Grill and chill this 4th of July weekend with these 3 mouthwatering dishes
As July 4th approaches and the grilling season officially kicks off, it’s time to think about some new ideas. Sure, you can serve up burgers and hot dogs this holiday weekend (millions will) – but why not think outside the box?
Like this Indian-inspired chicken skewer. Boneless pieces of chicken are marinated in yogurt, coconut milk, and spices like turmeric, ginger, cumin and chili powder. The chicken is placed on metal or wooden skewers (which must be soaked in cold water so as not to burn!) Accompanied by very thin slices of zucchini or summer squash and cherry tomatoes. It’s a simple dish that can be made ahead of time and served with cool, refreshing yogurt, rice, and Indian bread or pita.
One of the fastest and easiest grilling dishes imaginable is a bundle of fresh clams, green onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Simply wrap the cherry-stone clams in a large piece of foil and garnish with chopped tomatoes, garlic, green onions and a splash of olive oil. You can also add chunks of spicy chorizo. The package is tightly closed and placed on a hot grill. The clams release their brackish liquid and mix with aromatics and olive oil to create an instant sauce. You can serve everyone their own package of clams with toasted French bread or serve the clams over pasta.
While most of us don’t think of grilling when it comes to desserts, there are plenty of great ways to toast summer fruit. Here I take the first summer peaches, cut them in half, remove the pit and sprinkle them with a touch of sugar. They go on the grill, cut side down and cook until just tender and the sugar is caramelized – just a few minutes per side. The grilled peach is then cooled and filled with crÃ¨me fraÃ®che, yogurt, whipped or ice cream and garnished with edible flowers.
Hot tip: Whatever you grill, you want to make sure your grill is perfectly clean. If you heat the grates properly and clean them thoroughly, your food won’t stick and you won’t need to oil the grill or baskets.
Indian spiced chicken skewers
Boneless chicken thigh and breast pieces are marinated in yogurt, coconut milk and a variety of Indian spices. The yogurt tenderizes the meat and the spices and coconut milk create a thick and aromatic paste.
The chicken is on a skewer with slices of zucchini and / or summer squash and cherry tomatoes. You can easily add fresh snow peas, onion strips, or any vegetable you like. Serve with a bowl of plain yogurt, rice, hot bread and chutney.
The chicken and its marinade:
- 1 Â½ teaspoons of garam masala
- 1 Â½ teaspoons of ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- About 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil
- 1 cup of whole coconut milk
- Â½ cup of plain, whole yogurt
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 Â½ inch pieces
- 1 large zucchini, cut into very thin slices
- 1 yellow summer squash, cut into very thin slices
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
- Combine the spices in a large bowl. If you don’t like a lot of heat, use 1/8 teaspoon of chili powder; if you like it spicier, use Â¼ teaspoon. Add the oil, coconut milk, yogurt and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- If you are using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in cold water for at least an hour and up to several hours to prevent them from burning.
- Using 4 long metal skewers or 8 small wooden skewers, arrange the chicken, squash slices and tomatoes on the skewers, alternating the ingredients. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Preheat a charcoal or gas barbecue to 400 degrees. Thoroughly clean the grates. Use a pastry brush or a kitchen spoon to spread the remaining marinade over the chicken and vegetables. Grill the skewers for 8 minutes on one side. Gently flip the skewers and grill for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through and the squash is tender.
Packets of clams with green onions, tomatoes, garlic and chorizo
You can prepare these clam pouches a few hours in advance and refrigerate them until ready to grill. Add chunks of spicy chorizo ââif you like, but this dish is just as tasty without the meat. This clam dish makes a great main or first course and can be served as is with toasted crusty bread or poured over pasta.
The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd. You can also replace the clams with fresh mussels.
For 2 to 4.
- 2 large green onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 garlic clove, minced or very finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped cooked chorizo, cut into Â½ inch pieces, optional
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- 16 hollow clams or 12 cherry clams
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cut two or four pieces of foil about 4 inches by 5 inches. If this is a main course, you’ll want to add 8 clams to each package; if it’s a first course, you can add 4 clams and make 4 packages. Spread the green onion, garlic, chorizo ââif using and tomatoes at the bottom of the foil and garnish with clams. Pour the oil over it and season with pepper. You won’t need the salt because the clams are so salty. Wrap the sachets tightly in aluminum foil so that the juice does not escape.
- Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to around 400 degrees. Place a grid or basket on the grid and clean the grates and the grid. Place the clam pouches on the grill pan (or directly on the grates if you don’t have a pan or basket) and grill for about 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully, with an oven mitt, open the package to see if the clams have split open. The clams just need to be split open and the juice sizzling. If the clams have not opened, close the packages carefully and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot.
Grilled Peaches With Fresh Cream
Grilling the fruit brings out the natural sugars and lends itself to all kinds of experimentation. Here, I keep it simple by pitting the peaches and sprinkling them with a touch of sugar. Half of the peach is grilled, sugar side down, for a few minutes then grilled on the other side.
After the peach has cooled, you can fill the cavity with fresh cream, whipped cream, yogurt or even ice cream. Sprinkle with edible flowers. This recipe works well with all stone fruits – plums, apricots, and even cherries.
For 2 to 4.
- 2 ripe peaches
- About 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
- About Â½ cup of crÃ¨me fraÃ®che, Greek yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream
- Edible flowers, optional
- Preheat the grill to hot, about 400 degrees. Place a vegetable rack on the hot racks and clean the rack thoroughly. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. Sprinkle the cut side with sugar, about Â½ to 1 tablespoon per half depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Place the fruit sugar side down on a wire rack or basket, or place it directly on the hot racks if you do not have a rack. Grill for about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the peach and grill for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until the peach is softened and hot. Let cool to room temperature and fill the cavity where the core was with cream or yogurt. Garnish with edible flowers or a touch of grated lime zest.
Other grilling ideas:
Editor’s Note: In the segment, we suggested using a steel wire brush to clean the grille. However, doctors have warned that the use of wire brushes could be dangerous for your health.