If, by the end of August, 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, firing up the grill may be the least of your problems; this might just be the time to fire up your imagination instead.
Before there are great recipes, there are great ideas.
Personally, I think formal recipes, especially ones used to prepare what should otherwise be quick, light, summer dishes, kind of miss the point of spontaneously enjoying the summer and summer grilling.
In my mind, summer should be easy-going, stress free, and as fun as possible.
Learning a new recipe just seems like work, especially 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!
It’s like falling in love with grilling all over again.
Conceptual recipes are meant to stir an idea in your head or perhaps remind you of some flavors you might really have always loved, but somehow over time, have lost touch with.
Conceptual recipes can also be prepared in a completely different and new way, sometimes bringing one ingredient forward that is otherwise lost in a similar dish.
It’s a way to fall in love with your favorite recipe all over again.
We have a few recipes on our website that utilize this idea. One, our Barbecue Pork and Spinach Salad, creates the flavor of barbecue in a salad. 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–the 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.
If you like it, you can name it something all your own, but for now, I’ll call it Shrimp Taco Salad.
For each person, you will need:
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/cream-like consistency.
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Roma tomato, sliced in ¼” discs
Crisp corn tortillas (chips or thin strips)
Canned black beans (rinsed)
Cilantro, rough-chopped or small sprigs
Spray the grill lightly with vegetable oil, and grill the seasoned shrimp on both sides for only a couple minutes.
Then build your plate like this:
Nest a mound of finely shredded lettuce 2” x 6” across the middle of the plate.
Shingle 4 to 5 slices of Roma tomato on top of the lettuce.
Nest a layer of tortilla chips or strips on top of the tomato slices.
Place the freshly cooked shrimp (still hot) on the tortilla chips.
Pour a pool of the “guacamole crème” around the “shrimp island,” and finally, garnish with black beans, some diced tomatoes, and cilantro.
This dish could work equally well with 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 they’re used in a slightly different way. Feel free to add other ingredients too, such as black bean & corn salsa, sour cream, green onions, or our Chipotle Ranch Dressing.
All are 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 a fun and great Labor Day weekend!