsley)
First, make the dressing. Whisk the mustard and vinegar together, and slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
Second, combine all ingredients for the salad, toss with the dressing, and then add the pea shoots or herbs. Mix to combine everything and you’re done!
After eating the salad, we had some couscous and tomato salad.
Couscous Salad with Grilled Eggplant, herbs, raisins (serves 4)
1/2 cup couscous
1 small eggplant, sliced and grilled
1/2 cup of chopped herbs (mint, basil, parsley is what we used. You could use anything you have)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T golden raisins
2 T slivered almonds
Couscous is so easy to make that it’s a great recipe for the summertime. Take 1/2 cup of cold water, and pour it over the couscous. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, and once all the water is absorbed, use a fork to break it up. Voila, you have couscous. Mix all the other ingredients into the couscous, season with salt and pepper, and now you have a great side dish (or main dish for vegetarians).
Tomato Salad with Garlic, Basil
This is a great tomato salad recipe and couldn’t be simpler to prepare.
1 pint of cherry tomatoes (heirloom if you can get them), halved
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
a handful of basil, chiffonade (or torn by hand)
2 T balsamic vinegar
3 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Combine all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.
Balsamic Chicken Thighs with Black Pepper and Dijon Mustard (serves 4)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 T ground black pepper
2 T dijon mustard
Combine the vinegar, black pepper, and mustard. Pour over the chicken thighs and let marinate for about 4 hours.
Heat the grill to high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and season with salt. Throw them on the hot grill. Cook for about 6 minutes on each side until they have a nice crust and are cooked all the way through. Take them off the grill and let them rest for about 5 minutes so the juices redistribute.
I hope you try out this menu, it’s really pretty easy to put together and it’ll allow you to enjoy your next grilling experience.