Sunday, August 7, 2011

Easy and Stylish Summer Grilling

When the days are so hot, something simple but delicious is always a welcome option for dinner. And, it's an excuse to fire up the grill and stand outside with utensils and a cold drink, taking in a warm evening. Here, we use a fresh halibut steak with a summer salad and pesto noodles on the side with a light Spanish white. Pesto is easy to make and if you keep it in the fridge during the summer, it's a great go-to when you're putting meals together.

(for pesto and noodles - can be made ahead and stored in fridge)
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (a dash to taste)
- Spaghetti (or pasta of choice)

(for salad)
- A good lettuce (red or green leaf, boston, romaine, arugula ... just no iceberg!) or fresh spinach
- Handful of fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
- Toasted and crushed almonds (or could be pumpkin seeds, walnuts, etc.)
- Carrots (chopped or julianned)
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Freshly chopped flat-leaf parlsey or cilantro (to taste)
- A fruit-based vinaigrette, such as blueberry, raspberry, pomegranate, etc.

(for fish)
- Halibut steak, coat lightly with olive oil (should be near room temperature when prepared)
- Dry rub: 1 tsp kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper (a few dashes), 1 tsp crushed red pepper and chopped flat-leaf parsley (increase proportions as needed, this is about what you need per steak)

As per usual, put on some summer music and get a drink -- to work!

First, in a food processor combine pine nuts and basil. Pulse a few times and add garlic, pulsing some more to start breaking things up. Gradually add olive oil while food processor runs, blending ingredients. Add cheese, a dash of salt and pepper to taste, and continue to process until pesto is well-mixed. Scrape down the sides of the processor as needed. Reserve pesto for the moment.

Second, put on some water to boil pasta. While that is working, coat fish and cover with dry rub. Let sit for the moment.

Third, prep salad, adding greens to a large bowl (or single plates, if you like) and topping with remaining ingredients. Do not add dressing until you are almost ready to eat, else it will get soggy.

Open wine to breathe.

When the water is boiling, add pasta (a smaller amount if you're just cooking for the evening, more if you're planning for leftovers). When it's done, drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is no longer hot. Mix well with pesto in a separate bowl (roughly 1 tbsp per cup pasta). Reserve and chill.

Fire up your grill to med heat. When ready, cook fish skin side down with the hood down (if you want to go hood up, make sure you'e at least on med-hi heat). Periodically check fish every 1-2 minutes, checking for doneness. When flesh is white throughout (about 4-5 minutes for a med-sized steak), it is done.

Now you're ready to plate (all on one or separate dishes for each item ... up to you). Dress salad, pour the wine and you are ready!

Tonight's music: Zappa Plays Zappa.

Tech tip: Need to share audio on the web but can't find a good way to do so? Check out SoundCloud: With the relative absence of a simple, easy-to-use audio sharing tool on sites like Facebook and Blogger, SoundCloud is graceful solution for sharing your creations -- spoken, musical, etc. - with others. For example:

Open Eyes by Dan Luhring