I know it’s officially summertime and complaints of this nature have become a reoccurring theme in my blog posts lately, but I am not kidding when I say it’s gettin’ hot in here. Today, thankfully, the temperature peaked only around 88 and the little cold front was a welcome relief in preparation for the 107 high on Friday.
I’ve been told I am a cold-natured person. You can typically find me wrapped in a blanket and swaddled in a sweatshirt while shivering in the office A/C. Refrigerated grocery store aisles are my nemesis, leaving me longing for the moment when I step back out onto the sizzling parking lot for relief of my shivers. This is all of course rather ironic as my decedents hail from the Nordic region and I myself hail from the frozen tundra that is upstate New York.
Hopefully this gives you a better idea of the heat we are talking about here. Heat so hot, that even I am too hot to tolerate it for extended periods of time – at least until the fiery inferno ball (aka the sun) begins its decent. This is the time for good grillin’.
As apartment dwellers, J and I are prohibited from having any sort of grill in our humble abode. Apparently open flames are considered a fire hazard for other tenants or some bs like that. Lame. So when we want to get our grill on, we have to relocate. Luckily, proximity has its value in the form of a grill at J’s parents house – complete with a big ol’ porch to eat on. Use of said grill and porch are free reign when they are out of town – like now and you can bet I’m taking full advantage of gobbling as much chard goodness while I can.
Tonight’s menu? Grilled Eggplant Caprese Salads, Grilled Corn on the Cob, and Grilled Chicken atop a strawberry salad. I’m not going to share with you the chicken recipe – marinate and grill some chicken, stick atop some salad and throw some strawberries in, done. But I am going to elaborate on the other items, 1. because grilling corn can be tricky to newbies, and 2. everybody loves a good caprese salad.
Let’s start with the corn, shall we? This is not difficult, I promise. But if you are like me and have never grilled corn before (the horror) it’s a good skill to have. Why? Because grilled corn far superseded any boiled or steamed corn in the flavor department by miles. MILES I say! You get the chary, grilled flavor that mingles with the sweetness of the corn to create an explosion of salty and buttery goodness so good, you’ll never want to boil your corn again.
First, pick up some corn – It’s in season now so good, yellow sweet corn should be relatively easy to find (and cheap to boot!). Peel it down but don’t remove the husks – these are your ‘handles’ on the grill. Get rid of all the corn silk and place the corn in a pot of water to soak so husks don’t burn.
Get the grill nice and hot and place the corn on the grill, husks facing out towards you. Grab a stick of butter and slather away – you want to get some nice grill marks going. Once they look done (I’m so technical, I know) sprinkle those suckers with some salt, remove the husks if you can (they may be hot so watch out!) and gnaw away! The perfect summer side-dish!Easy, huh?
Next something not as easy but just as tasty:
Grilled Eggplant Caprese Salad
Yields: 2 Servings
- 1 eggplant
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- big bowl of water
- olive oil
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
- fresh basil
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- course sea salt for sprinkling
- Dissolve the salt in a large bowl of water
- Using a knife or peeler, peel off alternating sections of the eggplant’s skin
- slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices
- Submerge the slices in the bowl of salt water and weigh them down with a bowl or plate to keep them submerged
- Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes – this is to get rid of any bitterness in the eggplant
- While waiting for the eggplant, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Put the mince garlic in the vinegar and stir.
- Allow the mixture to heat up slowly, infusing the vinegar with a bit of garlic, and stirring sporadically, while you cook and prep the rest of the salad.
- Once the eggplant slices have soaked for a bit, remove them from the bowl and set on a paper towel. Blot dry.
- Using a pastry brush, wipe each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
- Place the eggplant slices on a hot grill, oil side down and oil and salt the other side of the slices
- Allow to cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until brown and flip.
- Once the eggplant slices are browned on each side, transfer to a foil lined plate and wrap to allow the eggplant to continue to steam while you prep the other ingredients.
- Thinly slice the mozzarella and tomatoes.
- Pull of the basil leaves from their stems. I like to leave the leaves whole, but if you feel the need to chiffin0de them, have at it.
- Build your salad as follows: Slice of eggplant, basil leaf, tomato slice, mozzarella slice, repeat.
- Once the salad is the size of your liking (I did three layers on a small plate for each of us) drizzle with a bit of the garlic infused balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt.
The eggplant adds a grilled and earthy element to the fresh taste of the salad, that could easily be a meal in itself. I hope you give it a try!