Something a little different for a cook out
With all the very warm weather we had back in March, I’m sure everyone’s grills have already been used.
But still, Memorial Day weekend is the official kick-off for summer, and traditionally the weekend we get together with friends and family for a cook out.
While many people now use gas grills, my husband and I still fire up our charcoal grill whenever we want to cook a steak, vegetables or chicken. I particularly like the afterglow of the coals from a charcoal grill so I don’t expect we’ll be upgrading to gas for sometime to come.
Now is also the time to start accumulating some good, tasty, and perhaps different recipes for serving at our own cook out, or for bringing to someone else’s.
Pasta and potato salads are favorites, along with green salads and vegetable salads. A couple of my newest finds will follow.
Along with grilling steaks, pork chops, and chicken, are other slightly different methods for serving these favorites. Kebabs can be made from almost any meat. I recently found a tasty recipe for one of my favorite winter meats, Polish kielbasi. I often serve it during the cold months in stews or mixed with tomatoes. I generally use turkey kielbasa rather than pork because it is slightly less fatty.
The weather has been very summery during the past few days, and with luck, it will remain that way for Memorial Day services and cook outs.
Kielbasi Kebabs (4-5 servings)
1 and one-half pounds kielbasa, cut into three-quarter inch slices
2 green peppers, cut into slices
1 cup pineapple chunks
2 onions, cut into wedges
One-half cup plum jelly
4 tablespoons chili sauce
one-quarter teaspoon ginger
one-half teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
Combine all basting ingredients in a saucepan and heat and stir over medium heat until well blended. Fill skewers with kielbasa and vegetables, starting and ending with slices of kielbasa. Brush completely with the sauce.
Place over medium coals. Turn several times, adding more sauce if necessary, until kebabs are light brown. Serve with a cold salad or on a long bun.
Italian-styled Bean and Pasta Salad (6 servings)
1 pound penne, elbows, bows, rotini or other small pasta, cooked and cooled (colored pasta is more festive
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 or 3 ounces of a favorite cheese, cut into small chunks
1 or 2 tomatoes, cut into small wedges
Three-quarters cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
one-quarter cup chopped fresh or frozen parsley
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
one-half teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil)
one-half teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
one-quarter teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of red pepper flakes
3 or 4 large garlic cloves, minced
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and process for one minute. Adjust for taste, if necessary. Prepare all salad ingredients. Pour dressing over salad. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
The following salad has a fresh, crisp taste. I look forward to making it with my own dill, parsley and cucumbers during the summer, but for now, those found in the supermarket will do.
Dilly Cucumber Salad (serves 7-8)
2 large cucumbers, peeled or not, and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 green pepper, chopped
3 green onions, sliced, or one-quarter cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
one-third cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped dill weed
In a bowl, sprinkle sliced cucumbers with salt. Let stand for at least 20 minutes, then drain, rinse and pat dry.
Mix in pepper, onion and parsley. Combine the vinegar, sugar, if using, olive oil, and dill weed. Pour over the cucumbers.
Chill at least 2 hours, or overnight. When serving, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
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