Woo-hoo! Not only is this weekend a three day weekend, but it's also my big Memorial Day/start of summer BBQ. Yesterday I made a flyer invitation and emailed it to everyone I know. Today I'm putting together an edible outdoor feast for a crowd. Instead of choosing one culinary theme and sticking with it, I'm taking elements from a variety of cuisines to create a cohesive summer inspired menu. The seafood skewer appetizers have Asian influences, while the Caprese style pasta salad has Mediterranean flavors. The barbecued ribs are all American and the grilled eggplant (for the vegetarians) has a Greek feel. On the side - a simple fresh fruit salad. Doesn't all this talk about bbq food make you hungry?? Let me tempt you more with the recipes, just
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound fusilli pasta
12 ounces tomatoes, coarsely chopped
8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup minced pitted oil-cured black olives
- Blend first 5 ingredients in processor until tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Set dressing aside.
- Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl.
- Add dressing to hot pasta; toss to coat. Cool, stirring occasionally.
- Add chopped fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, Parmesan and olives; toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make ahead: can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.
2 racks baby back ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 recipe Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cut the racks of ribs in half crosswise. Rub the ribs, paying special attention to the meaty side, with 1/2 cup of the sauce.
- Lay the rib pieces meat side down in an 11 by 13-inch baking dish. The pieces will overlap slightly.
- Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the meat begins to pull away from the ends of the bones and the ribs are just tender, about 1 hour. You can bake the ribs up to a day before and keep them refrigerated. Bring refrigerated ribs to room temperature about 1 hour before you grill them.
- Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.
- Grill the ribs, brushing them with about half the remaining sauce, until they're crispy and heated through, about 10 minutes. Move the ribs around as they grill, the sugar in barbecue sauce makes it easy for them to burn.
- Let the ribs rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting them into 1 or 2-bone pieces.
- Put out the rest of the sauce for dipping or brush it over the ribs.
Bourbon Barbeque Sauce:
1/2 cup steak sauce
1/2 cup bourbon or good dark beer
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon regular or grainy Dijon mustard
2 pinches red pepper flakes
Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
2 medium eggplants, (about 1 pound each)
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium cucumber, seeded, coarsely grated, and squeezed of excess moisture
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
- Heat grill to medium-high.
- Halve eggplants lengthwise; slice off enough from skin side so halves lay flat. Brush both sides of eggplant halves with oil; season generously with salt and pepper.
- Grill until tender, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine cucumber, yogurt, parsley, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.
- Serve sauce with grilled eggplant and lemon wedges, if desired.
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cantaloupe, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound fresh apricots, quartered
1/2 pound sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 pound red seedless grapes
6 fresh figs, quartered
2 apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 pears, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 peaches, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 banana, sliced
basil leaves, for garnish
- In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil over moderate heat. Add the sugar and vanilla and simmer until a light syrup forms, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- Pour the warm syrup into a large bowl. Gently stir in the fruit and let macerate at room temperature for several hours, stirring occasionally.
- Refrigerate the fruit salad until chilled.
- Garnish with basil leaves just before serving.