May 19, 2000
Summertime and the living is easy. Keep it simple and unhurried in the kitchen, too, during this sensual season of relaxed outdoor gatherings, sizzling backyard barbecues and tantalizing flavors. Just choose from a bounty of fresh produce, have a few zesty condiments on hand for marinades and light up the grill. With these three steps, you'll not only streamline weeknight meal preparation, but find it easier than ever to serve family-pleasing dishes this summer.
For starters, look in the produce department for extra sweet pineapple and mild, Georgia-grown sweet Vidalia onions-by far the world's sweetest. The distinctive taste of these succulent onions is due to their unique growing conditions which produce a high sugar content and low pungency. Store Vidalia onions in a dry, cool place and treat them gently; their higher sugar and water content means they can bruise easily.
Pineapple, always a year-round treat, is now available in a delectable "extra sweet" variety that offers consistent value and quality. Grown in sunny Costa Rica, this brightly colored yellow fruit is twice as sweet as traditional pineapple varieties with four times the Vitamin C. Used in a zesty sweet-sour salsa or a tropical fruit salad, extra sweet pineapple is a hands-down winner.
Two condiments that perfectly enhance summer foods are lemon juice from concentrate and Dijon mustard. A griller's best friend, and one of the most versatile pantry staples available, lemon juice from concentrate gives a fresh lemony "zing!" to everything from seafood and meats to fruits and vegetables. Busy cooks will appreciate how easy it is to use-no slicing or squeezing required-and its consistent taste from bottle to bottle. With Dijon mustard on hand in a convenient squeeze bottle, it's easy to create dishes with outstanding flavor from only a few ingredients. Its subtle blend of herbs and spices enhances many foods, from grilled chicken to shrimp kabobs or a zesty couscous salad, providing surprising richness and distinct flavor.
So fire up the grill and relax this summer. Your mealtimes are guaranteed easy and delicious with these recipes.
Tropical Fruit Salad
Makes 7 cups
1. Cut pineapple in half lengthwise. Remove fruit, leaving 1-inch shell and reserving any juice. Refrigerate pineapple shell until serving.
2. Cut pineapple into 1-inch pieces, removing core; reserve ¼ cup pineapple pieces. Mix remaining pineapple with assorted fruit in large bowl.
3. Puree ¼ cup pineapple, any reserved pineapple juice,
lemon juice and honey in blender until smooth. Toss with fruit and 2 tablespoons mint. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until serving.
4. Spoon fruit and dressing into pineapple shell. Garnish with remaining mint.
Sweet and Zesty Grilled Chicken
Makes 6 servings
1. Blend mustard, honey and garlic powder in small bowl.
2. Grill chicken over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally and brushing with mustard mixture frequently.
*6 chicken breast halves with bone and skin may be substituted. Grill for 20 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, brushing with mustard mixture during last 10 minutes.
Zesty Grilled Onions
Makes 4 servings
1. Cut each onion crosswise into 4 slices; secure onion slices with toothpicks to retain shape. Set aside.
2. Blend mustard, oil and chili powder in small bowl.
3. Grill onion slices over medium heat 6 to 7 minutes per side, brushing with mustard mixture and turning occasionally until fully cooked and well glazed.
4. Remove toothpicks; serve onions hot as an accompaniment to grilled meats or poultry.
Citrus Shrimp Kabobs
Makes 4 servings
1. Blend lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, oil, honey and oregano in small bowl. Place shrimp and 1/3 cup juice mixture in nonmetal bowl or plastic bag; refrigerate for 1 hour, turning occasionally. Reserve remaining juice mixture.
2. Remove shrimp, discarding marinade. Place shrimp alternately with pepper pieces on metal skewers.*
3. Grill over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side, brushing with reserved marinade.
*Wooden skewers may be substituted. Soak skewers in water for 1 hour before using.
Makes 3 1/2 cups
1. Blend pineapple, bell pepper, onion, vinegar, cilantro and jalapeño pepper in medium bowl. Refrigerate, covered, for 4 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Serve salsa over grilled seafood or chicken or with chips.
Confetti Couscous Salad
Makes 8 servings
1. Prepare couscous according to package directions; cool.
2. Whisk mustard, lemon juice, oil, parsley and garlic in small bowl until blended; set aside ¼ cup dressing.
3. Toss couscous in large bowl with bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, remaining dressing and salt to taste. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
4. Toss with reserved dressing before serving.