By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA
One of my favorite aspects of summer is the simplicity of summer meals. I tend to gravitate towards meals that are easy to prepare while incorporating the freshness of seasonal ingredients. When I’m cooking at home, I love to make use of the outdoor grill and yard as a way to stay out of a hot kitchen and keep cleanup to a minimum.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind…
- Plan your menu around the grill. This is the one time of year you can really make use of outdoor cooking. From meats to veggies, the grill is an easy no-mess station for cooking all your summer fare, right down to fruits such as peaches and pineapple.
- Keep your cool. Jazz up cold drinks with frozen grapes, berries & fruit juice ice cubes.
- Think “less-mess”. Cover a grill tray in aluminum foil, cook fish, vegetables and potatoes right on the same surface. Food goes from grill to plate with super easy cleanup – you don’t even have to scrape the grill clean.
- Make-ahead recipes. Crunched for time? Go for “make-ahead” items such as salads both lettuce based and grain based, baked potatoes, and chicken, which can be cooked in advanced and reheated when ready to eat.
Ideas for Easy light summer suppers:
- Quinoa salad: Combine 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup feta cheese, 2 tbsp pine nuts, 1 cup sliced plum tomatoes, 1/4 cup diced red onion and 2 handfuls wilted spinach. *Make-ahead friendly
- Grilled Chicken and vegetables: Prepare chicken breast by seasoning with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Grill on high heat for about 6 minutes per side or internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Prepare sliced eggplant and zucchini by seasoning with your favorite herbs and spices, brush with olive oil. Grill on high eat for about 5-7 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached. *Make-ahead friendly
- Portobello Mushroom burger w/ mango salsa: Brush Portabello mushroom cap with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, grill on high heat for about 5 minutes per side. Just before removing from grill top with one slice favorite cheese. Meanwhile, slice open a whole grain bun and top with sliced avocado and store bought mango salsa. Top with Portobello mushroom cap and serve.
Grilled Vegetable Panini w/ Olive Tapenade Spread
Makes: 4 servings
- 1 Portobello mushroom cap
- 1 green bell pepper, cut in half
- 1 red bell pepper, cut in half
- 1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch thickness
- 1 small yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch thickness
- 1 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 slices crusty whole grain bread
- 4 tablespoons Store bought olive tapenade spread (usually next to jarred olives)
- 1 package Arugula lettuce
- 4 ounces feta cheese
- Heat outdoor grill (or grill pan indoors) over medium-high heat. Place mushroom, bell peppers, zucchini and squash in a large dish and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, toss to coast.
- Place vegetables on the hot grill and cook until tender and lightly browned. Flip half way through. Transfer to a plate. Slice mushroom cap and bell peppers into strips.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and toast bread on each side. Remove from heat and spread 1 tbsp olive tapenade over one side of each slice. On two slices of bread follow with 1 ounce of feta cheese, 1 handful of the arugula and grilled vegetables. Cover with remaining slice of bread. Brush outside of sandwiches with olive oil. Place on grill for 2-3 minutes or until edges are crisp, turn over and grill other side for 2-3 minutes more. Remove from grill, cut and half and serve.
Recipe by Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA