June Blog

Grilled Antipasto with Soprano Sauce

Cedar Planked Salmon

Maple-Rum Pineapple with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

     Summertime and the farmer’s markets are bursting!  Even this early in the summer, it is exciting to go to the market and see what the farmers have brought in this week.   In the summer, I make a grilled antipasto platter, a.k.a. a grilled veggie platter ever week.  I pick up whatever the local farmers are offering and I supplement those veggies with my favorite year ‘round fare such as mushrooms, scallions and sweet potatoes.

The trick to my Grilled Antipasto with Soprano Sauce is in the sauce! I grill my favorite vegetables simply using the Grilling Trilogy of olive oil, salt and pepper and lay them on a platter.  While they are still warm, I brush them with my “secret” Soprano sauce.  The sauce soaks into the veggies infusing them with loads of flavor. I love setting the platter out before my guests arrive because it is so colorful and beautiful.  I serve it as an appetizer or as my vegetable side dish depending on what kind of party it is.  The vegetables change with my whim and with the season but the all-purpose sauce of pureed olive oil, anchovies and garlic never varies.  It goes with everything.

Sometimes I make a whole meal of the grilled antipasto and grill hearty Ciabatta bread that I also brush with the sauce, and serve with the platter.  Veggies, bread and wine make a perfect picnic or light summer supper. The best part is that you can grill everything early in the day while you are getting your house together, arrange the veggies on a platter, sauce them up and they are ready for dinner!

Grill the pineapple slices for the Maple-Rum Pineapple with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream while you are grilling the veggies.  Make sure you grill the pineapple over very clean cooking grates or the sugar might burn and stick.  Take the pineapple off the grill, brush a final time with the maple-rum glaze and they’ll be ready for dessert when you are.

When you are ready to grill your dinner, you’ll only have one thing left to do and the Cedar-Planked Salmon is a snap to prepare!  The hardest thing about this dish is making sure you soak the cedar plank for 20-30 minutes before you want to cook it.  Prep the salmon with olive oil, salt and pepper and place skin side down on the plank.  You want to buy a 2-pound filet of salmon instead of salmon steaks for this recipe.  The magic of this technique is that you place the seasoned fish on the plank, put it on the grill, letting it cook without having to turn it.

I generally brush the fish lightly with my favorite barbecue sauce during the final ten minutes of the cooking time to give it a shiny glaze and a burst of flavor.  You can use any kind of sauce you like; Teriyaki is great as is pesto or Dijon mustard vinaigrette.  Salmon is a chameleon and works well with almost any global flavor profile.  The cedar plank scents the fish with a delicate woodsy flavor and provides it’s own serving platter.  I love serving the fish on the rustic, slightly charred plank—it makes me feel like I’m camping, even in my own backyard!

Grilled Antipasto with Soprano Sauce

Use the vegetables that I have listed here as a guideline but feel free to substitute your favorite seasonal vegetables.

Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Heat

Soprano Sauce:
6          anchovy fillets, drained and finely minced
4          cloves garlic, finely minced
1          tablespoon capers, drained and coarsely chopped
2/3       cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably from Tuscany
Sea salt, to taste

To make the Soprano Sauce: Combine the anchovies, garlic and capers in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season further with salt if desired. Set aside. (Alternatively, you can place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.)

2          small sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut into 8 long slices
4          medium zucchini, each cut into  long slices
2          small radicchio, cut into quarters
2          medium eggplants, cut into rounds

3          fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered

1          pound asparagus, trimmed
3          small bunches green onions, trimmed
1          pint small, ripe cherry tomatoes, tossed in a bowl with a little oil
1 – 2     tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, or parsley
4          lemons, cut into wedges
Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Lightly coat cut vegetables with olive oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

One by one lay the vegetable slices and green onions on the cooking grate over Direct/Medium heat. (Do this in batches if necessary so the grill is not crowded.) Cook about 5 minutes. Turn the vegetables over. Cook 3 or 4 minutes longer.  As soon as the vegetables are marked and tender, remove from grill and transfer to a platter or a sheet tray.  The zucchini, radicchio, asparagus and green onions should be done first; the eggplant will take a little longer and the sweet potatoes and fennel will be the last to cook through.  As soon as the vegetables are placed on the platter, brush generously with the Soprano Sauce.  You may need to grill the vegetables in batches.

When all the other vegetables are done, place the tomatoes on the cooking grate to mark and warm

through, about 2 minutes. Place onto the platter with the other vegetables. Brush with Soprano Sauce.  Let cool to room temperature.  Just before serving, sprinkle with herbs, decorate with lemon wedges and serve with extra Soprano Sauce on the side.

Serves 6-8

Cedar-Planked Barbecue Salmon

Brush a center-cut fillet with your favorite barbecue sauce during the final ten minutes of the cooking time for a simple sweet and tangy glaze that adds a rosy sheen and a burst of flavor. 

Grilling Method: Indirect/Medium Heat

1          salmon fillet, skin on (about 2 ½ to3 poundsand 12-14 incheslong)

½         cup white wine

1 ½      tablespoons freshly ground pepper

1 ½      tablespoons sea salt

            Olive oil

½         cup favorite barbecue sauce

Special Equipment: 1 Grill Friends™ Cedar Organic Grilling Plank

Preheat gas or charcoal grill and set for indirect/medium heat grilling.

In a sink or container large enough to hold the plank, immerse the plank in water for 30 min. or longer (you may need to weigh it down).

Place the salmon fillet, skin side down, on a baking sheet with sides.  In a small bowl, mix together the white wine, salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture over the salmon.  Cover the salmon with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Uncover the salmon and place it, skin side down, in the middle of the plank and brush with olive oil. Place plank in center of grill and close lid. Cook over medium indirect heat for 25-35 minutes. Brush fish with barbecue sauce during last 10 minutes of cooking time. Fish is done when the flesh flakes easily with a fork. The internal temperature should be between 140-145ºF depending on desired degree of doneness..

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8 to 10

Grilled Maple Rum Pineapple with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Low Heat

1 ½      cups dried coconut, toasted

1          pint best-quality vanilla ice cream, softened

Golden pineapple, cut into rings

¼         cup butter, melted

½         cup dark rum

¼         cup maple syrup

Special Equipment:  VacuVin Pineapple Slicer

Put 1 cup of the toasted coconut in a metal or glass bowl.  Add softened ice cream and mix until incorporated.  Put ice cream back into pint container to re-freeze.

Meanwhile, using a Pineapple slicer or a knife, cut pineapple in rings and set aside. Mix butter, rum and maple syrup and brush both sides of pineapple with the sweet glaze.

Just before serving, place pineapple rings directly on a very clean cooking grate and grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until marked and warmed through.  Be careful not to leave much longer as the pineapple burns easily.

Divide ice cream among 4 bowls.  Top with grilled pineapple and a sprinkle of the remaining coconut.


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a food fanatic and the Grill Girl from North Carolina who has seasoned, basted and tasted my way across the country. Please join me on my non-stop, culinary journey...

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