I love summer because I love summer food! Growing up, grilling or having a BBQ meant hamburgers and hotdogs with potato salad, watermelon, potato chips, and all the condiments. But there is so much more you can do with a gas (or charcoal) grill!
Years ago, my husband and I expanded grilling to include chicken and the occasional steak. Expanding our grill options was a twofold experience. First, my husband had to learn more about grilling, and I had to find recipes! We’ve become quite the team now!
The foundation or centerpiece of a summer BBQ meal is the grilled meat. My father didn’t do the grilling when I was growing up, and I only remember my mom grilling hamburgers or hotdogs. I loved those nights, but as an adult, I wanted more than just hamburgers and hotdogs.
Hamburgers and hotdogs are staple summer grilled meats that my husband and daughters love.
I love chicken. My husband? Not so much. But grilled boneless chicken breasts quickly became part of our family’s summer repertoire.
Now our grilling season includes steak, chicken breasts, polish dogs, bratwurst, salmon, and shrimp. If I have lamb, we’ll grill that on skewers with vegetables. Of course, hotdogs and hamburgers are still in the rotation. I have some rope sausage in the freezer with plans to have grilled sausage!
Flavor Ideas for Meats and Seafood
I am one who thinks steak does not need anything except some salt and pepper. So when we grill steaks, I just use salt and pepper. Sometimes, we’ll top the steak with garlic butter. My husband still insists on eating his steak with steak sauce, but the girls and I want the natural beef flavor to come through.
Some tougher cuts of beef do better with a marinade. Likewise, if you want to grill stew meat on skewers with veggies, you’ll wish to use a marinade.
A simple marinade option that works well for beef or chicken is to simply mix Italian Salad Dressing (bottle — not packet) with Worcheshire Sauce. These days I make my own Italian Dressing using Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar (or Basalmic or Red Wine Vinegar depending on what flavor profile I want that day), garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. You could use Italian seasoning instead of basil and garlic. I use equal amounts of oil and vinegar. Shake it well and use it as a dressing for your salad or mix Italian Dressing with Worcheshire Sauce and marinade your beef or chicken.
Lemon Juice with Olive Oil, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper makes an excellent marinade for cubed lamb. It also makes a perfect marinade for chicken.
The Everyday Cooking book by Vicki Bently has some great recipes for simple marinades like Fajita, Teriyaki, or Shish Kebab. One thing that I have done that Mrs. Bently also suggests is to make the marinade the day you go shopping and then freeze your meat with the marinade. I often mix up marinades for chicken and freeze the chicken with the marinade.
For salmon and shrimp, I keep it simple. I spray the salmon with avocado oil and add salt and pepper. I love garlic butter with salmon and with shrimp. For shrimp, I toss it in oil with garlic, salt, and pepper. Sometimes I might add some basil or oregano. I put the shrimp on a skewer to make it easier to grill.
Grilling Is Not Just for Meat
But we do not just grill meat and seafood! We’ve also started grilling some side dishes too. My favorite is grilled asparagus! We’ve done grilled cauliflower and broccoli too. Right now, I am not eating potatoes or sweet potatoes, but I suspect those would be awesome if they were par-cooked, chunked, or sliced, and then grilled.
Using Grilled Meats for Entree Salads
We are blessed to live in an area that generally has moderate summer temperatures. But this year, with the Heat Dome, we had some excessively high temperatures. I knew I did not want to cook, and I knew it would be too hot to even grill for a few days.
When I know that a heatwave is coming or if I just want to have extra steak, chicken, or salmon on hand for lunches, I ask my husband to grill the extras first and then grill our dinner. In the days leading up to the worse part of the Heat Dome, we grilled Teriyaki chicken for dinner one night but also grilled some chicken in the lemon juice and olive oil marinade for a pasta salad on another night. One night we grilled steak and grilled some chicken to have another night as part of my Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta salad. We still had delicious grilled chicken to eat cold for the several days that were too hot even to grill.
Left-over grilled salmon or steak make excellent additions to a large leafy green salad for lunch the next day!
What do you like to grill? Do you grill year-round or only in the summer?
Thank you to Tess Hamre of Circling Through This Life for writing this article.
Tess had planned to balance a semi-professional career in theatre with being a wife and mother. God had other plans. She and her husband John have been married for 25 years and have four amazing daughters. She was first introduced to the idea of home education when her oldest daughter was a mere 14 months old. Three of her daughters have graduated their home school but Tess continues to home educate her medically fragile, special needs, miracle girl. Tess joined the crew in June 2010 as it began its 3rd year. She lives in wet, rainy, but beautiful western Washington with her family. You can find Tess blogging at Circling Through This Life.