Eating Outdoors

When July rolls around, we're more likely to fire up the grill than turn on the oven to put together a meal after work or on the weekends. It's more than just that 4th of July "must-grill-or-you're-not-patriotic" thing -- it's just easier, faster and keeps the kitchen cool in a month in which our electric bills look more like a typical college tuition bill than a charge for using a little extra juice!

So, in the spirit of keeping cool, saving time and eating well, I present a couple of my favorite meals to make on the grill and enjoy in the great outdoors. I usually accompany most of these meals with a simple side dish and a glass of wine. Who says you can't enjoy the best summer has to offer in the comfort of your own backyard?

Grilled Thai Beef

This spicy dish calls for a side dish of cool sliced cucumbers in a simple dressing of honey and rice wine vinegar. Toss in some crushed red pepper flakes if you are up for more heat!
  • 2 well-trimmed boneless beef top loin steaks, 1" thick
  • 3 T. prepared teriyaki sauce
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2" slices
  • 2 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. prepared teriyaki sauce
  • 2 T. water

Brush both sides of the beef steaks and onion with the 3 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce. Place the steaks and onion on the grill over a medium flame. Grill the steaks, uncovered, 15 to 18 minutes or until the steaks are medium-rare to medium doneness and the onion is tender, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the peanut butter and red pepper flakes; with a fork, gradually stir in the 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce and water until smooth.

Carve the steaks crosswise into thick slices; serve with the onion and sauce.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Salmon with Tomato-Ginger Relish

A simple tossed salad of fresh mixed greens, sliced red onions and wedges of ripe tomato will nicely compliment this meal.
  • 4 salmon steaks, 6 oz. each
  • 3 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
  • 3 large plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 yellow tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 T. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce

Place the salmon steaks in a glass dish. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the salmon with the olive oil and sprinkle it with 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Combine the plum and yellow tomatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the remaining ingredients (basil through soy sauce) in a bowl.

Place the salmon on an oiled grill over a medium flame. Grill, brushing with oil and turning once, just until the fish begins to flake when tested with a fork, allowing approximately 10 minutes cooking time per inch thickness of the fish. To serve, divide the tomato relish on 4 plates and place the hot fish on top.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes