For fast, convenient, healthy and nutritious eating, you can’t beat a good grill. For obvious reasons, grilling is healthier than frying, the main reason being that the excess oils and fats drop off the food as it cooks. From the point of view of flavour though, I can honestly say I have never thought that grilled food is any less flavoursome than fried, although this could be in part to the marinating process used before grilling.
Marinating food is such a great way to seal in the flavour of the herbs and spices, and basting the food as it cooks also helps to lock in the flavours. The following dishes were created for a barbecue I fired up at the weekend whilst desperately trying to catch the last of the summer rays.
Portobello mushrooms with herbed goat’s cheese. So incredibly simple. Firstly wipe the mushrooms with some kitchen paper to remove any dirt, then remove the stalk of the mushroom so you have just the head remaining. Finely chop a handful of herbs; I used purple sage, thyme and oregano. If using soft goat’s cheese with no rind, you can mix the herbs in with the cheese and spread it in to the upturned mushroom. If using a cheese with rind, you can simply slice it thinly and layer on to the upturned mushroom. Wrap the mushrooms in foil and grill on a fairly gentle heat at first for 15 minutes as this helps release the robust flavours of the mushrooms, then finish with a blast of high heat for two minutes or until the cheese melts.
Lemon, pepper and coriander chicken. Again this is so easy to prepare yet so delicious. The bit that takes time is the marinating, but of course you can be doing other things in the mean time, such as having a massage! Take 2 chicken breasts and grind coriander seeds and black pepper over them, then squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them before dousing in a tablespoon of good EV Olive Oil. Give them a good turn so they are drenched in all the flavours and marinate in a refrigerator for at least two hours. Grill on a medium heat for at least ten minutes, making sure they’re cooked through before serving.
Salmon fillets with treacle sesame lime marinade. On this occasion, rather than using steaks, I used thick salmon fillets which actually worked very well. As with most seafood the trick is not to let it cook too long or else it will dry out. To make the marinade, finely chop 1 tsp of root ginger, a good sized red chilli and a clove of garlic. Add this to 1 tbsp of sesame oil, 2 tbsps of sunflower oil, 1 tbsp of black treacle and the freshly squeezed juice of a lime. Mix it together and marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Place the fillets skin side down on a hot grill and baste the flesh side as it cooks for 3 – 4 minutes until the underside has crisped. Flip them over and let the flesh side cook for just 30 seconds or so, just to capture the flavour of the smoke.
If you want to throw rosemary and / or lemon zest on the coals you can do as this creates some wonderful aromas. Happy grilling!
Philip King is a food writer, food and travel photographer and luxury event organiser
Picture credits: Philip King