Grilling Appetizers

It's summer -- well, almost -- and that means it's time to start grilling. Or, if you're like me, continue grilling! Our grill does its duty year round at my house -- even if that means firing it up in the darkness of night while wind, snow and any other of the millions of varieties of precipitation fall on me. Of course, summer means that we're far more likely to enjoy nicer weather and sunny skies while we put our favorite foods to flame.

Since grilling is an oft-covered topic in this publication, I thought it might be nice to cover a subject that might end up overlooked: appetizers. Why shouldn't we take advantage of the grill when it comes to appetizers? Using the grill makes most of these fast and easy with little or no cleanup. What more could you ask for? In fact, you might want to add some of your favorite dips and dippers and make it an appetizer party on your deck!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Citrus Chicken Kabobs

The marinade for the chicken makes these morsels tasty and juicy. Make mini-kebobs if you're expecting a large crowd and are making a lot of different appetizers.
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 green pepper -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 orange pepper -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 oz. can pineapple chunks -- drained, juice reserved
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic -- minced
  • 2 T. olive oil

Using long metal skewers -- or bamboo ones that have been soaked in water -- thread the chicken, vegetables and pineapple on in an order that places the chicken between vegetables. Set aside in a large pan.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a jar. Seal and shake vigorously to mix. Pour the marinade over the skewers and refrigerate for 30 minutes -- turning the skewers once halfway through.

Prepare the grill and grill the kebobs for about 20 minutes -- turning them once halfway through. Serve on the skewers or place all of the grilled items together in a large bowl.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time

Grilled Shrimp Salads

While I've been known to make these delicious salads into a main course with bread and a glass of wine, you can also arrange the ingredients on lettuce leaves and pass them around. Just remember the napkins!
  • 1 lb. large shrimp -- peeled and devined
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. corn kernels
  • 2 T. diced red onion
  • 1/2 c. black beans -- rinsed and drained
  • 2 T. sliced green onion
  • 1 large tomato -- diced
  • 2 T. chili oil
  • 1/4 c. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 T. rice vinegar
  • 12 oz. baby spinach leaves

Combine the shrimp, chili powder and olive oil. Prepare a grill and grill over medium heat until cooked -- about 5 minutes -- turning once halfway through.

Meanwhile, combine all of the vegetables, except the spinach leaves, in a bowl. Add the chili oil, lime juice, salt and vinegar and toss to coat. Place a bed of spinach leaves on a plate and arrange the shrimp and vegetable medley over it. If desired, serve this salad over a toasted pita round for a main dish meal.

  • Yields: 8 appetizer servings or 4 main dish servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Grilled Vegetable Medley

Serving these tidbits with soft pita bread, hummus and other Middle Eastern dips will make for a lovely beginning to any grilled chicken dinner.
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 8 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz. pear tomatoes
  • 8 oz. medium shrimp
  • 1 c. Italian dressing -- choose your favorite bottled variety or make your own

Combine all of the ingredients in a resealable bag. Seal and turn the bad to evenly coat the mixture. Prepare a grill and grill in a basket for about 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the shrimp are pink.

  • Yields: 5 cups
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Finally, it only seems appropriate that with talking about grilling nibblers for your table that we also take a little time to talk about dessert. Now, while a wise man I know once said that he had a hard time keeping the baked Alaska or hot fudge from disappearing through the grill, I'm not going to let that stop me! Actually, one of my favorite grilled desserts does involve ice cream -- although it doesn't actually spend any quality time with the grill. Here it is -- simple and delicious!

Grilled Fruit Sundae

Use any number of fruits in this recipe. My favorites include peaches and plums paired with a sweet plum wine in the simple syrup. I usually make more than I need so I can use leftovers over everything from pancakes to pound cake.
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter -- melted
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 3 T. lime juice
  • 2 T. sweet wine or rum
  • Fruit of your choice -- peaches, nectarines, plums, pineapple and firm bananas all make great choices
  • Vanilla ice cream

Stir together the first 5 ingredients until a smooth glaze is made. Toss your desired fruit in the glaze and coat evenly. For peaches, nectarines or plums, grill with the cut side down for about 10 minutes, turning after 7 minutes. For pineapple, grill for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through. For bananas, slice in half crosswise and grill about 6 minutes, turning once about halfway through. Serve over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle any remaining glaze over the top.

  • Yields: Depends on how much fruit you use
  • Preparation Time: Depends on which fruits you use
Happy grilling!