I don’t know about you, but when my friends invite my husband, my two daughters ages 3 and 1 and myself over for a summer barbeque, I shudder violently. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love barbeques. There is something magical about a warm summer afternoon with friends and good, fresh food. The problem is the reality of my daughters covered head to toe in sticky, gooey barbeque sauce, coleslaw, potato salad and juice, then running around like invitations for West Nile Virus! I thought it was high time someone took a stand against sugary sauces and tired, mayonaise based dishes to ring in a fresh, new way to grill.
1. Grill Your Veggies: Its quick, easy and delicious finger food in a flash. Take zucchini and squash, cut them long ways and place them face down on the grill for 4-6 minutes, moving once or twice. For white potatoes or sweet potatoes you can either grill them face down for about 10 minutes, or chop coursely and put them on a steam basket made for grills, turning occassionally while you cook your meat.
2. BBQ Rub: Often underestimated in it’s deliciousness, barbeque rub is a much neater, finger-food friendly version of barbeque. Instead of sugary, sticky sauce you just cover your meat in the rub and grill away. There are many different kinds of rubs: very spicy, sweet, mild, ethnic; just peruse your local grocery store or make your own. A basic rub (Memphis style, unsweetened) as told to me by my brother is 1/4 cup paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons onion powder, 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon cayanne pepper; combine all ingredients in a jar and mix well. Cover meat with rub and let sit until rub appears moist. Some variations: Add mustard powder and more cayanne for more fire, add some chili powder and cocoa powder for a mexican grill taste or add some sugar for a spicy-sweet taste. The internet has plently of options for recipe variations.
3. Dipped Coleslaw: You can julienne chop your finger-friendly vegetables (make them like matchsticks with your mandoline or by hand) like carrots, zucchini, squash, jicima or bell peppers and serve them with some coleslaw sauce to dip them into. I would rather wipe up a dollop of sauce from my 15-month old’s lap than spend 10 minutes picking coleslaw out of her hair, clothes, diaper and surroundings.
These three ideas are easy to do, easy to clean up and delicious to eat. When we barbeque now, I can rest assured that there will be healthy food, good fun and a quick and easy clean up.