Memorial Day weekend is here, and that signals the start of summer for most of us. And for many cooks (at least the ones who don't shovel snow off their decks to get to the grill during the winter) that means it's the start of grilling season.
If you have fond childhood memories of the standard American-style cookout with burgers and hot dogs, you're not alone. But maybe you grew tired long ago of basic cookout fare and figured out that grilling is good for so many other things (not that we don't enjoy a good burger, or even a good hot dog, every now and then, but there's more to life, yes?). And grilling makes summer meals a breeze - you get less mess and less heat in the kitchen, and it's really pleasant at the end of a warm day to relax outdoors with some food and drink - so it only makes sense to introduce as much variety into your grilling routine as possible.
Lucinda Scala Quinn is one of the busier people in the world of cooking. In addition to hosting a Sirius XM radio show (EatDrink) and authoring several cookbooks, Quinn is also the Executive Food Editor at Martha Stewart Living Omnivision and hosts Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn, which airs weekdays on The Hallmark Channel. On Tuesday, May 31, Mad Hungry will air an episode which aims to get us ready for summer grilling in which Lucinda will present some great options for warm weather eating. This simple but exciting menu pairs lamb burgers served in pita bread with carrot-parsnip fries, and the adults at the table can accompany their meal with a cucumber mint gin and tonic.
Bursting with the flavor of fresh herbs and vegetables, these recipes are excellent choices for both family dining and entertaining, and they maximize flavor and sophistication while emphasizing healthy eating. Not a bad deal at all, and a really nice way to greet the season.
Credits: All recipes as seen on Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn on Hallmark Channel.
Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn airs weekdays at 11am/10c on The Hallmark Channel.
Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce & Parsley Salad
2 pounds ground lamb
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 cup packed parsley leaves
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 individual pitas or 4 regular pitas
Preheat the outdoor grill or indoor grill pan.
In a bowl combine lamb, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and curry powder. Form into 8 3-inch by 2-inch oblong patties. Set aside to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile make the tzatziki sauce and parsley salad: In a medium bowl combine yogurt, cucumber, mint, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and lemon zest and juice. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine tomato, parsley, red onion, and olive oil. Set aside. When the burgers have come to room temperature and the grill is hot, grill the burgers to desired doneness, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Stuff burgers, tzatziki sauce, and parsley salad into pitas and serve immediately.
Carrot & Parsnip Fries
5 medium carrots
3 medium parsnips
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center of the oven.
Peel carrots and parsnips and halve crosswise. Slice lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick planks. Slice lengthwise again to make ¼-inch-thick fries.
Place on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with oil, salt, and red pepper flakes. Spread into a single layer and roast, turning veggies once, until crisp and golden brown in places, about 20 minutes.
Cucumber Mint Gin and Tonic
3 sprigs of mint
2-inch piece English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 ounces gin
1 thin wedge cucumber, for garnish
Strip leaves from two sprigs of mint and place in the bottom of a highball glass along with cucumber. Muddle with a muddling stick or the handle of a wooden spoon. Fill a glass with ice. Pour gin over ice, top off glass with tonic, stirring once, and garnish with remaining mint sprig and thin cucumber wedge.