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In the Kitchen: Simple summer suppers
Grilled chicken

School is out and summer is officially here! Here are some recipes and tips for enjoying some simple summer suppers during the upcoming hot months. 

Tips for summer cooking:

Come up with menu plans that don’t rely heavily on the oven. The outdoor grill should become your best friend. 

Burgers, chicken, pork chops, pork tenderloin and all sorts of seafood fare perfectly on the grill. 

Come up with two — or better yet —three weeks’ worth of menus and just play the rotation game. 

When prepping for dinner, think ahead. If you are making hamburgers, go ahead and make enough for another meal and freeze the patties. Don’t forget to label and date the package. 

The same goes for when you are shopping — if pork chops or chicken breasts are on sale, double up and buy enough for another meal. Again, label and date before freezing. 

Sandwiches and wraps make a terrific dinner — just pair with a pasta or potato salad and enjoy the night with no heating element needed. 

For easy cleanup, utilize paper plates occasionally. 

When grilling meat, add some vegetables to the mix. Just brush veggies with a little olive oil and add salt, pepper and other seasonings. 

When grilling chicken, make extra for tomorrow night’s meal — chicken salad, pasta salad with grilled chicken, grilled chicken sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, etc. 

Grill pizza! You can oil the grate and grill pizza directly on the grate or you can place your pizza stone on the grill and grill on top of the hot stone. 

Make a big batch of gazpacho and serve the delicious cold soup as part of a refreshingly cool dinner. Pair it with some chilled cocktail shrimp and you are sure to get rave reviews. 

If you do need to use the oven, bake your dish early in the day before the heat of the afternoon kicks in. Then, you can just heat up the dish on the grill or in the microwave, or serve it at room temperature. 

Quiche can easily be served at room temp along with a crisp green salad and some fruit. 

Marinated and grilled Dijon chicken breasts

4 bone-in chicken breasts

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, Dijon, salt, red pepper flakes, white wine vinegar, rosemary, parsley, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. 

Place chicken breasts in a plastic bag and pour marinade over. Marinate in the refrigerator preferably overnight, but for at least four hours. 

When ready to grill, let the chicken come to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling on a hot grill until done. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving. 

•    •    •

This grilled eggplant is delicious on its own, but would also be perfect when chopped up and tossed into a pasta salad, or when served as part of a platter of olives, artichoke hearts and salami. 

Grilled eggplant

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large eggplant, sliced into thick slices

1/3 cup fresh basil, cut into slivers

3 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

Lightly oil the grill grates. Grill the eggplant slices until they are soft and cooked through, about five to eight minutes per side. 

Transfer cooked eggplant to a platter and brush them with olive oil and sprinkle the slices with basil, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt. 

Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours. 

•    •    •

Grilled vegetable pasta salad

1 zucchini, halved lengthwise

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters

1/2 red onion, cut into ½-inch slices

1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 cups cooked rotini pasta

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into slivers

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Lightly brush zucchini, red pepper, onion slices and asparagus with a bit of the olive oil. Grill vegetables over medium-high heat until done, about four to five  minutes per side. 

Meanwhile, cook pasta in plenty of salted water until done. Rinse pasta quickly in cold water and drain well. Whisk together remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. 

When vegetables are done, roughly chop them and toss them with the cooked and drained pasta. 

Pour dressing over and add basil, oregano and grated parmesan cheese, tossing well. Serve now, or chill in the refrigerator, tossing again before serving.