Couples Grill Night

Summer is the perfect time to get the blender going, fire up the grill, and have some friends over for a meal you can all take part in.

What doesn’t taste better with a Frozen Mangotini in one hand? The grilled quesadillas are a fun appetizer to start. Marinate the meats and make the cilantro pesto ahead of time. Otherwise, share the preparation with your guests. Everyone loves to mess around in the kitchen, and it makes for great conversation.

For dessert, get inspired by our many area farmer’s markets and make fresh fruit sundaes, layering Homer’s fresh Peach Ice Cream with fresh berries and peaches; drizzle with a little Italian Prosecco and you’ve got the stuff dreams are made of.

Frozen Mangotinis
(serves 4 – you’ll make a few batches, natch!)

  • 2 cups crushed ice
  • 1 cup citrus vodka
  • 1 cup mango juice
  • 1 cup limeade (or lemonade)
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau or triple sec
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks

Put all ingredients in blender and pulse to process and break up mango chunks, then puree. Pour into martini glasses and garnish with a lime wedge. If you are feeling ambitious, you can sugar the glass rim!

Sweet Pea Guacamole

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and oregano
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 pound bag frozen petite peas, defrosted overnight in fridge
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion

In food processor with steel blade, place lime juice, oil, jalapeno, garlic, spices and cilantro. Puree. Add peas; puree to desired texture. Stir in red onion, serve with (baked?) corn chips on the side. I try to use red, blue and yellow chips if possible.

Grilled Quesadillas w/ Goat Cheese, Cilantro Pesto and Black Beans
(serves 8)

  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 8 ounces Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup cilantro pesto (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans (canned is fine)
  • 8- 6” flour (or corn) tortillas

In small bowl, combine cheeses, cilantro pesto and black beans. Spread on 1/2 of each tortilla. Fold in half. Grill over medium-low fire until cheese has melted, and tortillas are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Cut each quesadilla in half and serve with Frontera’s Tomatillo salsa.

Cilantro Pesto

  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup grated dry Jack cheese or Asiago
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, seeds, and lime juice. Add cheese and pulse to combine. With motor running, slowly add olive oil through the feed tube until sauce comes together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Will keep for three days, covered, in refrigerator.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound bag frozen corn kernels, defrosted overnight in fridge
  • 1 each: red and green bell peppers, diced
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cumin and chile powder (ancho is best)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine veggies in a large bowl. In separate bowl, combine oil, vinegar and spices. Stir to blend. Pour over bean mixture and toss gently to combine. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before serving to blend flavors. (If you make it ahead of time, take it out of the fridge an hour before service.)

Herby Green Rice

  • 3 cups chicken stock (low-sodium)
  • Handful each: cilantro, parsley (stems and all)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 poblano chile, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2/3 cups long-grain white rice

In medium pot, combine stock, herbs, garlic and chile over high heat and bring to a boil. Let simmer 20 minutes, cool slightly, then puree in food processor. Wipe out pan and add olive oil, onion and salt. Saute 2 minutes. Add rice and saute over medium heat, stirring often, for three minutes. Add warm broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook fifteen minutes. Remove from heat, let stand ten minutes. Fluff and serve.

Grilled Tuna for Fajitas

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice and zest of 1 each: orange and lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon each: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Four 6-ounce pieces of fresh tuna filet

Combine all marinade ingredients and pour over tuna; marinate for 3-4 hours. Cook tuna on a very hot grill for 3 minutes on each side until medium rare. Slice tuna and arrange on platter.

Skirt Steak for Fajitas

  • 1-1/2 pounds beef skirt steak, trimmed of most visible fat
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Cut steak crosswise into four pieces. In medium size tupperware or gallon ziploc bag, combine remaining ingredients. Add steak, turn to coat mixture. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Heat grill and grill meat 3-4 minutes per side to medium rare. Transfer steaks to cutting board, let stand 1 minute, then slice steaks diagonally across the grain into 1/4″ thick slices. Arrange on platter and serve with fixins.

FIXINs: Tomatillo Salsa, Tomato Salsa, Grilled or chopped red onions, sauteed red and green peppers, sour cream, etc.