Summer Cookout (or Cook-In) Ideas for Memorial Day

KT Hall

If you're nostalgic about the upcoming holiday, maybe it’s the backyard barbecue smell or the delicate scent of citronella candles. Perhaps it’s the grill marks on your favorite veggies seared to perfection. But with all the ongoing coronavirus news, do we really need to hear about how to get rid of maskne (face mask acne)? Don’t let the stay-at-home orders and social distancing talk get you down. Whip up a quarantini (see our cool drink recipes at the end). Then, try out a few of these summer cookout favorites for your holiday, graduation party, or weekend, binge-streaming marathon. 

Grab a plate and fork - We're going in!

Veget-About It!

Grilled veggies are healthy, easy on the waistline, and packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Here are a few grilling recipes to explore: 

Mixed Vegetable Skewers

This yummy dish is flavorful and spicy. Serve it with a side of jasmine or basmati rice. 

Ingredients

●      Large steak tomatoes

●      Zucchini

●      Red onions

●      Mushrooms

●      Peppers

●      Paneer (optional)

Instructions

Preheat your indoor grill with oil. Cut your veggies and add them onto the skewer sticks. Grill on both sides. Create a tasty hung curd dip and marinade for the veggies with this recipe.

Grilled Eggplant with Yu Xiang Sauce

This delicious eggplant dish is crunchy outside and buttery tender inside. The spiced garlic sauce is pungent and satisfying, making this a great side or standalone.

Ingredients

●      2 large Asian eggplants

●      Peanut oil

●      Szechuan sauce

Instructions

Cut the eggplants lengthwise and score the insides. Wash them thoroughly and then brush them with oil and season lightly with salt. Grill both sides and serve them with the Szechuan sauce recipe here.

Grilled Corn with Miso Butter

A sweet and charred taste that’s pleasing to the pallet, try this miso and corn recipe. 

Ingredients

●      Corn on the cob

●      Saikyo Miso

Instructions

Shuck the corn, wash it off, and then grill it. Serve it with this Miso Butter recipe which includes honey, butter, miso, and soy sauce. Mi-so lovin' this butter!

Want a Few More Ideas?

Here are a few other veggie dishes to consider:

●      Chinese Grilled Potatoes: The secret is the cumin and chili powder.

●      Hoisin Grilled Asparagus: With a good char, these are oh-so-tender. 

Hey! What’s Steaking?

If you want a delicious entrée that’s full of flavor, light up the grill or plug in your electric grill. Then, make one of these yummy dishes.

Tofu Steak with Avocado Chimichurri

It's easy to make this healthy recipe and the marinade helps to remove the tofu taste. 

Ingredients

●      1 package of extra-firm tofu 

●      1 tablespoon of maple syrup

●      1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, ground paprika, onion powder, nutritional yeast flakes, and roasted sesame oil

●      1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme and cumin

●      2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Instructions

Set the oven to 400-degrees. Drain the tofu and cut it lengthwise into 8 even slices. Mix the ingredients and pour it on the tofu. Let it sit for 20-minutes. Prepare your avocado chimichurri with this recipe. Put the tofu slices on a pre-greased baking sheet and let them cook for 30-minutes. Garnish the top with the avocado sauce and serve. Yum!

Glazed and Infused Honey Sesame Soy Tofu

This skewer tofu recipe is packed with protein and it's super easy to prepare. Double the recipe so you'll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy later on.

Ingredients 

●      2 tablespoons each of honey, soy sauce, lime juice, and sesame oil

●      1 pound extra-firm tofu drained and cut into cubes

●      2 tablespoons of sesame seeds 

●      Peeled lime skin in curls (optional)

Instructions

Mix the honey, lime juice, sesame oil, and soy sauce together. Add the mix to the tofu and let it marinate for 2-hours. Put the tofu on the skewers and grill on medium heat for 2-minutes on each side. Brush with any leftover glaze. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and add the lime curls as a garnish and serve. Zesty and sweet!

Need More Ideas?

Here are a few other meat dishes to try:

●      Negima Yakitori: These barbecue chicken thighs are mouth-watering.

●      Korean Barbecue Short Ribs: Buy an extra pack as these succulent and sweet fan-favorites will go fast.

●      Grilled Five-Spice Chicken: The dry rub makes these flavorful but not overpowering.

●      Dry Rub BBQ Chicken:  The secret is the dry rub. Second secret? Using a smoker to lock in the flavor. 

Chill Out: Spirits, Spritzers, and Shakes

The sound of the blender whipping up frosty summer treats can liven up any cookout or cook-in. Here are a few ideas for festive summer holiday drinks.

Shakes and Smoothies

●      Whip up an orange dreamsicle with fresh or frozen mango. 

●      Create a rich and heavenly strawberry shortcake shake (we won’t tell).

●      Make your own caramel frappuccino (no standing in line, no 6-feet apart rules).

●      Blend up a fresh mixed-berry shake on ice. Berry nice, right?

Spritzers and Cocktails

●      White Sangria or Red Sangria with fresh fruit

●      White wine spritzers or red wine spritzers for cocktails

●      Quarantini anyone? Surprise your guests with one of these social distancing friendly cocktails.

Wine

Finding the perfect wine for your meal can help compliment the flavors. Here are a few options. 

with Meat and Seafood...

●      If you’re making barbecue ribs, pair them with a pinot noir (matches the smoky and tangy caramelized taste). 

●      For a zesty sausage and pasta salad, partner it with a Lambrusco (to let the acidity reduce the sausage’s fatty taste). 

●      Have smoked brisket with a Beaujolais (the berry notes and tannins will enhance the succulent meat flavor). 

●      Serve grilled shrimp with a Red Zinfandel. The char from the shrimp will dance on your taste buds when partnered with the red. 

●      Pair lobster, lobster rolls, and crab cakes with a light and nutty White Burgundy or Chablis. 

with Fruit and Veggies...

●      Save the Oaked Chardonnay for grilled corn on the cob (recipe above). 

●      A Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely with veggie kabobs (recipe above) to harmonize the flavors.

●      Match potato salad and coleslaw with Rieslings (the sour-sweet notes are crisp and refreshing).

●      Making a watermelon feta salad? Serve it with a Dry Rose (the tang matches the watermelon’s sweetness).

Get Your Chill On!

Who says you can't chillax during a quarantine? While the pandemic has temporarily changed how we go out, it doesn't have to change how we eat and entertain in. Stores may have a limit or short supply with some ingredients. However, with plenty of substitutions, it's easy to improvise. And, with so many delicious dishes to try, you won't have to worry about your family cramming together at the table. They'll all run off in their designated corners with their plates (and mouths watering) as they whisper, "My precious!" like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. Bon Appetit!