Enjoy a healthy summer by grilling your favorite foods. As I am not a hamburger, hot dog entertainer, I do appreciate others who like that type of July 4th BBQ, so please do.
Below I suggest a different type of grilled July 4th late day supper. I offer you my various ideas to choose from, like mussels to start with, then some delicious minty artichokes and grilled radicchio. Follow this up with grilled Chicken Bruschetta or a grilled Sicilian Swordfish with lemon, all healthy but scrumptious and easy to do! Make side dishes of ‘Corn that Italians Love’ and grilled asparagus with shaved Parmigiano.
Decorate you tables with red, white and blue and sip some wine or icy cocktails and enjoy your day.
Put an Italian spin on your dinner by incorporating your culture into your entertaining and show off what Italians can do – Your guests will thank you!
Mussels alla Piastra
The Piastra method of grilling is a time honored Italian technique – used often on hot summer evenings – that essentially means cooking on a flat griddle – the piastra itself.
4 lbs mussels (scrubbed and debearded)
zest and juice of 1 orange, grated
zest and juice of 1 lemon, grated
1 jalapeno pepper (thinly sliced)
1 cup toasted bread crumbs
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto (coarsely chopped)
1 bunch lemon thyme (leaves only)
2 scallions (thinly sliced)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a splash of white wine
Preheat your grill. Place a piastra on the grill for at least 15 minutes.
Put the mussels into a large metal bowl and drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the bread crumbs, prosciutto, lemon thyme, orange and lemon zests and juices, jalapeno and scallions in a food processor and zap until well mixed, six or seven pulses.
Add breadcrumb mixture to mussels and toss to combine. Pour the olive oil onto the piastra (if your piastra is not large enough, cook the mussels in two batches). Working quickly, dump the mussels (with everything else in the bowl) onto the piastra. Add a splash of white wine and cover with the inverted bowl. Remove the bowl after 2 minutes and gently stir the mussels around. Continue cooking uncovered, for about 3 minutes longer, until they all open. Transfer the mussels to a platter as they open and discard any that do not open. Scrape up any breadcrumb mixture remaining on the piastra, scatter it over the mussels. Squeeze a little extra lemon juice on top and serve immediately.
Grilled Artichokes with Lemon and Mint
2 lemons, halved
6 large artichokes
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Squeeze juice from halved lemons into large bowl filled with cold water. Cut stem off 1 artichoke, leaving about 1 inch. Snap off outer 2 rows of leaves. Cut off top 1/3 of artichoke. Quarter artichoke lengthwise. Using small knife, cut out choke and prickly small leaves. Place artichoke in lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Drain artichokes and add to pot. Boil until crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Transfer artichokes to rack and cool.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Whisk oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice and mint in small bowl. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Brush artichokes with dressing. Grill until tender and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes. Transfer artichokes to platter. Drizzle with some of remaining dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Grilled Radicchio with Gorgonzola, Olive Oil and Balsamic
2 whole heads radicchio, split in half through core
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Place the radicchio cut side-down directly over the heat. Grill until lightly charred on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip and season the tops with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until second side is charred, about 2 minutes longer. Cover and cook until fully tender, about 1 more minute.
Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the Gorgonzola. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.
Grilled Swordfish with Lemon Sauce
Fresh swordfish is found in abundance along the coast in Italy. Simple yet delicious, this dish can be prepared in minutes. The sauce is a vibrant blend of olive oil, lemon, garlic, parsley and oregano. Drizzled over the fish, it enhances the flavor of the seafood and is particularly appropriate over lightly breaded swordfish. Freshness is key for this sauce, so only use fresh herbs and prepare it as close to serving time as possible.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 swordfish steaks, at least 1 inch thick, cut in half lengthwise (about 1 ½ lbs. total weight)
1 cup seasoned fresh bread crumbs
6 tbsp olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
zest from ½ lemon
2 tbsp hot water
6 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
Lightly brush the swordfish steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the bread crumbs on a shallow plate and lay the swordfish on top. Bread both sides, pressing the crumbs onto the sides of the fish as well, so they stick. Refrigerate for about an hour.
Just before grilling the swordfish, place the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat. Keep warm. Fire up the grill and once hot, cook the swordfish steaks over medium heat for 3 minutes; flip and grill for two minutes on the other side. The outer breaded coating should be golden brown, while the interior of the swordfish steak remains moist. Serve immediately, with a drizzle of the lemon sauce.
Grilled Tomato Bruschetta Chicken
Cooking chicken breasts on the grill is an art. You do not want the breasts to dry out, but want each to be fully cooked. Try this method that uses an open lid for the first side and a closed lid after flipping the chicken. Topped with fresh tomato bruschetta, it makes a delightful and refreshing summer recipe.
To make the tomato bruschetta, place chopped tomatoes in a medium to large mixing bowl. Add the chopped basil and minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Gently toss all of the ingredients and allow to sit for at least one hour.
Start the grill. Make sure that it is up to a medium-high temperature before cooking. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian herbs. Cook the first side for about 7-8 minutes with the grill lid open. Flip the breasts and add slices of the Fontina cheese to each. Cook for about 2-3 minutes with the grill lid closed. Once the cheese has melted, finish cooking with the lid open another 2-3 minutes.
Place on a serving platter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, then top with the freshly-prepared Bruschetta. Serve immediately.
Grilled Asparagus with Parmigiano
1 lb large asparagus, ends trimmed
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
Preheat the grill to medium. In a shallow baking dish, toss the asparagus with olive oil to coat well. Add the salt and pepper and toss. Place the asparagus on the grill in a single layer and cook, turning until marked and tender, about 12 to 15 min.
Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. When ready to serve, top with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Corn That Italians Love
6 ears corn, shucked
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 to 1½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
hot red pepper flakes
Pre-heat your grill. Place the corn on the hottest part of the grill and cook for 3 minutes, or until grill marks appear on the first side. Roll each ear over a quarter turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then repeat two more times. Meanwhile, mix the oil and vinegar on a large flat plate. Spread the Parmigiano on another flat plate. When the corn is cooked, roll each ear in the olive oil and vinegar mixture, shake off the extra liquid and dredge in the Parmigiano to coat lightly. Place on a platter. Sprinkle with the mint and the pepper flakes and serve immediately.