There are times in life when one needs a “go-to” menu that takes no time to prepare, because you have no time to prepare it. I know this to be true because it is the story of my life. Even though it’s summer, it seems like Life really doesn’t slow down…we just have a different time of busy…& that’s how An Impromptu Summer Grilling Menu evolved. Truly…this menu clearly was unrehearsed, unprepared & spontaneous…because I had no time to do otherwise.
So, this is the story of the menu…Janetta came to stay with us the first week of July, just after we returned from 8 days of violin camp. Janetta is one of our best friends & Émilie’s Godmother. She is truly a sister to me. Anyhoo, it was a total treat to have her as we hadn’t seen her in 6 months…she & Émilie especially spent a great deal of time together…one of the perks of summer! During her visit, we taught an appetizer class sponsored by The Fresh Market at Williams-Sonoma (I hope you read my Fourth of July blog last week & enjoyed the recipes)…we attended Émilie’s swim meet…we went to dinner…Chip gave Janetta canaries, which meant a trip to PetSmart…I wrote last week’s blog, which nearly took all day…I worked at the hospital on Thursday while Janetta photographed a potential client’s estate…Janetta is a prominent watercolor artist in Nashville…she visited with our Greensboro friends. We were on the go.
Last Wednesday evening, we had planned to go out to dinner with some of the girls. However, by the time I finished the blog, the girls swam & bought canary paraphernalia, etc…we were a tad tired, & just wanted to be home, making dinner. I texted the girls & made the change…at 4 in the afternoon. Everyone was arriving at 7.
Time to improvise. I went to The Fresh Market & bought split chicken breasts…which their butchers will debone for no additional charge…a sourdough baguette & hard-cooked eggs…next, I went to a local produce stand & purchased fresh corn, tomatoes, onions & peaches…I needed to decide quickly what to make for dinner. It was 5 o’clock.
Among the things I like most about summer entertaining is the grill. For whatever reason, grilled food just tastes better when it’s hot outside. I don’t know if it’s the char, the flavor that grilling imparts, or the food itself that’s being grilled…grilling makes everything taste great! Plus, Bert loves to grill…which makes my life easier. The best part about grilling is you can entertain last minute. That concept is key in the Newsome household, because many times I do entertain on an impromptu basis.
In the summer, we grill whole onions in their skins once a week…if you have never done this, you should. The onions become incredibly sweet. We grill the onions over direct heat for an hour or so for medium onions , & longer for larger ones. Usually, we serve the onions without any seasoning. This time, I wanted a quick twist…we removed the onions from their skins, coarsely chopped, added salt, pepper & a splash of balsamic glaze…voilà! Skinny Balsamic Onion Salad.
While the onions were grilling, I soaked the corn in their husks in water for 20-25 minutes, then placed the unshucked corn on the grill…we served the grilled corn with basil-infused melted butter…the basil came from our garden & the combination tasted like “summer in your mouth”…have you ever served melted butter with fresh corn? It is divine!
…but, before we grilled the corn…we prepared the Toasted Panzanella Salad…summer tomatoes, basil, garlic & toasted baguette cubes…nothing should taste this good…
…& made the Lemon Basil Deviled Eggs for an appetizer…I had never added lemon & basil to deviled eggs, & it is really tasty…ever since I learned about the hard-cooked eggs at The Fresh Market, I have trying all sorts of deviled egg combinations…thank you, Katie & Sheila! I think for a party of 6, 12 deviled eggs are enough…but I did get a little nervous, though, & added camembert topped with Stonewall Kitchen’s Roasted Garlic Onion Jam…I keep a jar in my pantry at all times…just in case…the combination is a definite people-pleaser…
…next, Peach Granola Crisp…Janetta brought us her homemade granola, which is sublime…combining the granola with a little brown sugar & melted butter, then topping the peaches with this mixture was awesome! Any granola would work, but you have to be careful about the amount of brown sugar you use…if the granola is already pretty sweet, go with the “Less is More” concept…
the last thing to do was prepare the Grilled Summer Rubbed Chicken…I had bought a new rub from Williams-Sonoma the day we taught class…Diavolo Rub…if you are a Fra Diavolo fan, you will love this stuff…I went back & bought 2 more…it is going on everything! Bert grilled the corn & the chicken while I made the salads…dinner done in 75 minutes…
…which, I think is pretty good for an impromptu get-together, don’t you agree?
For a cocktail, try my recipe for Sparkling Sangria…it’s easy & refreshing…I think you will really like it.
Now, I must admit, I repeated this menu last Sunday for 2 of our best friends, Anne & Pete…Anne had to have hand surgery & she needed a little TLC…we came back from the lake late, and got everything done…in the same amount of time…
…which is great, because we were all able to catch-up, have fun & enjoy a good meal…this menu is definitely one of my summer “go-to’s”…it’s easy & quick…if you have time, prepare the tomatoes, eggs & crisp early in the day…so all you have to do grill the onions, corn & chicken. But, if you are pressed for time…like me…you will be fine last-minute! I love impromptu get-togethers!
Enjoy your weekend…cheers!
An Impromptu Summer Grilling Menu