The fourth of July, Independence Day and the forecast is sunny and hot here in western Kentucky. Many of us will still brave the heat to celebrate our countries independence. We will watch fireworks, listen to good music, visit with family and friends and I bet a fair many of us will be standing over the barbeque grill - preparing a family favorite to celebrate the holiday.
Too hot to eat or cook
I always hear people saying that it’s so hot, they don’t have an appetite. Well, it has been scientifically proven that you still need to eat to provide fuel to your body so it can cool itself. The source of the fuel can be just about anything but why not eat healthy if you can.
My kitchen can get hot, especially in the summer. I cook on a gas range and, whenever possible, I try to move the heat out of the kitchen, say to the grill.
A grill used with a little creativity can be an extremely versatile tool. You can prepare everything from pizza to pork barbeque, kebabs to burgers and almost anything in between. Many gas grills come with side burners or sear blocks that only expand their versatility. If you have a side burner, you can use it to slow cook beans, steam vegetables or boil pasta or seafood to round out your meal.
One of my favorite dishes to prepare for the Fourth is barbequed ribs. I use a dry rub on them and let them sit overnight, then cook them low and slow on my grill. While I’ve got the grill hot, I also plan on making a pasta salad with grilled vegetables. I will still have to heat up the kitchen a little, as I opted for a sear block instead of a burner on my grill, but that’s a small price to pay.
Remember to celebrate responsibly this year. I’m not just referring to the consumption of adult beverages either. Please keep in mind your neighbors who may have to work, your pets who may be afraid of fireworks, and the potential danger of improperly handling fireworks. Live, Laugh, Love, and Eat Well this Independence Day.
Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables Parsley and Feta
Courtesy of Food and Wine
Prep Time about 25 minutes
- ¾ pound orecchiette pasta (you can use any small pasta like penne, farfalle, or shells)
- ½ pound thin asparagus cleaned
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise ¼ inch thick
- ½ small eggplant, sliced lengthwise ½ inch thick
- 7 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ½ TBSP fresh lemon juice (about the juice of 1 lemon)
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 4oz French feta cheese (about ¾ cup) crumbled
- 1 cup parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
Light the grill or preheat a grill pan. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water. Drain well then transfer the pasta to a large bowl.
Brush the asparagus, zucchini and eggplant with 2 TBSP of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables over moderately high heat. Turn the asparagus several times, until crisp-tender and charred, about 2 minutes. Turn the zucchini once, until tender and charred, about 3 minutes. Turn the eggplant once, until tender and charred, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to a work surface. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch lengths. Cut the zucchini crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Halve the eggplant slices lengthwise, then cut them crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Add the grilled vegetables to the pasta.
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the shallot and remaining 5 TBSP olive oil. Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss to coat. Add the feta cheese, parsley and olives and season with salt and pepper. Toss again and serve.
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