Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Grilled Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Panzanella

Grilled Shrimp and Summer Veggie Panzanella 

This summer has brought about a new family tradition.  On Friday evenings, we meet a few other neighborhood families at the pool, grill our dinner, and engage in general merriment with the kids.  It's something that I very much look forward to all week long.  Because I am who I am, I spend most of the week thinking about what we'll grill and eat, what cocktail I'll mix up, and what we'll eat for dessert.  Sometimes we go simple - burgers or hotdogs, chips, and watermelon.  Sometimes we go REALLY simple and order pizza.  And sometimes I get inspired and end up creating one of my favorite dinners of the summer.

Obviously I'm talking about this salad.  I planned to use my favorite recipe for grilled shrimp, and serve it alongside a simplified zucchini and corn salad, along with some grilled garlic bread.  In a moment of inspiration, I turned it into a grilled shrimp and bread salad.  I was so excited and enamored with the final dish that I made it again a few days later.

This was not only a big hit with Joey and me, but it was a huge hit with the kids as well .  They were especially obsessed with the grilled shrimp and bread, and couldn't get enough.

I have revamped and remixed my chopped summer veggie salad in several ways, spanning numerous cuisines and seasons, but this may be my favorite yet.  When I've made this, I just keep it to the veggies, shrimp, and bread, and leave out the grilled romaine.  I certainly think it would be a great addition though!  If you're looking for a side for this salad, I'd recommend that you keep it simple - a plate of sliced tomato with salt and pepper is perfection here!

Here's to summer grilling and dinner at the pool!


Grilled Shrimp and Summer Veggie Panzanella

Herb-Grilled Shrimp
adapted from Ina Garten
  • 1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined, but tails left on
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
Combine all the ingredients and toss to coat the shrimp.  Allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Summer Vegetable and Grilled Bread Salad
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for dressing
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 ears corn, husk and silks removed
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks
  • 6-8 slices baguette or other crusty bread (I used a roasted garlic loaf and it was really really good!)
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 oz)
Prepare the grill to cook at medium-high heat.  Allow to preheat at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes.

Brush the zucchini, bread slices, and corn with the oil mixture. Reserve the remaining oil mixture to use for the dressing.

Clean the cooking grate, then place the zucchini, corn, and bread slices on the grill.  

For the corn, grill, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, until the kernels are lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes total.

For the zucchini, grill it until it is well-browned and tender (but not mushy), about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

For the bread, grill it 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until it is lightly charred.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing.  Add enough oil to the remaining oil-garlic-pepper mixture to reach a volume of 1/4 cup, then whisk in the lemon juice.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Prepare grill. 

 Thread the shrimp on skewers.

Grill the shrimp for about 2 minutes, then flip skewers and grill until cooked through, an additional 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the grill and cover lightly with foil as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Once everything is off the grill, begin building the salad.    Cut the kernels off the corn and add them to a large bowl.  Cut the zucchini crosswise into 1/2 inch-thick slices, and add those as well.  Slice or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces.  Crumble the feta into the bowl, and top with the chopped basil.  Drizzle the dressing over the top, then toss well to combine.  

Divide among plates, then lightly sprinkle each serving with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Top each serving with several shrimp, and serve.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Grilled BLT Tostadas

Grilled BLT Tostadas

My favorite summer meal is a simple one:  a BLT sandwich, watermelon, and chips.  Because I love the BLT combo so much, I like to try out different variations and vehicles for the B, the L, and the T.  Thus, when a mexican-inspired BLT was brought to my attention, I'm pretty sure I gasped aloud and headed straight into my kitchen to whip it up.

This ingenious dish comes from none other than the Mexican food genius himself, Rick Bayless.  So it comes as no surprise that it is absolutely amazing and out of this world good.  These are also super quick and easy, which is another requirement for an ideal summer meal.  


Corn tortillas are brushed with bacon fat (yes!), then quickly grilled to crisp them up.  You slather them with an avocado-lime cream sauce, then top with tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and cilantro.  Finish with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and you have Mexican BLT perfection.  I served these with grilled Mexican street corn, watermelon slices, and of course watermelon margaritas.  No Mexican summer meal is complete without those!  This was one of my favorite dinners of the summer, and one I'll for sure be making many times before fall!

The avocado cream sauce makes more than you'll likely need, but you can store it for a few nights in the refrigerator (just know it may discolor a bit).  The leftovers are great for making… more BLT tostadas, proper BLTs, or just using as a dip for veggies or tortilla chips.


Grilled BLT Tostadas
adapted from More Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless
serves 4 to 6
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup Mexican crema* 
  • juice of 1/2 lime, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 an avocado, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • 6-8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut cross-wise into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb heirloom tomatoes
Prepare the grill to medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, lay the tortillas in a single layer and let them dry for about 30 minutes.  This will help them crisp up on the grill, rather than fall apart.

As the tortillas dry, combine the cream, lime juice, jalapeño, cilantro, avocado, and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor or blender.  Puree until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust the lime juice and salt to your preference.  Scrape the cream sauce into a bowl, cover, and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet, stirring often, until it is crispy and browned.  Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Pour the fat into a small heatproof bowl and set aside.

Core the tomatoes.  Choose one tomato (probably the largest) to slice, and slice into 1/2-inch slices.  Seed and chop the rest of the tomatoes.  

Brush the tortillas on both sides with the reserved bacon fat.  Transfer them to the grill and cook, turning and rotating every 30 seconds or so, until the tortillas are golden brown and crisp.  This will probably take 5 to 10 minutes.  

Remove the tortillas to a serving platter, and spread each one with  avocado sauce.  Top with the sliced tomato, and sprinkle with bacon, cilantro, and diced tomatoes.  Lightly sprinkle each tostada with salt, and a squeeze of lime juice.  Serve immediately.

*a half-and-half mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise can also be used here, but try and find crema if you can!  My local Kroger and Publix both carry it, for what that's worth!