The warmth of the sun on my skin, walking barefoot, going to the beach, gardening, and summer outdoor festivals are few of the things that fill me with pure joy! Which is why I wait in anticipation every close of winter for the spring and summer months. I’m like a pet waiting at the door for its owner to come home. Hello Summer!
One of my most favorite summer activities that I look forward to is cooking out. With each cookout that my family or church throws I go all out to prepare a fresh veggie meal for myself, and sometimes my family. This pass Sunday my church held its annual park outing. This is when we close the doors of the church building and open ourselves to the natural elements that God has provided for us. Anything outdoorsy is so my speed, and to combine that with cooking is bliss. If you haven’t guessed I am somewhat of a hippie. I take pride in my love of nature and all things natural because I believe natural is the way things should be. Consequently, the meal that I planned for myself is all natural. No preservatives, artificial flavors, or anything from a box or bag. This meal is clean, fun to prepare, healthy.
A menu for veggie champions!
Mushroom and pineapple burger
Grilled asparagus sticks
Fresh and delicious fruit salad
Portobello Mushroom and pineapple burger and Asparagus
My all time favorite meal is a mushroom burger and sweet potato fries. This is also a meal that I mostly cook in the fall as sweet potatoes are fall season veggie. But as it is summer time I decided to spruce up my normal mushroom burger by adding a little tropical flavor. The pineapple on top of this burger adds a refreshingly sweet flavor to the savory mushroom. Let your picky meat-eaters try this and they just may reconsider their diet. For this meal, and some others, I used what I like to call the trio (Olive oil, salt and pepper). So when ever you see me refer to “the trio” just know that I mean: Olive oil, salt and pepper.
What you will need
2 Large Portobello Mushroom
One small onion sliced
The Trio (Olive oil, salt and pepper)
1 Pineapple Sliced (cutting directions to follow)
Marinate Portobello Mushrooms using the trio and a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar (you may want to determine the right amount of balsamic vinegar for yourself. If you use too much the mushroom is over powered by the strong vinegar. So gage it however way you think necessary). Mushrooms are very absorbent, so they do not need a very long marinating process; 1-2 hours should be enough time.
In the meantime, slice the pineapple. You will need a good serrated knife. Cut the top and bottom of the pineapple the ensure stability. Stand pineapple on its bottom and cut along the sides removing the skin. Do not get to obsessive compulsive trying to remove the pits, as you may take away too much of the fruit. Once you have finish removing the skin, thinly slice 2 slice of the pineapple widthwise creating nicely cut pineapple circles. With a paring knife cut out the core of the slices. Set the unused pineapple aside for the fruit salad.
Prep your grill.
On a medium hot grill add the marinated mushrooms, the two pineapple slices and the onions.
While these are grilling, season the asparagus with the trio and throw those on the grill with the other items. Grill each item until they form nice grill marks. Remember: these are all veggies so it is not necessary to cook them through and through (you can certainly have a raw mushroom burger), you only need to thoroughly heat them to get all the grilled flavors. To the mushrooms, you can add your favorite cheese, or keep it vegan and add your favorite non-dairy cheese.
Once these items are done set aside covered with foil to keep warm until ready to serve. When ready, assemble mushroom, pineapple, and onion on a thick whole wheat bun.
Fresh and delicious Fruit salad
Fruit salad is a quintessential summer snack. Fruit is naturally packed with water. So when you add fruit to your diet you automatically add water: Just what your body needs during the sweltering hot summer months!
You will need
One carton of fresh strawberries
One carton of fresh Blackberries
One small Watermelon
Rinse all your fruit. Remove leaves from strawberries and cut in halves and then quarters. Remove grapes from stems. Add both to a large bowl with Blackberries. Slice pineapple into quarters lengthwise. Slice the core from each quarter to remove the hard middle. Slice each quarter to small pieces to match the sizes of the strawberries. Cut watermelon into quarters and remove from rind. Cut the quarters into small pieces just as the pineapples. Add pineapple and watermelon to the bowl. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the mixture. Mix well being careful not to break the fruit pieces.
Put in refrigerator to chill until time to serve.
I had fun making this dish with my mom. At one point a potato went flying across the room.
You will need
4 Red potatoes
2 small onions
1 Red peppers
1 orange pepper
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
Baby bella mushrooms
2 Yellow Squash
If using wooden skewers soak in water over night. Try adding freshly chopped rosemary to the water to infuse the skewers with flavor.
Chop vegetables into small identical pieces, except for mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, (the corn will be hard. After a while we just stopped) and season with the trio, lime juice and zest, and fresh basil (Proud to announce that my garden is thriving and I was able to harvest some basil for this recipe).
Assemble skewers by adding each veggie and topping with a cherry tomato. Put on grill until potatoes are cooked through. Be sure to rotate every few minutes.