It’s officially Summer and I am officially obsessed with grilling. Maybe it’s because as the temperatures rise it just gets too darn hot in my house to stand over the stovetop, but whatever it is, I would much rather spend my evenings cooking outside. Grilling is summer what roasting is to winter. If you’re into food at all you’ve probably noticed the roasting craze that has taken over Pinterest, food television, and cooking blogs. “When in doubt, roast it!” they say. I totally agree and 100% subscribe to that mantra. In the wintertime everything tastes better roasted. Roasted brussels sprouts, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, asparagus…you name it, it can be roasted. However, enter Summer and the oven takes a back seat to it’s cooler, adventurous, macho brother- the grill. If you can roast it, you can grill it. Since both methods are dry heat cooking they are practically interchangeable.
Why is it then, that most of us only use the grill to cook protein? Silly! Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we were able to complete an entire meal outside on the grill? No running back and forth…inside and outside…outside and inside. Craziness! I know every time I’m supposed to be manning the grill and the stovetop at the same time something suffers, and it’s usually whatever I’m grilling. What good is perfectly creamy risotto if the New York Strip you were planning to serve it with looks and tastes like beef jerky? Biggest bummer ever!
That’s why I’m making it my mission to keep it all outside this summer. If my meat is supposed to be grilled then my side dish will be too. Simple. Prep it all inside and then take it all outside to do the cooking. No more running to and fro like a crazy person trying to manage two ticking time bombs at once. I’m simplifying my summer cooking and meal planning.
So far this summer I’ve grilled bread for bruschetta, cherry tomatoes for a taco topping, green beans for a tangy salad, limes before squeezing them into guacamole, carrots for a sweet and smokey side dish, and yukon gold potatoes for a killer potato salad. I’ll have to share that potato recipe soon. I served it to my meat-and-potatoes-loving Dad and he LOVED it.
Start thinking about your side dishes when you plan to fire up the grill. Is there any reason why they can’t hit the grates as well? Just to prove that it can be done I want you try this grilled carrot recipe soon. I sliced my carrots into 1/4 inch thick strips, tossed them with salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil, and then dropped them right on the grill. The grill marks create a sweet, caramelized crust that brings out the carrots’ natural sweetness. Then toss it with a honey-citrus dressing, fresh mint and feta cheese, and you have a super unique and tasty take on this boring old root vegetable. Enjoy- and get grilling!
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices lengthwise
1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffonade (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat a grill over medium heat. Toss carrots with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Combine orange juice, red wine vinegar, honey, 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil and dijon mustard. Whisk vigorously until combined and slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Grill carrots for 2 to 3 minutes per side with the grill closed, careful not to burn. If needed, remove carrots from direct heat and continue cooking over indirect heat until softened and cooked through.
- Toss carrots with dressing, mint and feta cheese. Serve.
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