Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Mystery Menu

Doug asked for the menu for the easy-to-make summer dinner that fits most dietary requirements. The philosophy behind it is that these are three healthy, hearty dishes and most diets will allow two of them.

1. Grilled meat or fish

The first time, we did steak rubbed with olive oil, garlic, and herbs. The second time, it was salmon cooked in a non-stick fish basket. I think we're going to stay away from chicken because it's fussier on the grill, marinades and basting sauces are a pain, and skinless chicken comes out too dry for company

2. Grilled green vegetables sprinkled with oil and herbs (A large amount — it's amazing how people eat more grilled vegetables than boiled/steamed.)

We grill them in a "dish" of aluminum foil (though you could also use a grilling basket). Thus far, we've grilled green beans, asparagus, and thick-sliced zucchini (this last one sprinkled with oregano, basil, and parsley). If you've got adventurous guests, try cooking the green beans with anchovies, garlic, halved cherry tomatoes, and black olives (a Naked Chef recipe).

You can also do nice things to the veggies after grilling them, like sprinkling chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes over the zucchini or a little lemon zest over the asparagus.

3. Steamed baby potatoes (the little white, red, and purple ones)

We cut these in half, steam them, and dress them in a vinaigrette. They're pretty! You can serve this dish hot or cold. Depending on the dietary interests of your guests, and how much time you have, you can go with a vegan vinaigrette, a creamy dressing, or a hot honey-mustard dressing with or without bacon. Chopped fresh parsley dresses this up nicely.

While working on these "company" dishes, I made an interesting discovery. I always get frustrated when I cook some cool dish and then discover the only serving dish it fits in is ugly. In this case, I put the vegetables, and the potatoes, into large, attractive serving dishes before I cooked them, and then cooked the amount of food that would fit into the dish.

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. I've had good luck putting zucchini and eggplant directly on the grill, if you drag them through olive oil first. I did brussel sprouts on the grill the other night, wrapped in foil, with good results.