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Grease Up the Grill

June 7, 2007
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During the warm summer months, food isn't just for feeding. Great recipes are the center of social gatherings, and the spark for intimate conversations among family and friends. The grill has become a place to congregate; it's become the outside table, a place to make memories.

Now that summer's around the corner, it's time to transform your traditional menus and turn your next cookout into a truly memorable get-together. By combining fresh produce, flavorful spices and heart-healthy olive oil, you can put a new twist on original dishes to ensure your meals stand out and help create captivating conversations around wonderful food.

When planning a menu, consider dishes that marry bold flavors and yield inventive results. To save time, choose recipes that combine fresh and prepared ingredients. Appetizers should be versatile. Main-dish recipes need to include savory herbs and make an alteration on typical summer fare. And desserts should bring out the best flavors of the season and leave lasting impressions.

The North American Olive Oil Association offers these recipes to lighten -- and liven -- up your summer.

Garlic-Olive Oil Chicken Kabobs

[Meat]

3 boneless, skinless kosher chicken breasts, cut into 11/2 to 2-inch pieces
12 fingerling potatoes
1/4 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 4 pieces
1/4 large orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 4 pieces
4 slices (3/4-inches thick) yellow squash or zucchini
3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
1 tsp. grated ginger root, optional
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coarse ground pepper
2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil or other olive oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 baby Portobello (crimini) mushroom caps, optional
olive oil

Heat grill to medium direct heat.

In a 1-quart microwave-safe casserole dish, combine potatoes and 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute; drain well.

Combine the chicken, potatoes, pepper chunks, squash, garlic, ginger root, salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat evenly. Drizzle with olive oil and soy sauce; toss to coat. (If desired, refrigerate up to 4 hours, turning occasionally.)

Add mushrooms; toss gently to coat with oil mixture.

Threat ingredients on four 16-inch metal or wooden skewers. (If you are using wooden skewers, soak the skewers in water up to a-half hour before threading with the chicken and vegetables.)

Place the skewers on the grill.

Grill, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, turning once.

Brush with additional olive oil, if desired.

Serves 4.

Grilled Veggie-Stuffed Portobellos With Cheese on Herbed Flatbread

[Dairy]

This recipe makes a fabulous meatless sandwich that can be served like a hamburger, or served sliced in wedges as an appetizer.

2 large Portobello mushroom caps
3 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil or other olive oil
1/2 small fresh fennel bulb, halved lengthwise
1 slice (1/2-inch thick) yellow or red onion
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 small slice sourdough bread
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 tsp. garlic-pepper seasoning
1 slice Swiss or Muenster cheese, halved
2 pieces herbed flatbread (recipe below) or buns
2 slices tomato, optional

Heat grill to medium direct heat.

Cut stems from mushrooms, set aside. Scrape the dark "gills" from the inside of mushrooms using a spoon; discard. Lightly brush the outsides of the mushrooms, both sides of bread and the remaining vegetables with olive oil. Set mushrooms aside.

Place the remaining vegetables, except mushroom stems and garlic, on the grill. Grill for 5 minutes.

Brush lightly with olive oil and turn the vegetables over.

Add the mushrooms stems and the garlic to grill, place them on a small piece of foil to prevent them from falling through the grill grates. Grill those for 2 to 5 minutes longer, or until tender but not soft (except the garlic -- it should be very soft).

Add bread to the grill during the last 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly toasted, turning once.

Remove the vegetables and bread from the grill (do not turn grill off).

To make the filling, place the grilled bread in a food processor; process until fine. Remove bread crumbs from the processor, set aside.

Cut grilled vegetables into 1-inch pieces.

Peel garlic. Add the garlic, mushroom stems and remaining grilled vegetables to the processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add the breadcrumbs (about 1/3 cup), the oregano and the garlic-pepper seasoning; pulse to mix. Set aside.

Place mushrooms, rounded (top) side up on grill. Grill covered 3 to 5 minutes, or until the inside of the mushroom caps are beginning to soften.

Remove them from the grill; and brush them with olive oil.

Spoon filling into caps, packing lightly. Place mushrooms on grill. Grill, covered, 4 to 6 minutes, or until filling is thoroughly heated and mushroom caps are tender, topping with cheese during the last 2 to 3 minutes.

If desired, split the flatbread; brush cut sides lightly with olive oil and place cut-side down on grill during the last 1 to 2 minutes to lightly toast.

Serve mushrooms on the flatbread or on buns, with tomatoes and condiments, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

Herbed Flatbread

[Pareve]

This tasty flatbread can be eaten as is, dipped in flavorful olive oil, or it can be cut into six pieces and split to use as a bun or bread for other sandwiches.

1 envelope (.25 oz.) active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm (105° to 115° F) water
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil or other olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs of choice (rosemary leaves, basic leaves, sage, etc.)

Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the lukewarm water in a measuring cup or small bowl.

Let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes to dissolve.

Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl; mix well. Pour in the yeast mixture along with the olive oil.

Beat with a sturdy spoon until dough is stiff enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Cover, and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about 35 minutes.

Remove dough from the bowl and knead briefly on a floured surface. Roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush lightly with additional olive oil. If desired, top with coarsely ground pepper or shredded Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350°, allowing the bread to rest for about 15 minutes while the oven heats.

Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, or until golden-brown.

Serve warm

Makes about 18 servings.

Grilled Summer Vegetables With Herbed Olive Oil

[Pareve]

This nutrition-packed recipe makes a great salad, and its uses are endless. It can be the base for other salads, added to pasta dishes, and mixed with deli turkey or chicken to make a sandwich.

1 small eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch slices
salt
2 ears of fresh or frozen corn on the cob
1 large yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch slices
1 orange or red bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained
1 slice (1/2-inch thick) red onion
2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
6 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil or other olive oil
11/2 tsp. garlic-pepper seasoning
11/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat grill to medium direct heat.

Brush or drizzle the eggplant, corn, squash, bell pepper, artichoke hearts, onion and garlic with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of garlic-pepper seasoning.

Place all the vegetables on a grill (put the garlic on a small square of aluminum foil) and grill, uncovered, for 7 to 11 minutes, or until vegetables are hot and tender-crisp, turning once or twice. Remove vegetables from the grill and cool slightly.

Cut the corn from the cobs; and discard the cobs. Peel garlic, mash or finely chop. Place corn and garlic in a medium bowl.

Coarsely chop remaining vegetables; add (with any accumulated juices) to the bowl.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, thyme leaves, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic-pepper seasoning and salt. Toss to mix.

Makes six 1-cup servings.

Lime-Ginger Grilled Fruit

[Pareve]

3 tsps. grated lime peel
3 Tbsps. lime juice
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil or other olive oil
3 tsp. grated ginger root
1 Bosc or D'anjou pear
1 large crisp apple (such as Granny Smith or Braeburn)
2 navel oranges, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
11/2 cups blueberries or blackberries
11/2 cups coarsely chopped hulled strawberries
1 kiwi fruit, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
1/3 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Heat grill to medium direct heat.

Blend 1 tablespoon of lime juice and brown sugar in a small bowl to dissolve sugar. Blend in olive oil, 1 teaspoon lime peel and 1 teaspoon of ginger root.

Peel and core pear and apple, then cut into quarters.

Brush pineapple, pear and apple lightly with olive-oil mixture. Place fruit on grill.

Grill for 5 minutes.

Brush with remaining olive-oil mixture; then turn and grill for 4 to 6 minutes longer.

Remove from grill. Coarsely chop the grilled fruit into bite-size pieces.

Place grilled fruit, oranges, mango, blueberries, strawberries, remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1/3 cup powdered sugar (adding additional to taste depending on sweetness of fruit), remaining 2 teaspoons lime peel and 2 teaspoons of ginger root in a large bowl. Toss lightly to mix.

For best flavor, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Serve either in bowls or over sponge-cake cups or cake, if desired.

Serves 10 to 12.

Cherry-Nut Butterless Brownies

[Pareve]

1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil or other olive oil
2 oz. unsweetened pareve baking chocolate, cut up
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
1/8 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly oil the bottom of an 8-inch baking pan with olive oil; set aside.

Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil and chocolate in a medium saucepan. Melt chocolate over very low heat, stirring constantly. Blend in remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Remove from heat.

Add sugar; stir until blended and sugar is partially dissolved.

Add eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour, nuts, cherries and salt. Mix well.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 18 to 21 minutes, or just until the center appears set.

Remove from the oven and cool before cutting.

Serves 16.

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