Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Accompaniment for grilled dinners

 

Right now the grills are as busy as a bee at the Rose Bowl Parade. It’s so hot, though, no one is thinking football or flowers. Just focusing on the tick-tick-tick-whoosh of the sprinkler and little giggling voices coming from the swimming pool. Not even the hum of the air conditioner can drown out the gurgle of your stomach. It’s dinner time. Grill time.

Just in time to accompany grilled creations, farmers markets are in full swing. Giant juicy tomatoes, stalks of asparagus, fresh-dug carrots, crisp lettuce leaves and aromatic yellow and white onions. Sound a little too un-meaty for dinner?

That’s what the grill is for. Creating the masterpiece to go beside or under all the fresh takes from the garden or market. Not every recipe is meant to be the main course. Meals need some details to jazz them up, and often the details are what scores with your diners.

Whether placed on top of a rib eye, hamburger or alongside grilled zucchini, caramelized onions add flavor and eye appeal.

Caramelized Balsamic Onions (adapted from The Jimtown Store Cookbook)

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 large or 4 small sweet onions (Vidalia or Walla Walla)

2 Tbsp. Sugar

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

salt and fresh-ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Halve the onions pole-to-pole, and then thinly slice crosswise. Heat a heavy large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil to warm. Add onions and stir to coat with oil. Cover skillet and lower heat a bit; cook onions until they begin to soften and become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, balsamic vinegar and a generous pinch of salt. Cover skillet and continue to cook onions, stirring often to avoid burning, until they’re dark and deeply caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Your plate will be a little empty if all that’s on it is a hamburger dripping with caramelized onions on a bun. A fresh, healthy, and hot-weather-appropriate food will balance the plate well. A new twist is tomato and goat cheese salad. Sisters Grimm in Bushnell sells fresh goat cheese from a local farmer. If you haven’t tried it, summer vegetables and this recipe might temp you. You can use different colored tomatoes to dress up the salad for “fine china” company.

Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Basil (recipe from cookinglight.com)

1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

4 medium heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges (about 2 pounds)

1/3 cup small basil leaves

1.5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chopped basil and tomato wedges; toss to coat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour, tossing occasionally. Top with basil leaves and goat cheese.

 

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