Tag Archives: low-carb

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops Greek-Style

Shoulder chops aren’t the most tender, but they truly have great lamb flavor. Plus, they are far less expensive than other types of lamb chops. The steaks are usually rather thin, therefore make sure you have a hot fire ready so they get a good sear on the outside before they have a chance to overcook on the inside.

Lamb and grilling are a classic combination in Greek cookery. In just minutes over a hot fire, they are nearly ready to serve with that quintessential Greek flavoring combination of fresh oregano, fresh lemon juice, really good olive oil, and just a touch of garlic. Simple is, as simple gets.

To complete the meal we roasted some baby Yukon potatoes which benefited from some of that oregano-garlic sauce; and a side of Roasted Green Beans with Pecorino and Pine Nuts which are mixed with oil, salt, pepper, and a tad of sugar to enhance caramelization.

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops Greek-Style

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Four 10- to 12-ounce lamb shoulder blade chops, 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to hot.
  2. Dry the chops with paper towels and sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Place the chops on the grill and cook until well seared, 3 to 4 minutes per side. To check for doneness, use an instant-read thermometer. The chops are rare at 120°F, medium rare at 125°F, medium at 130°F, and well done at 145°F and higher. FYI, lamb can take on a gamey flavor when cooked past medium.
  3. When the chops are done, remove them from the grill, cover them loosely with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, oregano, and garlic and mix well.
  5. Spoon the garlic mixture over the lamb chops, squeeze the lemon on top of them, and serve hot.

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Recipe by John Willoughby and Christopher Schlesinger

Fall-Apart Caramelized Cabbage

According to Bon Appétit, this is one of the easiest, most delicious ways to cook down a whole head of cabbage until it’s falling-apart tender. And those gorgeous Autumn colors welcome you to a new cooler season.

Numerous reviewers mentioned they had, or wished they had, doubled the sauce, therefore I went ahead with that suggestion. I also added some smoked paprika, just enough to give it a slightly smoky kick. Finally, homemade chicken stock was subbed for the water. Of course, if you are vegetarian you could keep the water or use vegetable stock.

If the spiced tomato paste has reduced and the pan starts getting dry and dark before the cabbage is ready, just add a splash of water to loosen and let it keep going.

The Hubs couldn’t get enough, he even wanted to drink any leftover sauce—good thing I doubled it! He said the aroma and taste reminded him of Gołąbki without the filling. Smacznego!

Fall-Apart Caramelized Cabbage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium head of savoy cabbage (about 2 lb. total)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (or water to keep it vegetarian)
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped dill, parsley, or cilantro
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream (for serving)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix tomato paste, garlic, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
  2. Cut cabbage in half through core. Cut each half through core into 4 wedges, so that the core remains on each piece.
  3. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Working in batches if needed, add cabbage to pan cut side down and season with salt. Cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cabbage to a plate. You may have to add a bit more oil to the pan if doing a second batch.
  4. Pour remaining ¼ cup oil into skillet. Add spiced tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to split and slightly darken, 3–4 minutes. Pour in enough chicken stock (or water) to come halfway up sides of pan (about 2 cups), season with salt, and bring to a simmer.
  5. Nestle cabbage wedges back into skillet (they should have shrunk while browning; a bit of overlap is okay). Transfer cabbage to oven and bake, uncovered and turning wedges halfway through, until very tender, liquid is mostly evaporated, and cabbage is caramelized around the edges, 40–50 minutes.
  6. Scatter dill over cabbage. Serve with yogurt alongside.

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Adapted from a recipe by Andy Baraghani for Bon Appétit

Salmon with Sautéed Tomatoes

Heart-healthy salmon is paired with jammy tomatoes which get an herby boost from pesto sauce. With very few ingredients and in less than a half hour, you have the makings of a company-worthy dinner.

To really enhance this Mediterranean meal, we also paired the salmon with Zucchini and Feta Fritters with a side of Yogurt Cucumber-Dill Sauce (which could be made a day ahead to save time on dinner night.)

Cutting the fish into the recommended 4 slices will end up with 6-ounce filets. We decided to divide the salmon into 3 filets weighing in at 8-ounces each. If they have thin “tails” at one end. flip them up and secure with a toothpick while you cook skin side down. Remove the toothpicks before flipping them over. This will help alleviate overdone ends.

Salmon with Sautéed Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. basil pesto
  • 1 1/2 lbs. salmon fillet, cut into 4 servings
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add grape tomatoes, season with 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in pesto and sauté two minutes more. Transfer tomato mixture to a plate and keep warm in a 200°F oven.
  2. Wipe out skillet (although I didn’t find this necessary). Season salmon pieces with 1/2 teaspoon each Kosher salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Place salmon pieces in skillet, skin side down. Sauté about 4-6 minutes. If you’re pieces are thick you may have to cook them a few minutes longer.
  3. Turn salmon and sauté and additional 4 minutes until salmon is cooked but tender. Serve over tomatoes and with lemon wedges.

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Mediterranean Lamb and Veggie Skewers

Lamb and Veggie Kebabs with an adventurous marinade consisting of onions, garlic, and trio of warm spices give the skewers a bold Middle Eastern flavor that is bound to grab your attention.

When marinating lamb, no need to be shy with flavors that will compliment its rich and assertive flavor. But it is equally important to use a marinade that will also help tenderize the meat while imparting character. This is especially true if you are using lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb as opposed to lamb loin fillet, which is more tender.

To make the marinade, combine onion, garlic, spices, fresh parsley, olive oil and lemon juice and zest in a food processor. Blitz until everything is well-incorporated and you have a thick onion mixture.

Because the veggies and meat require varying cooking times, I divide them into 3 categories—and 3 ziploc bags. First the meat cubes, then the tomatoes and mushroom caps, and finally the red onion and bell pepper pieces which take the longest to cook. Refrigerate all three bags for up to 2 hours. As the grill heats, thread metal skewers with the bag contents.

We served our skewers over a bed of tri-colored couscous, but if your counting carbs, gluten-free, or following a keto-friendly diet, you may want to skip it. Add lemon wedges for serving.

recipe title=”Mediterranean Lamb and Veggie Skewers” servings=”4-6″ time=”40 min + marinating time” difficulty=”easy”]

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. boneless leg of lamb
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. cherry (cocktail) tomatoes
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed
  • 1 yellow, 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 8 chucks each
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges, root intact
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

For the Marinade

  • 2 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 2⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Cut the lamb into 1 to 1 ½ -inch cubes or pieces and put them in a large ziploc. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, combine the onion, garlic, spices, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice and zest. Cover and run the processor until everything is finely chopped (you should end up with a thick onion marinade).
  3. Divide the mixture into three equal portions and pour the first over the lamb and mix well to make sure all the lamb is well coated with the marinade. Repeat with the other two bags of veggies.
  4. Cover and refrigerate all 3 bags for up to 2 hours. (If you do not have time, leave the kebabs to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes).
  5. Brush the grates of a gas grill (or an indoor griddle) with oil and heat.
  6. Shake excess marinade off and thread the lamb pieces on some long metal skewers, allowing a little room between pieces. (Flat metal skewers are best, but wooden skewers soaked in water will also work).
  7. Repeat with the tomatoes and mushroom caps, and then the bell pepper and onion pieces.
  8. Assemble the bell pepper/onion skewers on the hot grill first. After 10 minutes, add the tomato skewers. Turn all skewers every few minutes as they begin to char.
  9. After five minutes more, add the lamb kebabs. Grill over high heat, turning each kabob one-quarter turn every couple minutes, until the meat is browned all over, anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how well you like your lamb cooked (5 minutes on our grill produced medium-rare kebabs).
  10. Remove all skewers at the same time. Slide all contents onto a large platter and pass around to each dinner guest. Plate with couscous, if using, and lemon wedges.

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[/recipe]

Loosely adapted from a recipe by The Mediterranean Dish

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel, Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Olives

Another one-pan wonder, and who doesn’t like that for ease of clean-up and prep? It works as well for company as it does for a weeknight dinner. According to ATK’s “Complete Mediterranean Cookbook”, cooking the tenderloins until buttery-smooth is key, and roasting them atop a bed of vegetables buffers the heat to ensure juicy meat all the way through, which is rubbed with herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper.

The Mediterranean seasoning inspired the selection of vegetables: sweet, delicately flavored fennel, earthy artichoke hearts (frozen, to keep things easy), and briny olives (which I doubled the quantity). After softening the fennel in the microwave, it was tossed with the other vegetables and olive oil, and the mixture was spread into the roasting pan (or rimmed baking sheet), placing the tenderloins on top.

The vegetables are nearly cooked when the pork is done, so remove the meat to a moated cutting board and tent with foil. To the cooked veggies, add in juicy halved cherry tomatoes and lemon zest, and let them finish in the oven. After 10 minutes, the fennel should be tender, the tomatoes softened and releasing their juices.

NOTE: If using frozen artichoke hearts, be sure to thoroughly thaw and pat them dry; otherwise their moisture will inhibit the browning of the roasted vegetables.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel, Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Olives

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • (12- to 16-oz.) pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • 2 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, stalks discarded, bulbs halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch-thick strips
  • 12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 18 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with herbes de Provence, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Combine fennel and 2 tablespoons water in bowl, cover, and microwave until softened, about 5 minutes; drain well. Toss drained fennel, artichokes, olives, and oil together in bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread vegetables into 16 by 12-inch roasting pan and lay pork on top, tucking under the thin part of the tail. Roast until pork registers 140 to 145 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, turning tenderloins over halfway through roasting.
  4. Remove pan from oven. Transfer pork to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir cherry tomatoes and lemon zest into vegetables and continue to roast until fennel is tender and tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from oven. Stir parsley into roasted vegetables. Slice pork into ½-inch-thick slices, and arrange vegetables and sliced pork on a platter, pouring any accumulated meat juices back over the plated pork and vegetables.

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Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Andalusian-Style Tomato Salad with Olive Oil Tuna

With tomatoes at the height of their season, this fabulous salad hits all the right notes. No cooking, easy to prep, and tasty as all get out—providing you use great tomatoes. All we needed was one because the heirloom that we picked up at the local farmer’s market weighed in at a whopping 1 1⁄2 pounds and was bright red all the way through!

According to the Milk Street article where this recipe came from, pipirrana is a summery, tomato-centric salad from Andalusia in southern Spain. Consider it gazpacho in chopped-salad form. Their version of pipirran con atún, includes tuna, and hard-cooked eggs, making the dish hearty enough to be a satisfying main course. The vegetables are left in largish chunks instead of a fine dice, as is common. The onion is thinly sliced and steeped in sherry vinegar for a few minutes to tame its bite.

One thing you want to stay away from here is canned tuna packed in water. The flavor of tuna in olive oil is richer and its texture more velvety. And by all means, when you drain the tuna, do it over a bowl and use it when making the vinaigrette, adding olive oil as needed to make up the difference. Don’t know why most recipes fail to mention this step.

We drained the pickled onions directly over the bowl holding the tuna olive oil. This is used to make the vinaigrette that dresses the salad. We were blown over by how good this simple salad was—made even better with a chilled glass of crisp Spanish white wine.

Andalusian-Style Tomato Salad with Olive Oil Tuna

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup drained capers
  • 2 5-oz. cans olive oil–packed tuna, drained and flaked into small pieces (don’t discard the olive oil from the tuna can, save it to make the vinaigrette)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumber and ½ teaspoon salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the onion, vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Let both stand for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place a large strainer over the bowl containing the oil from the canned tuna. Pour the onion slices and their juices into the strainer, pressing down to remove most of the vinegar. Add the drained onions to the tomato-cucumber mixture.
  3. Add the bell pepper, capers and tuna to the vegetables, lightly stir.
  4. To the vinegar oil mixture, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the egg wedges.

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Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Cobb Salad for Four

Here’s an elegant low-carb salad that’s bulky enough to feed four as a main entrée. It was the perfect antidote for lunch on a recent Sunday afternoon when a couple of friends dropped by and our original plans for outside dining fell through due to inclement weather.

Much of the prep can be prepared ahead of time, such as the hard boiled eggs, bacon, and shredded chicken. A rotisserie chicken is so easy, and generally cheaper than buying a whole uncooked chicken—basically a no-brainer. But if you happen to have some breast meat already cooked, go ahead and shred that.

We always keep a homemade sherry-based mustard vinaigrette on hand, thus we used it with the added touch of flavor provided by the bacon fat. Sherry vinegar is now appearing not just in specialty stores but also in many ordinary supermarkets. With its nutty, oaky, savory flavors it is good in applications across the board. While we always buy “Columela” sourced from Spain, Napa Valley Naturals costs just $0.43 per ounce and is sold widely in supermarkets, so it’s a good one to try.

Cobb Salad for Four

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 heads of Bibb lettuce, rinsed and torn
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, breast meat removed and shredded (save the remaining chicken for another use)
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved and cut into 1⁄4″ slices
  • 8 oz. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, cut into 8 wedges each
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 8 strips of bacon, crisped and cut into 1⁄2″ pieces (2 Tbsp. fat reserved for dressing)
  • 1⁄2 cup vinaigrette with 2 Tbsp. bacon fat

Directions

  1. Prepare hard boiled eggs ahead of time. When ready to assemble salad, cut them into wedges.
  2. Make/buy a sherry vinaigrette (don’t use a balsamic version), and measure 1/2 cup; add 2 tablespoons bacon fat to vinaigrette a whisk together.
  3. Line the bottom of a large serving (or pasta) bowl with the torn Bibb lettuce. Toss the lettuce with half of the vinaigrette.
  4. Arrange each of the other items, except bacon, in rows across the Bibb with the chicken in the middle. Sprinkle the bacon across the center on top of the chicken.
  5. Serve salad family-style and pass around the remaining vinaigrette.

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Greek-Inspired Beans and Tomatoes

By mid-August we harvest green beans on a daily basis. Even with gifting friends our excess supply, the beans will be a staple for dinner many nights a week. We’ve roasted, grilled, steamed and boiled them either alone or in combination with other veggies.

I asked The Hubs to whip something together that would use both an abundance of the beans and our plum and grape tomatoes, and that would compliment our dry rubbed loin lamb chops and Herby Potato Salad. Greek-style instantly came to his mind, which typically uses flat Romano beans. However using our freshly picked pole beans, the dish was still hearty, healthy and bursting with fresh and vibrant colors and flavors.

In lieu of blanching the beans first, you could add them raw at the halfway point of cooking the tomatoes. Just keep a sharp eyeball on the beans so that they are crisp-tender and not overcooked, limp and no longer bright green.

Greek-Inspired Beans and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed, blanched
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin oilive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. plum/grape/cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Blanche* the green beans in salted boiling water for 2 to 3 minuted depending on how thick they are. Drain and immediately drop in an ice bath until cool. Drain in a colander.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat oil until shimmering over medium heat. Add garlic slices and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the onion to the garlic with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until the onions are softened, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, turn the heat back up to medium, stir in a 1⁄2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of the oregano. Stir well, partially cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until tomatoes break down and release their juices.
    *If you choose not to blanche the beans, you can add raw beans 5 minutes into cooking the tomatoes, and cook just until beans are crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes more.
  5. Stir in the blanched beans and remaining oregano and cook for 1-2 minutes more while beans heat through. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Serve immediately.

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Grilled Pork Chop for Two

It’s likely you’ll have the ingredients for the wet spice rub already in your pantry. Among them would be paprika, which lends a fiery red-orange color, not to mention a sweet and slightly fruity taste with very mild heat.

While this approach uses one thick pork chop, you could use two thinner chops (I wouldn’t go less than one-inch thick); just be sure to keep a close eyeball on the temperature because they will get done much sooner.

Well, as luck would have it, tornadoes were in the area with two actually touching down only miles from our house. Just as The Hubs took the chop off the grill pan to let it rest, we were instructed to take cover immediately, so we spent about 15 minutes down the basement before getting the all clear—but at least the meat got to rest!

We served our pork with a side of Avocado Cucumber Salad and a few Truffled Pasta Purses.

As you can decipher from the stormy weather, we were not able to use our outside grill, so we took the next best option and that would be “Grilliam” our cast-iron grill pan. It works basically on the same principal as a gas grill, with grate marks and all!

Grilled Pork Chop for Two

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp.  garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. each oregano, salt, and pepper
  • 1 1-3⁄4″ to 2″ (about 1.5 lbs.) boneless pork chops

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper until a thick paste forms.
  2. Coat both sides of the pork chop in the paste and set it aside on a plate, or in a ziploc bag, to marinate while you warm up the grill—or for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
  4. Grill your pork chop for 10-12 minutes per side with lid down, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees (test with an instant-read thermometer). After removing from the grill, let rest on a moated cutting board for 5 minutes tented with foil.
  5. Slice against the grain in 1⁄2-inch slices, arrange on a platter and pour over any accumulated juices.

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Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs

These babies are lickety-split fast, extremely simple, and so freakin’ yummy! In fact, keep this marinade in mind for poultry as well. You may decide to try other herbs in place of the basil, like oregano, tarragon or chives; or also give them a sprinkle of fresh herbs at the end.

It was the perfect appetizer to bring for a small dinner party at our friends, Mr. and Mrs, Z. The evening could not have been lovelier as we were sitting outside sipping some wine and marveling at the well-manicured gardens. We transported the soaked wooden skewers, marinating shrimp and a sprig of basil leaves along with the perfect sized platter. All that needed to be done when the four of us were ready for a nosh, was to preheat the grill and thread the 20 shrimp onto the skewers—evenly distributed at 5 apiece.

Within minutes on the grill, the shrimp were done and the feast could begin… Speaking of feast, I have to give a shout out to our hosts for the fantastic meal! Mrs. Z. made a leg of lamb that was to die for, accompanied by a tasty potato salad, an incredible watermelon and arugula salad, asparagus, green bean and tomato salad, and a wonderful summery dessert of nectarines over blueberry compote topped with vanilla ice cream all artfully presented in parfait glasses. A dinner to remember for sure…

But I digress, back to the original post which is the featured shrimp kebabs…

Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • ½ tsp. grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp, tails left on

Directions

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2.  Soak four 12-inch wooden skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the orange juice, lemon or lime juice, orange zest, garlic, olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper until well blended. 
  4. Add the shrimp and mixture to a large ziploc bag, seal and mush around to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the broiler or grill. Skewer the shrimp, dividing them evenly between the skewers. Discard any remaining marinade. Broil or grill for about 4-6 minutes total, turning once as they brown, until they are just cooked throughout.

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Adapted from a recipe by Katie Workman

Avocado Cucumber Salad

A super-easy and healthy side dish to go with your grilled entrée. According to The Endless Meal where I found this recipe “Everything works about this salad: the crunchy but slightly softened cucumbers, the creamy avocados, the earthy cilantro, and the hint of spice that tingles your tongue.”

Making this cucumber and avocado salad requires maceration. The basis of which is tossing the cucumbers in a little salt and sugar then letting them sit at room temperature while some of the juice is drawn out. The process softens the cucumber just a little and makes a sort of dressing for the salad.

NOTE: You can prepare it ahead of time by combining the cucumbers and spices in the bag but NOT sprinkling the salt and sugar over. Place the bag in the fridge for up to 8 hours. When you are ready, take the bag out of the fridge, add the salt and sugar, let it sit for a half hour then continue with the rest of the preparation.

Yes, it is a “green salad” but quite different from what most of us picture because there is no lettuce at all! The recipe calls for a red Thai chili, but in lieu of that we used a green serrano making it even “greener”. The flavors and textures paired wonderfully with our grilled pork chop, but the salad does not store well after the initial meal, so eat it up! (That is why we cut the recipe in half for the two of us—with just a tad remaining.)

Avocado Cucumber Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup minced ginger
  • 2 English cucumbers, quartered and sliced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 Thai red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral-flavored oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1/4 cup each: basil leaves and cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the ginger, cucumbers, sea salt, sugar, garlic, and red chili in a large, resealable plastic bag. Squish the bag around a little so that everything is mixed together. Set the bag aside on your counter for a half hour.
  2. Pour everything from the bag into a salad bowl. Add the celery, oil, and lime juice and toss well. Season to taste with sea salt. Add the diced avocados, basil, and cilantro and gently toss once more.
  3. Serve within a half hour.

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Adapted from a recipe found on theendlessmeal.com

Grilled Shoulder Lamb Chops with Garlic-Rosemary Marinade

Growing up, I distinctly remember my mom making grilled shoulder lamb chops, and even though I was a very picky eater, I loved those chops. Fast forward many decades and I am a fan of just about any type of lamb, yet the shoulder chops don’t seem to be as common anymore (at least where we live). So when I spotted them at Costco recently, I knew they had to find their way into the grocery basket.

They tend to be less pricey than many other lamb options—a plus in most people’s thinking. And this recipe can’t be any simpler. With a few common ingredients , and precious little cooking time, you’ll be wanting to add these babies to your regular rotation. Even though you can marinate them in a s little as 30 minutes, I highly suggest you do so for at least 8 hours, and up to overnight.

Our three steaks were a bit thinner than the suggested 3/4″ so they took only a total of 4 1/2 minutes to reach medium-rare, just how we like them, and in no time at all! Use an instant-read thermometer after 4 minutes to get an idea of the internal temp. We barely had time to cook the accompanying fresh green beans and corn on the cob while the lamb rested.

Grilled Shoulder Lamb Chops with Garlic-Rosemary Marinade

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

MARINADE

  • 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic paste, or 2 large cloves minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

LAMB

  • 4 shoulder lamb chops, about 3/4 inch thick (blade or round bone)
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper

Directions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients in small bowl. Rub both sides of each chop with the paste; add to an air-tight ziploc bag for at least 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated overnight.)
  2. Turn all burners on gas grill to high, close lid, and heat until grill is very hot, about 15 minutes. Leave one burner on high and turn other burner(s) down to medium.
  3. Rub grill grates with oil. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Grill chops, covered, over hotter part of grill, turning them once, until well browned, about 4 minutes. Move chops to cooler part of grill and continue grilling, turning once, to desired doneness, about 6 minutes for rare (about 120 degrees on instant-read thermometer), about 8 minutes for medium (about 130 degrees), or about 10 minutes for well-done (140 to 150 degrees).
  5. Remove chops from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Grilled Pesto Chicken Breasts

This pesto chicken recipe takes a three-pronged approach, compliments of Cook’s Country. Starting with a batch of homemade pesto, a portion is thickened with extra Parmesan cheese to make a stuffing for the bone-in, skin-on breasts. A cheese-less portion of the pesto functions as a marinade, flavoring the outside of the meat. Finally, cheesy pesto, thinned out to sauce consistency, is served with the chicken for one final hit of fresh basil flavor.

I am a white meat fan when it comes to chicken, while The Hubs prefers the dark meat which he believes to be juicier. While I can’t always argue with that logic, I do know that with the skin and bones of the breast pieces intact, the more succulent the meat will be.

Our poultry breasts weighed in at 15 ounces or so, a bit more than the 12-ounce pieces listed in the ingredients. In fact, one of them was larger than the other three and actually took an additional 7 minutes to come to temperature, so keep a close eyeball on the internal temps with an instant-read thermometer, especially if they are varying sizes.

Brimming with fresh basil, this recipe was a perfect opportunity to cut it back mid-season from our herb garden, encouraging robustness for the remainder of the season. And while the directions indicate to marinate the breasts in the pesto sauce in a bowl for one hour, I let them get happy in a large glass baking dish for three hours in the refrigerator wrapped tightly with saran wrap.

Results? The Hubs LOVED them! That’s big praise coming from a guy who steadfastly prefers the dark meat of the thighs and legs. He couldn’t believe how moist the white meat remained and how flavorful the overall pesto approach was. “Let’s make this for company” he sang, and I thought yes, let’s!

Note: that the pesto base is divided into three separate mixtures for marinating, stuffing, and saucing the grilled chicken.

Grilled Pesto Chicken Breasts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice, about 1/2 large lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 4 (12-oz.) split bone-in chicken breasts, trimmed

Directions

  1. Process basil, ½ cup oil, garlic, lemon juice, and ¾ teaspoon salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Remove ¼ cup pesto from processor and reserve for marinating chicken.
  2. Add Parmesan to pesto in processor and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Remove ¼ cup Parmesan pesto from processor and reserve for stuffing chicken.
  3. Add remaining ¼ cup oil to Parmesan pesto in processor and pulse until combined, about 3 pulses; set aside for saucing cooked chicken.
  4. Starting on thick side of breast, closest to breastbone, cut horizontal pocket in each breast, stopping ½ inch from edge so halves remain attached. Season chicken, inside and out, with salt and pepper.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of Parmesan pesto reserved for stuffing in pocket of each breast. Evenly space 2 pieces of kitchen twine (each 12 inches long) beneath each breast and tie to secure breast, trimming any excess twine.
  6. Place stuffed breasts in bowl and add pesto reserved for marinating. Rub pesto all over chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
    FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-low. (Adjust burners as needed to maintain grill temperature of 350 degrees.)
  8. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side up, on grill (over cool side if using charcoal). Cover and cook until chicken registers 155 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.
  9. Flip chicken skin side down. If using charcoal, slide chicken to hot part of grill. If using gas, turn all burners to medium-high. (Our grill is very hot, so I only turned up the heat to medium.) Cover and cook until well browned and chicken registers 160 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer chicken to platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove twine from chicken and carve meat from bone. Serve, passing Parmesan pesto sauce separately.

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Adapted from a recipe for Cook’s Country

Leftover chicken salad enjoyed poolside.

BTW, if you are lucky enough to have some leftover breasts, make a chicken pesto salad. When cooled, remove the cooked meat from the skin and bones. Either shred it, or cut it up in small chunks (it will still contain the pesto stuffing).

In a mixing bowl, add the chunked chicken, small diced celery, thinly sliced scallions, mayonnaise and more of the pesto topping. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. We served ours the next day for lunch over Bibb lettuce and topped with sliced yellow and red bell peppers and more sliced scallions.

Marinated Beef Kebabs and Veggie Skewers

The beauty of this marinade recipe is that it is used for both the meat and vegetable skewers. We almost always thread the meat on separate skewers from the vegetables because the cooking times are so drastically different. The veggies will take about 20 minutes, while the beef is done in 5-8 minutes, depending on your preference.

And while you can get away with only marinating the meat for one hour (that’s the time limit for your veggies), the flavor penetrates the beef at a much more satisfying taste if you leave it in a ziploc overnight—or say, at least 8 hours.

If you’re not counting carbs, tri-colored couscous makes a fine dining companion for the skewers of meat and vegetables. Make it with beef bullion instead of water for an even beefier taste!

Marinated Beef Kebabs and Veggie Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. top sirloin beef, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper (or 1/2 of each), cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 onion, peeled with root intact, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1″-thick rounds
  • 12 large button mushrooms, stems removed

MARINADE

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Sriracha, a few dashes to taste

Directions

  1. Mix all marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl, then divide into two ziploc gallon-sized bags.
  2. Add the chunks of beef to one bag, seal and refrigerate overnight. Reserve the other bagged marinade for the veggies, store in refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. One hour before preheating grill, put cut vegetables into remaining marinade. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for one hour.
  4. Preheat grill to high on all burners.
  5. Thread beef chunks onto 3-4 skewers. Alternate the vegetables on 4 skewers. Place all skewers on a large rimmed baking sheet. Reserve leftover marinade for basting purposes.
  6. Grill the veggie skewers for 15 minutes, turning and basting occasionally with leftover marinade. Leave on grill until meat is done, continuing to baste with marinade.
  7. Now place beef kebabs on grill, turning and basting occasionally. With an instant-read thermometer, check after 4 minutes for doneness. Ours were perfectly medium-rare after only 4 1/2 minutes!
  8. Remove skewers from grill to baking sheet and cover loosely with foil for 5 minutes allowing the juices to redistribute.
  9. The meat can be removed from skewers onto a platter and passed around the table, while each diner gets one skewer of vegetables.

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Grilled Tuna Steaks with Lemon-Caper Mustard Sauce

There’s just something about grilled tuna steaks that screams summer to me. This super-easy, no-fuss, dinner is perfect for a couple—but if doubled or tripled, fancy enough for company. Because it’s ready in 30 minutes from start-to-finish, you have ample time leftover to chill with a glass of wine, and/or enjoy your guests.

Then, how about a grilled romaine salad as a side dish? Slice a head in half, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place the cut-side down over high heat for two minutes. Dress with grape tomatoes, radish and cucumber slices, sliced scallions and your favorite dressing. I think ranch or blue cheese adds a nice counterpoint to the salty tartness of the butter sauce. Serve immediately.

Completing the meal was some grilled asparagus, making the meal healthy, low-carb, with added fiber and protein—not to mention great taste!

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Lemon-Caper Mustard Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 8 oz. tuna steaks, 3/4 inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp. tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. lemon fresh juice, divided  
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest, grated  
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. capers, drained
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil for tuna
  • Salt and white pepper
  • Vegetable oil for grill grates
  • Fresh parsley for garnish, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat gas grill to high.
  2. Mix together butter, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard, capers and a pinch of white pepper. Set aside.
  3. Brush tuna steaks with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and white pepper. Drizzle remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice over fish.
  4. Brush vegetable oil on grates and place tuna steaks over the heat.
  5. Grill, turning once, until firm and opaque at center, about 10 to 12 minutes total for medium.
  6. Remove from heat and divide lemon-caper butter over top of each steak.
  7. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and leftover lemon wedges if you have them.

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