As summer marches on, we continue to enjoy time outdoors, and simpler, grilled meals are the order of the day.
We recently enjoyed a meal that was cooked 100 percent on the grill — even dessert — which meant minimal cleanup and no hot, steamy kitchen.
The sun-dried tomato vinaigrette sauce on the halibut delivered a lot of “bang for your buck” — it was simple, robust, flavorful and beautiful in color. And speaking of bucks, halibut is quite costly — it was definitely a splurge item.
Any substantial, steaky fish can be easily substituted, and you can foil grill a more delicate white fish if that is preferred. The foil-grilled green and wax beans brought a fresh, seasonal burst of color and flavor, and grilled bread is always a hit.
Sometimes the starch is a challenge to grill; potatoes take ages and other go-to carbs like pasta, rice and quinoa require a stove. So bread was a simple, crowd-pleasing option, and grilling it gave the meal some added interest.
Dessert was a throwback to my son’s sleep-away camp of days gone by; they called them “banana boats” at Camp Dark Waters, but we called them simple and delicious. And if you want to gussy them up with marshmallows, graham crackers or vanilla ice cream, your guests will be all the happier.
Grilled Halibut with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
Halibut has a wonderful texture and holds up well on the grill. But if it is not to your taste or budget, you can substitute tuna or salmon, or even a milder, delicate white fish like flounder, cod or haddock. In that case, you will need to foil grill.
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes with oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Place all the ingredients in a blender or mini Cuisinart and give them a whirl. I went for a chunky, coarse consistency, so I was quick with my trigger finger, giving the mixture a brief whiz. But you can certainly opt for a puree if a smoother texture is preferred.
4 halibut steaks, about 1-inch thick
Juice of 1 lemon
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
Place the steaks in a shallow dish and spritz with lemon, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Lay the fish on a hot grill, sear for about a minute, and then move to an area of the grill that is less hot; cook for about three minutes.
Flip the fish and repeat the second step. The fish is done when it flakes easily and is opaque all the way through.
Remove the fish from the heat and cover it with the sun-dried tomato vinaigrette sauce. Serve immediately.
Foil-Grilled String Beans
When I told my husband we were having string beans with dinner, he registered an unenthusiastic OK. Then he tasted them and gave them a thumbs up. This simple technique gives mundane beans some added depth and flavor.
2-3 cups string beans, stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkle of freshly ground pepper
In a double thickness of heavy-duty foil, place the beans in a single layer and toss with the remaining ingredients. (You may need to make two packets.)
Seal the foil and grill on a medium-hot flame for about five minutes. Flip the packet, cook another five minutes, and remove it from the heat.
Allow the beans to rest for a few minutes, then serve. Use caution when opening the packets so the steam does not burn you.
I had a half loaf of semolina bread left from a pasta dinner the previous night. This was the ideal way to repurpose it. We smeared it with surplus sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, but it was lovely on its own, too.
Thick slices of hearty bread — Italian, baguette, whole grain, ciabatta, etc.
Olive oil for brushing
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
Brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Place the slices on a hot grill and toast for about two minutes. Flip, allowing the second side to toast.
Remove from the heat and serve solo or with the spread of your choice.
Grilled Banana Boats
4 ripe bananas
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Place each banana on a piece of heavy-duty foil and slice a “valley” down the middle of the banana lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through.
Place chocolate chips in the valley and close the foil packet.
Grill on a medium flame for about six minutes until the chips are melted and the banana is slightly caramelized. Keep warm until ready to serve.