Ready, sweet tomatoes and a garlicky slammed aubergine purée make this an incredible summer’s night dish
Mackerel must be my preferred fish for cooking outside over an open fire. Its skin crisps flawlessly while underneath the slick substance remains sodden and delicate. The fresher the mackerel, the more sensitive and heavenly its flavor will be, so select fish with decent brilliant eyes and energetic, bright skin.
4 good-sized, super-fresh mackerel, gutted and cleaned 2 tbsp olive oil 4 sprigs of rosemary 250g large, ripe tomatoes, halved 2 medium aubergines 2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated 1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste) A pinch of dried chilli flakes A handful of basil leaves, chopped 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare your fire; you want to be cooking over glowing embers. When the fire is hot, set a grill over it, making sure it’s clean so your fish is less likely to stick to the bars. You’ll know the temperature is right when you can hover your hand above the grill for a maximum of 3 seconds.
Lay the fish on a board and, using a sharp knife, cut several shallow slash marks on both sides. Trickle 1 tbsp olive oil over the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper and rub in, getting right into the slash marks. Place a couple of rosemary sprigs in each fish cavity. Set the fish on the grill. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and place, cut side up, next to the fish. Place the aubergines (uncut) on the grill too.
Turn the aubergines every few minutes, to ensure they cook evenly. The fish will take 6–8 minutes on each side, depending on size. Don’t worry if the skin tears; the fish will still taste amazing. Once the mackerel are cooked, remove them from the grill and keep warm. Turn the tomatoes after 10–15 minutes and keep cooking them until they are soft and caramelised, then remove them to a plate.
When the aubergines are soft (this will take about 20 minutes), slit open and scoop the soft flesh out into a bowl. Add the garlic, tahini, chilli flakes, basil, extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. Mix and mash the aubergine with the seasonings.
Divide the aubergine purée between 4 plates. Add the tomatoes and fish and serve.
I’ve had this idea written up on my nice little kitchen chalkboard for at least three weeks now. The name “Watermelon Chicken Salad” sat there happily on the board right next to all my other random ideas, most of which have since gotten scratched off and erased and replaced with something new because I actually made them and posted them. For whatever reason, this little guy lingered. Another week would pass with no sign of a watermelon chicken salad, but for whatever reason when I’d clean off my board for the week, I really didn’t want to erase the idea just yet. I had this premonition of great things to come.
Speaking of great things.
In the three weeks that “Watermelon Chicken Salad” has been staring me down from the chalkboard, I’ve bought 8 million watermelons with very good intentions, thinking that each of them would be the one I’d use to make some kind of inspired and beautiful salad. But then I discovered this drink instead and every single piece of watermelon since has been doomed for the blender. Or my mouth. Today I ate it for breakfast, which is so weird, but actually not as weird as watermelon in a salad.
And I have a really important question. Why is watermelon like candy? It’s so incredibly good. Juicy, bright, sweet, red… it’s basically large
cubes of all-natural Jolly Ranchers. Have you ever frozen watermelon cubes? <— That. You’re welcome.
So I got a really great bottle of balsamic and starting thinking about salads, and BAM. The inspiration for this salad finally hit and wowzzer. The long wait to actually make this combo happen was totally worth it. Here she is, in all her blue cheese crumbled, rainbow colored, crunchy almond, sweet balsamic glazed glory.
Pinky promise, as I am writing this, I can hear Bjork’s fork + plate clinking together at record speed as he is devouring this in the next room.
The salty blue cheese to me was the thing that tied it all together. You have the sweetness of the watermelon and the balsamic glaze, the savory of the seasoned chicken, the crunch of the almonds, the freshness of the spinach, and then that blue cheese. Oh, the salty, creamy tang that makes my heart go wild. I am making a weird “I LOVE IT” face right now as I’m writing this because I don’t even really know how to describe what I’m trying to say – you get it, though, right? Through computer food osmosis, are we kind of experiencing it together?
Color, crunch, and yum. I want that to be the tagline of my life.
Pretty salad, come to mama.
This Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad has blue cheese, watermelon, almonds, herbed chicken, and a balsamic glaze. Simple and fresh.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 teaspoons all purpose seasoning (I used a spice mix I got at a specialty food store)
1 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups baby spinach or greens
2 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup sliced or crushed almonds
Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the balsamic vinegar is significantly reduced and starting to become syrupy.
Meanwhile, turn a grill or nonstick skillet to high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning on both sides and drizzle with the olive oil. Transfer to the hot grill and cook until no longer pink on the inside and nicely browned on the outside. Let rest for 5 minutes; cut into small cubes.
Layer the spinach with the chicken, watermelon, blue cheese, almonds, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction to taste. Top with additional olive oil if desired.
Grilling is always fun. We usually have a family barbecue every Sunday. It’s lots of fun and a great way to catch up with each other after a busy week. One of the problems I run in to is finding new recipes to grill. (With recent lock downs and quarantines we’ve had to barbecue for those of us in the household, other family members barbecue at their homes to maintain social distancing. But hopefully soon we can all get together again for this family tradition!)
Sure hot dogs, burgers, and steaks are easy, but every now and then we need a change. That’s why I’m always in search of a new barbecue recipe. I like to try them out during this weekly family dinner, and if everyone likes it we make it part of our menu.
Last month I tried this new marinade, mostly because I had all the ingredients in the pantry. (Again with the pandemic quarantine we try to keep shopping trips to a minimum). But also because I love balsamic vinegar, which is the main ingredient to this recipe. I call it Beef Kabobs in Vinaigrette Marinade.
The best part about marinades is that it flavors your meat with very little work. It’s simple, just toss the ingredients together, soak the meat, and let the marinade do the rest of the work! I marinate my meat in the refrigerator overnight. The longer is marinates the more flavorful it will be, but you don’t want to marinate it more than a day or so, because when marinated too long the meat starts getting this tough jerky like texture and it may eventually spoil. If for some reason we don’t use the marinated meat the next day I freeze it, marinade and all. That way I just thaw it out when we’re ready to grill.
Just before grilling I skewer the beef cubes on bamboo skewers, but you can use metal skewers if you have them. We do have a bunch of pretty metal skewers we brought home from Turkey one year, but cleaning them after the barbecues is an extra chore I can do without. When you do use bamboo skewers remember to soak them in water for about 10 – 15 minutes before putting the meat on, it keeps them from burning when you pop them on the grill.
Another helpful tip when grilling is to not over cook the meat. Grill meat until it is just about done to the way you want it (rare, medium, well). In short remove it from the grill before it is the desired “doneness”. Place grilled meat in a covered pot or roasting pan and let rest covered for 5 minutes before serving. This allows the meat to finish cooking and to release its juices. Try it out! You’ll end up with tender juicy meat! It works for steaks too!
Having said that here’s my recipe for Vinaigrette Marinade! By the way you can use the same marinade on chicken, lamb, or shrimp. Just don’t mix the meats, make a separate batch of marinade for each type of meat or seafood.
3 Lbs. Beef Tenderloin cut in 1″ cubes (you can use your favorite beef cut)
1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Finely Minced Garlic
1 Tbs. Fresh or Dried Rosemary
1 Tbs. Fresh or Dried Oregano
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Large Onions cut into large chunks
1 Large Green Pepper cut into large pieces
1 Basket Mushrooms, washed and patted dry
Combine Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, and seasonings in a large ziplock bag. Seal bag and shake to combine all the ingredients together.
Add meat cubes to the marinade. Seal bag and shake to cover all the meat.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours, for best flavor marinate in the fridge overnight.
About and hour or less before grilling place meat, onions, peppers, and
mushrooms on skewers. Alternate meat with veggies.
Grill over medium heat until meat is just about done the way you want it.
Place skewers in a large pot or roasting pan with a lid. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to allow meat to finish cooking and release its juices.
Serve hot with rice, potatoes, and other sides.
Beef Kabobs in Vinaigrette Marinade
Tender, juicy, and flavorful grilled meat that's perfect for any cook out.
Whenever we are in LA there’s this place we frequent, Zankou Chicken; although their specialty is the delicious rotisserie chicken they also serve beef and chicken kebobs and shawarma wraps. We love the beef shawarma so much that we buy a dozen or so to take home with us.
Since there are no trips planned to LA anytime soon I decided to try my hand at making my own.
Shawarma is usually cooked on a spit and slow roasted as it turn, I don’t have one of those machines so I found a way to make it using just my oven and stove top.
To make the meat extra tender I used thinly sliced boneless beef short ribs with all the fat trimmed off. I adapted a chinese restaurant method used to tenderize their stir fry meat and it made my ribs very tender.
The secret to great shawarma is the spices used to marinate the meat. So get out your spice rack to make this tasty recipe. We make it into wraps using either pita bread or nan. Served with crunchy dill pickles and my sun dried tomato/roasted red pepper hummus and you’ve got a filling meal.
My family thinks my version is just as good as the shawarma we buy at Zankou!
Are you looking for something delicious for dinner? Something easy to make and good enough to serve company? Then this One Skillet Creamy Tuscan Chicken is just the thing!
This dish is not only delicious it’s pretty too! The spinach and sun dried tomatoes give this dish a festive look. I serve it with steamed long grain rice or pasta. Oh, and by the way it’s keto friendly, just serve it with zucchini spaghetti!
But the best part about this Creamy Tuscan Chicken is that it’s so easy to make. You really just need one skillet. I use a pretty skillet that can double as the serving dish so clean up’s a breeze!