Grillin’ and Chillin’ with Herbs

Craving a fresh and flavorful summer dinner right from the grill? Start with easy to grow herbs! They give your favorite grilling recipes and classic cocktails rich and delicious flavors. Nothing says summertime like a watermelon mojito and mango bruschetta! Or compound butter and herb-infused marinades! Check out our tips and recipes below for a fun, garden-fresh approach to cooking with herbs and veggies.

Handhelds

Bruschetta is an easy crowd-pleaser, and with a dash of mango salsa and lime, you can take this classic Italian favorite and infuse a bit of multi-cultural flavor for a delicious, fresh bite.

Mango & Sweet Basil Bruschetta

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Makes 18-20 pieces

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of French bread

  • A handful of Arugula (preferably home-grown)

  • 8-9 oz of fresh mozzarella, pre-cut or a log if preferred

  • Cherry or grape tomatoes

  • 1 mango

  • Sweet Basil, or Cilantro (for a twist)

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • Salt and Pepper to season

Preparation:

Using a serrated knife, slice the French bread into ½ inch wide slides. Place on a festive plate. Place a small bit of arugula on every piece of bread, or spinach if desired. Thinly slice mozzarella and place two pieces on each piece of bread. Repeat this process with the tomatoes, layering 2-3 pieces per slice. Dice the mango into cubes and scoop a heaping pile atop each slice. Squeeze the juice of 2-3 limes over the bread. Drizzle balsamic as well. Then, garnish with sweet basil or cilantro for a twist. Season with salt and pepper and Cayenne if you’re feeling gutsy. Try adding shallots, chives or jalapeños too! Refrigerate until ready to serve

On the Grill and Marinades

A classic and wonderful trio is rosemary, sage, and thyme. Highly aromatic, these herbs can be used in a marinade to flavor beef, pork, lamb, and fish. The method is very simple: mix oil with herbs and lemon juice, wine or vinegar. Marinate the meat in the liquid until the flavor is absorbed. Or, thread leaves of sage between chunks of beef or lamb in kebobs for an aesthetic, tasty flare.

Adding herbs to grilled shrimp is fast and easy. Simply mix oregano and thyme, either the standard uprights of the English or French variety, with oil and lemon juice. Brush atop the shrimp as they grill for a delicious glaze. Also, the swollen base of Florence fennel (a celery-like vegetable) is fabulous grilled!

Compound Butter

Flavored butters enhance grilled corn and other grilled vegetables and are wonderful on seafood, steaks, and chicken. Dill, parsley, basil, chives and tarragon are very popular in making herb butters. Just combine fresh herbs with softened butter and salt and pepper. Spread some on any of your grilled veggies, meats, fish or bread.

Herb Butter Recipe
  • Makes about 1/2 cup (equivalent of 1 stick)

  • Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mixed herbs (such as basil, thyme, sage, parsley, dill, chives, tarragon, oregano, marjoram or rosemary)

  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well until herbs are evenly distributed. Dump onto a piece of waxed paper or parchment, shape into a cylinder or disk, and seal ends by twisting or packing into a ramekin (however you prefer to store and serve it) and cover it with plastic. Chill in refrigerator until firm, at least an hour. Will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks and in the freezer a few months.

Chilled Out Beverages

Keep cool with beverages flavored with herbs. Use lemon balm or lemon verbena to flavor your water or iced tea. You can also freeze herbs in ice cubes for a colorful and flavorful treat. Borage, especially the blue flowers, and salad burnet are traditionally added to summer drinks. And, for a spirited kick, try this watermelon mojito recipe.

Watermelon Mojitos

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Makes 6-8 drinks, relatively

Ingredients:

  • 2-2 ½ pounds of seedless watermelon (for muddling and garnish)

  • A whole lot of spearmint or mojito mint (both are found at The Growing Place

  • White rum (a pint or a fifth)

  • Juice of 2 limes, cut into finger-sized portions

  • Simple syrup or sugar (a bottle or a bag)

  • 2 liters of soda water

  • Ice

Preparation:

Take your pre-bought watermelon and reserve part of it for scooping and making watermelon balls for the garnish. Take the remainder of your watermelon and cut it into chunks for muddling. Take 3-4 chunks of watermelon and 5-6 leaves of spearmint and put them into the bottom of a Collins or pint glass. Now, add 1 ½ ounces (one shot) of white rum. Muddle the watermelon, mint and white rum – infusing the alcohol lightly. Add 1 ounce of simple syrup, which you can make at home by boiling equals parts sugar and water and then allowing to cool. Or, simply add 2 teaspoons of sugar during the muddling process to grind the sugar down. Then, add ice to the top of the glass. Top the glass off with soda water. Finish with the juice of two limes, drop them in the glass. Add your scooped watermelon ball onto a cocktail skewer and voila! Try making a pitcher at your next party!

By: Lauren Brostowitz

Aurora Location

2000 Montgomery Road,

Aurora, IL 60504

Phone. 630-820-8088

Naperville Location

25w471 Plank Road,

Naperville, IL 60563

Phone. 630-355-4000

Summer Hours

Monday-Friday: 9:00am-6:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am-5:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm 


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