On the Side
Grilling season takes most of the main-dish cooking outdoors, and grilled veggies are often a good side, but sometimes too much smoke is just too much smoke flavor. Take those veggies back inside for some quick and simple flavor combos on the range; they make nice accompaniments to the marinated and the grilled. I have arranged these recipes into potential menus, but feel free to mix and match, or substitute simple corn on the cob or baked potatoes or rice—whatever strikes your fancy or is in season.
Rustic and Elegant
Marinate salmon filets for up to 20 minutes in a touch of soy sauce and minced garlic, or use a dry rub (Savory Spice Shop has many flavorful options for fish). Grill until barely cooked through. Serve with:
1 red potato per serving, scrubbed and cut into 1" pieces
about 1/8 onion per serving, minced
a pinch of minced fresh rosemary or thyme per serving
good quality olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes until not quite tender. Drain and immediately turn in to hot skillet with enough olive oil to coat the pan. Add onions and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat until all sides of the potato chunks are lightly browned, turning as they brown. Add herbs and lower heat for a minute or two, tossing to distribute the herbs. Serve hot.
Sautéing caramelizes the asparagus and brings out the nutty sweetness, the walnuts add a nice astringency and crunch.
One bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
2 tablespoons walnuts roughly chopped
1 small clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter or walnut oil
15 minutes before serving, heat two tablespoons butter until foamy; add the asparagus and walnuts. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Uncover and cook 4 minutes, stirring often until lightly brown. Move asparagus to edges of pan and add 1 teaspoon butter. When melted, add the garlic and stir the garlic and butter for 30 seconds, then stir in the asparagus to coat. Serve immediately.
Marinate pork or tofu for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours in soy sauce, minced garlic, freshly grated ginger and honey. Grill as usual.
Sesame Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans
canola or peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
black sesame seeds
Trim beans and cut into 1" pieces. Heat oil in wok or skillet and add beans and garlic. Stir fry for a few minutes. Add soy sauce and cover for 5 minutes over medium low heat. Uncover and stir fry, cover again until beans are crisp-tender. Some beans will take longer to cook...test them to make sure they don't overcook and become soggy. Finish with sesame oil and seeds. Serve immediately.
This is a great recipe to do ahead, as it is actually a kind of fresh pickle, popular in Chinese cuisine. The julienne can be done in a food processor if you have the proper blade.
1-1/2 cups fresh carrots, cut small julienne
1-1/2 cups peeled cucumber, cut small julienne
1-1/2 cups radish or daikon, cut small julienne
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
Place vegetables in separate bowls and toss each with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Rinse with cold water and drain, then blot with paper towel. Put vegetables into large glass or other non-reactive bowl and toss with dressing. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. This can be garnished with some chopped cilantro, if you are inclined.
Use your favorite chili powder and some salt as a dry rub for steak, drizzle with oil and set aside for 30 minutes. Grill to your desired degree of doneness.
Spicy Corn Off the Cob
At least one ear of corn per serving, cut off the cob (use a serrated knife or, if you have an electric knife: brilliant!)
1/4 cup mixed peppers per serving (I like poblano chiles and sweet red peppers), diced
1/2 clove garlic per serving (depends on size of the clove...use your discretion)
a sprinkle of ground cumin
salt to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet, add the peppers and sauté for a few minutes. Add the garlic and heat through, then add the corn, cumin and salt. Stir to combine, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Keep an eye on it, and if it begins to stick at all, lower the heat. If you are cooking for a crowd, this will take longer as there will be more corn to heat through. Plan to lower the heat and at least double the time if serving more than 4.
Sauteed Leeks or Spring Onions
Small leeks or spring onions
Salt and pepper
Thoroughly wash the leeks between leaves to remove all grit. Trim leeks to just where the white and green meet, and remove root right at the base or trim spring onions at the top of the greens and at the root. Melt butter in large skillet and lay leeks or onions in a single row in the bottom. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, rolling to turn until lightly browned. Pour chicken stock over to about half-way up the onions, grind some pepper over and simmer on low until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. The time will vary depending on the size and age of the onions. Stock will reduce and concentrate, so taste to see if it even needs any salt. Serve hot.
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