While the national cooking and entertaining magazines are proclaiming that it's finally grilling season, here in sunny south Louisiana, we've been grilling for months. In fact, with our temperate climate, we can enjoy outdoor entertaining year-round.
Plenty of us do, judging from the number of our friends and acquaintances who have either purchased homes with lovely, spacious outdoor kitchens or added high-end grills and outdoor appliances to their existing homes. Outdoor entertaining appears more popular than ever.
And why not? Enjoying the company of family and friends around the pool or in the garden is one of the nicest ways to share a meal. So here's a menu for a mixed-grill dinner, a favorite of ours because it's easy to throw together and can be relatively inexpensive. It's casual and hassle-free, which means you can relax and spend time visiting with your guests instead of scurrying around cooking.
To keep things cost-effective, invite your guests to bring one type of meat or protein—chicken, steak, fresh sausages, lamb or seafood. Make a quick marinade to toss the meats in, then throw everything on the grill while everyone is busy visiting. It's that simple.
To serve with the meats, we suggest an easy side dish of roasted farm vegetables tossed with quinoa. Quinoa is fairly new to the American market but has been around since the ancient Incas. It is a considered a “super grain” because it contains more protein than any other grain. It also has all eight amino acids, making it a complete protein as well. Quinoa is as easy to make as rice and can be found at most local grocery stores, including Calvin's Bocage Market, Calandro's and Whole Foods. As always, a favorite spot to find beautiful seasonal fresh vegetables and protein such as lamb and chicken is the Red Stick Farmers Market.
1 to 1½ lbs. fresh sausage of your choice
2 lbs. lamb chops
1 to 1½ lbs. chicken breasts
1½ lbs. jumbo shrimp, peeled (leave tail on) and deveined
1 Render some of the fat off the fresh sausage by bringing a large skillet, filled halfway up with water, to a simmer. Add the sausages and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the sausages and allow them to cool. Set them aside until you are ready to grill.
2 Place the lamb chops, chicken breasts and shrimp in three separate dishes and cover each meat with a third of the marinade. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
½ tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
½ tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1½ cups olive oil
1 In a mixing bowl, combine the garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and mustard to make a paste.
2 Whisk in the vinegar and olive oil and divide it over the various meats.
3 Cover the meat and chill for 30 minutes to an hour.
4 Before grilling, allow the meats to come to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
5 Preheat the grill to high for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and place the chicken and lamb directly over the heat.
6 Grill the lamb for 5 to 7 minutes on each side and the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, depending on their thickness.
7 Move the chicken and lamb off the direct heat and continue to grill over indirect heat for an additional 7 to 10 minutes.
8 While the chicken and lamb continue to cook, grill the sausages over direct heat for 6 to 7 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
9 Remove all meats from the grill and allow them to rest while grilling the shrimp.
10 Reduce the heat to medium and grill the shrimp 4 to 5 minutes on one side, then flip them over for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or just until the shrimp are cooked through. Place the shrimp on the platter with the other meats and serve.
Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables
Serves 8 to 10. Recipe by Tracey Koch
1 (12-oz.) box quinoa
1 pint baby Bella mushrooms
1 medium eggplant
2-3 yellow squash
1 small red onion
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and brush two large baking sheets with the two tablespoons of olive oil.
2. Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions and set aside.
3. Clean and stem the mushrooms, cut them in half and place them into a large mixing bowl.
4. Peel the eggplant and slice into half-inch slices. Cut the slices into fourths and add them into the mixing bowl with the mushrooms.
5. Slice up the zucchini, squash, peppers and onions and place them into the mixing bowl as well.
6. Toss the mixed vegetables with the salt, pepper and remaining olive oil and divide them between the two baking sheets. Make sure to spread out the vegetables in a single layer so they will roast evenly.
7. Roast the vegetables for 10 minutes and gently stir. Continue to roast for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables are beginning to turn golden and are tender but still hold their shape.
8. Remove the vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Place the cooked quinoa in a large serving bowl and gently toss in the roasted vegetables. This dish may be served warm or at room temperature.
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