Get Your Summer On: Can you grill that? Really?
The American palate has never been more diverse: sriracha in every fridge with kombucha a close second; consumers tucking roasted seaweed snacks and Milkshake IPA's into their shopping carts; and a newly found love of the funk from kimchee to Brussels sprouts and cabbage (cabbage enchiladas anyone)?
Now that you're sprinkling za'atar, the popular Middle Eastern spice mix, on chicken and you're looking for orange "skin-contact" wine at Binny's, it's time to expand your summer grilling repertoire beyond burgers and bird. If you think grilling a kebab, flatbread or a head of Romaine is exotic, you ain't seen nothing yet.
A quick online search at myrecipes.com results in recipes for grilling garlic knots, tofu with peanut sauce and even apple pie.
Monique Costello, Health Educator and Nutritionist Chef (happyeatshealthy.com), suggests we begin with seasonality, "If we think about eating seasonally and locally, summer is the time our fruits and vegetables are at their peak," she said, "and eating seasonally and locally means our food will be more nutrient dense, have better flavor, and will cost less."
It's not just about keeping the heat out of the kitchen, either. "Placing any vegetable on the grill will create a deeper, sweeter flavor along with a hint of smokiness," the champion recipe developer explained. "Grill sliced vegetables then layer over grilled focaccia with smear of hummus for a delicious summer salad. You've heard of cauliflower steaks? How about trying a cabbage steak -- just slice it thick, brush each slice with olive oil and add a few spices like a curry or just salt and pepper. Grilled a carrots are delicious and pretty too when you choose a rainbow of colors. Use the carrot tops instead of basil to make a pesto for a simple root-to-stalk cooking experience."
The one-on-one health coach who offers private cooking classes, Clean Food Cleanse programs and allergy-free garden-to-table dinners, loves to grill fruits, too.
"Pineapple gets a lot of spotlight, but try grilling watermelon slices and then tossing with a few slices of grilled red onion, feta and fresh basil and arugula for a super easy salad."
Take advantage of early summer's fresh berry haul and try Costello's recipe for strawberries (tossing them on the grill for just a few minutes creates a warm, intense flavor) topped with dark chocolate and a little dairy-free whipped cream or ice cream for a absurdly simple dessert.
The newly appointed Executive Chef at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa (www.grandgeneva.com), Nelly Buleje, is wowing visitors to the popular Lake Geneva resort with new flavors and techniques such as building the resort's own custom dry-age box for special whisky-aged rib steaks (one of the few kitchens in the U.S. to offer these steaks). Diners are loving the new nose-to-tail offerings using limited production Uplands Creamery heirloom hogs, too.
A seasoned professional, Buleje draws upon his Peruvian, Guatemalan and Mexican family background, Midwest upbringing and world travels for menu inspiration. Like this Grilled Plantain Split, on Page X, a fun, unexpected grilled dessert dish that's great for all ages.