When Grilling Stops Being Thrilling…Then What?

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If, by the end of July, you’ve had your “fill of the grill”…

If your definition of the “Dog Days of Summer” is the time when you’ve finally become sick of hot dogs…

If the time you spend endlessly making trips between your refrigerator and your backyard grill has become known as “Burgatory”…

Then you just might want to forget about the charcoal. This might just be the time to fire up your imagination instead.

Before there are great recipes, there are great concepts.

The word “concept” is intentional–and fun. Personally, I think “recipes,” especially those used to prepare quick summer dishes, kind of miss the point of enjoying the summer.

In my mind, summer should be easygoing, stress-free and as fun as possible.

Learning a new “recipe” just seems like work when I’d rather be having fun. On top of that, most people pretty much tweak the recipes anyway, so it kind of defeats the purpose of writing or explaining many of them.

My thinking? Just grab onto the “idea,” make it your own and run with it!

Like falling in love all over again…

Conceptual recipes are meant to “stir” an idea in your head or perhaps remind you of some flavors you might have always loved but somehow, over time, lost touch with.

Conceptual recipes can help you get “re-connected” or can re-introduce you to recipes or flavors you already like that are now arranged and prepared in a completely different and new way, sometimes bringing one ingredient forward that is usually just part of the “supporting cast.”

It’s like falling in love with a favorite dish all over again.

We have a few recipes on our website that use this idea. One, our Barbecue Pork and Spinach Salad, creates the flavor of barbecue in a salad, and I’ve just recently blogged about how to use flour tortillas in dishes other than enchiladas and quesadillas, which will once again demonstrate that same idea.

Speaking of enchiladas and quesadillas, I’d like to share with you a “conceptual idea” for just such a dish. It is also a somewhat “re-constructed” version of a Tex-Mex favorite– specifically, a taco.

Like a taco, it can be especially fun if you pair both hot (in this case shrimp) and cold ingredients together in the same dish.

A conceptual recipe to liven up the Dog Days of Summer

If you like it, you name it! For now, I’ll call it Shrimp With No Name.

For each person you will need the following:

  • 3 to 5 extra-large shrimp seasoned with cumin, garlic and chili powder
  • Guacamole (any decent recipe) BUT pureed with a bit of sour cream and milk to make into a soup-like consistency
  • Iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • Roma tomato, sliced in ¼” disks
  • Crisp corn tortillas (chips or thin strips)
  • Canned black beans (rinsed)
  • Cilantro, rough chopped or small sprigs

After seasoning the shrimp, spray lightly with vegetable oil, and either grill or sauté until JUST cooked.

Build your plate like this and capture the image in your “mind’s eye”…

 

…failing that, we have a picture.

shrimp salad

  1. Nest a mound of finely shredded lettuce 2” x 6” across the middle of the plate.
  2. Shingle 4 to 5 slices of Roma tomato on top of the lettuce
  3. Nest a layer of tortilla chips or strips on top of the tomato slices.
  4. Place the freshly cooked shrimp (still hot) on the tortilla chips.
  5. Pour a pool of the “guacamole” crème around the “shrimp island,” and finally, garnish with black beans, some diced tomato and cilantro.

This dish could work equally well with sliced grilled chicken or steak. At the end of the day, what you have is a re-constructed taco, with many of the familiar ingredients and flavors, except used in a slightly different way. Feel free to add other ingredients too, such as Nino’s Santa Fe Style Black Bean & Corn Salsa, Sour Cream, and Green Onions, or try our Chipotle Ranch Dressing–all great ideas to build on!

I hope you enjoy this new idea and that it inspires you to look at other dishes you enjoy.

Have fun, and have a GREAT summer!