Memorial Day officially begins Friday at 5 p.m., signaling the start of outdoor grilling, eating and entertaining season. Whether it’s at a backyard cookout, family reunion or long-weekend-vacation, food served outdoors just tastes better. Finding the right recipes to celebrate the holiday is second only in importance to a few coveted days off. I’ve included a few of my favorite summer recipes, with an emphasis on quick and easy.
First, every Memorial Day weekend worth its salt includes something … anything … grilled. Besides burgers, hot dogs and ribs, teriyaki steaks are the perfect meat to throw on the grill at some point during the weekend.
It’s hard to find a more versatile, portable and delicious summer side dish than pasta salad. I’m passing only a slightly different recipe from a Gulf Coast friend by way of New Orleans. This weekend is not the time to count carbs, so a shortcut version of stuffed baked potatoes is also included.
As I mentioned recently, I’ve never met a dip or spread that didn’t meet with my approval. I recently found a recipe for a vegetable-centric dip to serve with crudites or chips. Its vibrant green color and tangy taste will enliven any picnic table.
An easy, go-to summer dessert, lemonade pie, can be baked without a lot of fuss when the last-minute decision to fire up the grill and invite the neighbors over is made. It’s as valuable as an invitation to a friend’s beach condo.
Happy Memorial Day!
Marinate a thick cut of sirloin (or your favorite cut) steak for several hours (or shorter if you wait until last minute) in the refrigerator with:
1/2 bottle of teriyaki steak sauce
Juice of 2-3 lemons
Salt and pepper
■ Remove from refrigerator and top with 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Grill or broil to desired level of doneness. Let meat rest before slicing. Recipe doubles easily.
QUICK TWICE-BAKED POTATOES
Bake two large baking potatoes. Scoop out inside, leaving a small border of potato around edges. Add to the potato filling:
Small container of French Onion Dip
1-2 tablespoons of butter
■ Stir well and return to potato skins. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until insides are heated through; don’t overcook. Feel free to add any other favorite toppings (grated cheese, sour cream, bacon, etc.)
BIG EASY SPICY POTATO SALAD
5 pounds baby red potatoes (scrub and rinse well if planning to leave skin on)
¼ cup shrimp and crab boil (dry mix)
1 1/2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 cup white onions, finely grated
1 1/2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
2 cups mayonnaise
½ cup Creole mustard
■ Boil potatoes in large pot of water, adding shrimp and crab boil at the beginning. Boil until potatoes are fork-tender; drain and completely cool.
■ Peel potatoes (or serve with skin on if you prefer), then cut into large chunks. Toss together potatoes, vegetables and seasoning. Last, stir in mayonnaise and mustard. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.
TANGY DIP FOR VEGETABLES OR CHIPS
½ cup fresh parsley
½ cup fresh chives
½ cup fresh tarragon
1 cup sour cream
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
Juice of one lemon, seeds removed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and ground black pepper
½ cup mayonnaise
■ Put first 8 ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Remove all ingredients and place in a large bowl. Stir in mayonnaise until blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
FROZEN LEMONADE PIE
1 (9-inch round) prepared graham cracker crust
1/2 of a package of 8-ounce cream cheese, room temperature
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
6-ounce frozen lemonade concentrate, partially thawed
Zest of a lemon
8-ounce container Cool Whip
■ Mix cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and lemonade concentrate and beat until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in the zest and beat until combined. (Note: a hand-held mixer is best for this recipe).
■ Slowly fold in Cool Whip until fully incorporated. Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and smooth out the top.
■ Freeze for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight, before serving. Store leftover pie in the freezer, cutting slices from slightly thawed pie.
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at [email protected]