Of the cookouts I’ve been to, I would guess that 90% featured some combination of beef, hot dogs, or bratwurst. Occasionally, you’ll see barbecued pork or chicken, but not as frequently. And even less frequently than that are things like grilled veggies or fish.
The most difficult part of transitioning from the expected array of meat, to a brighter, and healthier menu will probably just be persuading the attendees that they don’t need the additional fat and cholesterol from more red meat. T will be much easier if the food you’re presenting is fun, colorful, and delicious, so a simple answer is grilled kabobs. The fact that the word ‘kabob’ is fun to say is an added bonus.
Vegetable kabobs are so easy to make, it’s a shame they’re not more common. Grilling is perfect for cooking in the summertime as it keeps heat outside of the house. Additionally, you can almost use any vegetable you can get your hands on. The colors make a beautiful display, and with the use of seasonings or marinades, and seasonal vegetables, flavor will never be lacking either. If you feel like you need to have protein in the meal, you can always add chicken or shrimp to the mix.
Some suggestions for great summertime grilling vegetables include corn (chop cob into inch-wide sections,) zucchini, red onion, mushrooms, and red, yellow, and green peppers. Vegetable pieces should be as uniform in size as possible and cooked on a skewer over a medium-heat grill. If you do decide to cook chicken or shrimp as well, make sure they have their own skewers because they will have varied cooking times to the vegetables. Grill the veggies until half-cooked to get a smoky flavor but retain some crunch. If you’re a fan of sweet and savory together, try adding some pineapple to your veggie skewers.
There are many marinade and seasoning options when it comes to grilling. Adobo, Thai, or fajita seasonings are a simple option, that can be applied dry, or mixed with butter. A seasoned butter is simple to brush over the food before, during, and after grilling, and you can add more while eating if you want more flavor. The following is a simple and easy marinade recipe, courtesy of Sarah Bender, that you can use on anything you’d like to throw on the grill.
¼ C. Extra virgin olive oil
2 T. Balsamic or white vinegar
½ t. ea. Dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, Himalayan pink or sea salt
¼ t. ea. Chili powder, black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Mix marinade ingredients together in a bowl, pour over food to marinate in shallow dish, and let sit in the fridge for at least ½ an hour before grilling.
If you’d like to try a spicier marinade, try the following.
3 T. olive oil
½ T. red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Directions are the same as above. For stronger tastes, leave food in marinade as long as you can, even overnight.