So you’re looking to bulk up your summer social life, but maybe you’re not getting as many invites to parties as you want. Do you have bad breath? Maybe it’s awkward social skills. Or maybe it’s because you show up to things empty-handed all the time and your friends think you’re a selfish jerk.
With summer in full swing, barbecue parties provide an ample opportunity to earn some brownie points with your friends by showcasing your culinary prowess. But you don’t need to be the next Gordon Ramsay to pull off these next recipes; just toss a few simple ingredients together and reap the rewards.
Everyone loves a good salsa, but people rely on the store-bought alternatives far too often. This recipe for BBQ-charred tomato salsa is unconventional, easy to make and perfect for hot summer days. Here’s what you’ll need:
8-10 large tomatoes, whole
1/2 large onion (Spanish or Vidalia), cut into thick wedges
2–3 jalapeno peppers, whole
2 cloves fresh garlic
Juice of half an orange
Salt to taste
Begin by cranking up your BBQ to high heat. Toss the tomatoes, onions and jalapenos directly on the grill until they begin to char and blacken; more is better, so at least six minutes. Remove them to a blender or food processor, and add the remaining ingredients. Puree until chunky and adjust the salt to taste. Cool in the icebox before serving with tortilla chips. The end result is a uniquely smoky salsa that’s made peppery by the cilantro and a little snappy by the orange juice.
To match this salsa, you’ll need an equally delectable guacamole. Some grocery store guacs are made with artificial fillers instead of actual avocados, so steer clear of that whole nonsense and make it from scratch instead. Along with the above salsa, this goes great with tortilla chips and fresh veggies.
3 ripe avocados
1/3 cup freshly chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
1/3 cup red onion, diced
½ cup tomato, diced
1/3 cup mango, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Mash all of the ingredients together or serve it chunky and rustic for some textural interest.
For something with a bit of substance, you’ll need to add a dinnertime item into the equation. A great option for the summer is fish, especially on a hot day. Try grilling some fresh halibut steaks and then topping them with cilantro pesto. Halibut is the perfect fish for grilling, and the pesto is easier than it sounds. Here’s what it takes:
4 6-oz. halibut steaks
½ cup almonds
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves fresh garlic
Juice of half a lemon
½ cup olive oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
To blend up the pesto, you’ll need a food processor or blender. Begin by pureeing the almond and garlic with a bit of the oil until smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese and puree further. Continue by gradually adding the cilantro and remaining olive oil, alternating the two while the processor runs. Add the oil slowly so it emulsifies. Finish with the squeeze of lemon juice, and a bit of salt and pepper. The end result is a tasty, intensely green sauce packed with flavour. It’s perfect on top of anything, but especially grilled halibut.
For the halibut, start with a hot grill lubed up with a bit of canola oil to prevent sticking. Season the halibut with salt and pepper. A one-inch-thick steak should cook up in about 10 minutes, but the key is to look for opaque colouring and flaky texture throughout. If all else fails, use a meat thermometer and cook until the internal temperature hits 145 F. Don’t forget to flip it over at the halfway mark, and rotate it 45 degrees after the first few minutes to get the perfect grill marks. Your halibut will end up looking like it came from a Red Lobster commercial.
With these easy recipes under your belt, you’re sure to be the hit of every party this summer. But if that doesn’t fix things, then maybe it was just the bad breath after all.