If you're planting a spring garden, or just planning to visit your farmers' market, warm weather means fresh fruit and vegetables with an explosion of options for summer grill menus.
"Summer produce brings bold flavors and new colors to the backyard barbecue," says Robin Kline, registered dietitian and director of the Pork Information Bureau (PIB) for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). "Wake up sleepy winter taste buds by pairing produce with a lean meat like pork and the barbecue grill."
Kline recommends building a grilled meal around lean pork chops and sizzling grilled side dishes, taking a "whatever's fresh" approach to the grill equation. Mix and match sizes, shapes and colors for sense appeal, from thick green asparagus in spring to golden "roaster" ears of corn in August.
For minimal preparation, Kline suggests grilling whole or halved fresh vegetables, brushed with olive oil. Grilled corn on the cob, potatoes, sweet onions, sweet potatoes and bell peppers make colorful—and flavorful—side dishes. Or, create a summer medley by seasoning chopped veggies with ground black pepper, garlic and oregano, wrapping tightly in foil and grilling for 10-15 minutes.
For a patio repast with a personal touch, set up a veggie kabob bar with fresh vegetables like mushroom caps, cherry tomatoes, sliced zucchini, broccoli florets and garlic. Turn a side dish into a main meal by cutting pork chops into 1-inch cubes and threading on skewers with vegetables.
On hot summer days, balance the sizzle of the grill with cool, crisp vegetables and refreshingly sweet fruit served on the side. Combine vegetables and fruit to create new low-fat salads.
Combine fresh vegetables with leftover grilled meat to create delicious next-day sandwiches and salads. Kline recommends grilling an extra pork chop to use for these ideas:
Create Cool Pasta Salads—Toss chunks of leftover grilled pork with pasta shells or penne, diced bell peppers and tomatoes, and dress with a light vinaigrette.
Go for Greens—Leafy greens make cool summer salads. Toss greens, sliced tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers and mushrooms with leftover thinly sliced grilled pork chop. Squeeze on fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Jazz Up Sandwiches—Pile thinly sliced pork chop and grilled vegetables on a crusty roll, kaiser or tortilla. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh herbs and enjoy.
Marinades are great flavor carriers that enhance any grilled food. Marinating overnight is ideal, although with some strong-flavored marinades, 30 minutes prior to cooking imparts flavor, too. Don't overlook bottled marinades at the store, or use your favorite bottled Italian-style salad dressing. Leftover marinade may be used for basting on the grill, but discard any leftover marinade—do not re-use.
In self-sealing bag, combine together 1 cup orange juice, 4 tablespoons lime juice, 3 cloves crushed garlic, 2 seeded and chopped chipotle peppers (rehydrate if dried), 2 teaspoons oregano and 1 teaspoon crushed cumin seed. Add 4 pork chops to bag, seal and refrigerate overnight.
In self-sealing bag, combine 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon dry sherry and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Add 4 pork chops to bag, seal and refrigerate overnight.
Rubs are mixtures of spices and herbs that create unique flavoring additions when rubbed onto the surface of meat. Rubs combine with the juices drawn from the meat and work like a "dry" marinade. Rubs can be applied to meat, covered and refrigerated overnight, as typical for marinades, or applied 10-20 minutes before grilling.
Caribbean Jerk Rub
In jar with tight-fitting lid, shake together 2 tablespoons dried minced onion, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 4 teaspoons dry thyme leaves, crushed, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons black pepper and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Makes 1/2 cup. Store in jar; use for coating pork chops.
In jar with tight-fitting lid, shake together 2 tablespoons paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons cayenne, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves and 1 teaspoon oregano leaves. Makes about 1/2 cup. Store in jar; use for coating pork chops.
Provided by Pork Information Bureau
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified January 2007
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