Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Grilled Salad - Get me outta' the kitchen!

Why am I sweltering away in my hot kitchen when the cool evening breezes are starting to waft about my shady back deck?

Yeah - I don't have an answer either.  So it is time to head out to the grill for dinner.

The Oxbow Box provided me with my new favorite lettuce, Little Gem.  It makes me think of a mini Romaine - it has that sweet crunch, but in a more manageable size.  One thing that is fun (and tasty) with Romaine is grilling it until the cut side has black char marks.  The contrast of the sweet and charred is delicious.  I thought, since I was heading out of the kitchen, this would be the way to go!

To go along with this - I did the butterflied/spatchcocked chicken.  By flattening the chicken it cooks quickly.  And rubbing a mixture of salt, pepper, chopped garlic, lemon juice and zest + a little oil under the skin and over the meat makes the chicken scrumptious, both hot, and cold as 2nd meal food the next day.

The first few time you flatten the chicken... it may take a little while, but after a few tries, the prep & the cooking will take less time than running out to get a rotisserie chicken.  (Check out this great, old school, instructional video - by one of the masters, Jaques Pepin.  You'll learn several great things.)

Back on Track:
So get out those Little Gem's, and slice them in half.

You can get them all washed off and any grit out this way.
Give them a firm shake to get the water out.

Rub them a little oil on all the surfaces (put about a 1/2 tsp in you hand, rub your hands together and then rub your hands over the lettuce halves.  You'll get everything covered, and use less oil this way).

Pull out the Patty Pan squash (or zucchini, or other summer squash),
slice into pieces about half the width of your pinky (1/8 inch or so), toss with a little salt and oil, and these are ready to go.

A hot grill is your best friend here.
Grill those veggies until they have distinct black marks - this will bring out their sweetness, and give them a delicious texture.

All you need now is delicious, cooling dressing to pull it all together.

Yogurt Dressing for Grilled Salad 

thick yogurt (greek or drained regular) 1/2 C
dill or basil
garlic - 2 cloves
lemon juice or white wine vinegar 1-2 Tbs or to taste
salt & pepper to taste

small bowl
cutting board

Prep & Cook!
Chop the herbs and garlic.  Stir them into the yogurt.  Start with 1 Tbs of the lemon juice/vinegar and a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Adjust the acid, salt and pepper to your taste.

All together now!

So quick note...

What if you have a grill with huge spaces between the grates?
Like I do.

Lodge Cast Iron to the rescue!  (No, they have no idea I'm mentioning this - it is just that good).  These pans are pretty indestructible.  You cannot damage them, no matter how hot your charcoal gets.  I mean, if you are trying to grill over lava (2100˚F), you have other things in mind, and I can't help you.

To cook smaller and more delicate things, I don't go in for some of these silly baskets, or breakable, rustable things.  I break out my big slab of cast iron.

 It preserves the grill experience, and I can use it on the stove as well.  (The other side is the pancake side.)
This side also works great for fish if you have something really delicate.
Oh, and if you just have a skillet

 bring it out the the grill instead.  No grill marks, but same great char - and OUT of the kitchen.

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