Chef and sustainable seafood advocate Barton Seaver once told me he tells parents to “sell the side” when it comes to getting kids to eat more seafood. And I couldn’t agree more … so if you’re trying to get more seafood into your family’s diet, try accessorizing your main dish with something everyone already loves.
Seafood School Lesson #2: Accessorize. Embellish. Adore!
And when the fam asks “What’s for dinner?” instead of focusing on the seafood itself, talk up the sides and be sure to choose something everyone loves like scalloped potatoes, fettuccine alfredo, teriyaki rice, french fries … etc. And before you know it, you’re sure to make a winner winner seafood dinner everyone will love. My favorite summertime sides to serve with seafood: Caprese salad, ice-chest corn on the cob, grilled asparagus, Caribbean-style beans
Don’t forget about the classic summer sides: potato salads, pasta salads, fresh fruit, coleslaw … all these go great with seafood too!
Little known fact, I grew up eating tomatoes for breakfast. We would slice them thick, sprinkle a little sugar on them and devour them on the daily in the summer. Nowadays, I don’t eat them with sugar, but I do eat them whole like most people would eat an apple. Of course when serving as a side, I don’t serve them whole. Sometimes I slice them and do a basic caprese salad, and sometimes, I grill them right alongside whatever kind of seafood we’re having. Here’s how to grill tomatoes:
1 cup grated or shaved Parmesan
Cut tomatoes into thick slices. Place them on a large piece of tinfoil—large enough you can fold it closed. Drizzle with olive oil. Add some salt and pepper. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan. Fold the tinfoil closed on all sides, place directly on grill when your fish has 10 minutes left. And that’s it. Enjoy!
ICE-CHEST CORN ON THE COBB
A super easy and mess-free way to serve farm-fresh corn on the cobb this summer … place how ever many ears you want to cook directly into an ice chest or cooler. Boil water—about one to two gallons depending on the size of your cooler. Once water is boiling, dump directly over the corn, it does not need to cover it. The corn cooks from the steam, not the boiling water. Close the cooler and you’re done. It will stay perfect for up to an hour and only takes 10 minutes to steam.
Sure, you can make these as a main course, but they’re perfect as a side AND yes, you can and should cook them on the grill. Here’s how:
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 stalks celery
2 tablespoons pine nuts
¼ cup fresh parsley
1 cup Parmesan
This part you need to do inside, but you can do it days before and refrigerate until your ready to use. Sauté celery, mushrooms, garlic in a touch of olive oil for 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and use a large spoon to kind of “push” the extra liquid from the pan and strain the mixture. Put it in a large bowl, add pine nuts, parsley and Parmesan, mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Brush peppers with a touch of olive oil. Place on tin foil and grill, with lid closed on medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from grill and stuff peppers with spinach mixture. Place back on grill and cook for about 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with a little more cheese if you want. Done!
There’s nothing to grilling veggies: you pick the vegetables you want to grill, marinate them, and grill for about 15 minutes. Here’s how I do it:
2-3 bell peppers of any color
2 yellow squash
12-15 button mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup orange juice
Cut vegetables into desired sizes. Place in gallon-size plastic bag with orange juice and garlic. Shake to cover the vegetables. Place on one side in the fridge, then after 20-30 minutes, turn it over so all the veggies get equally marinated. When your ready to cook, place them directly on grill, drizzle extra marinade over them and grill for about 15 minutes, flipping once. Note, you can also use a grill basket. And yes, you can even throw in a few slices of steak too!!
The best way to grill asparagus, is to blanch it first. I put the asparagus in a large strainer and dump boiling water directly over it. Then I refrigerate until it’s time to grill.
Place asparagus directly on grill, turning once or twice, cook for 5 minutes. Serve with hollandaise (if you want) or just a little lemon juice, salt and pepper.
PORTOBELLAS AND WHOLE GARLIC
For the garlic, slice the top off the heads, place on tinfoil and wrap up with olive oil. That’s it! Place directly on grill and let sizzle away for about 30 minutes.
For the mushrooms, either keep the portobellas whole, or slice them into one-inch thick pieces. Make you wash them first! Brush with olive oil and grill “top side” down for 10 minutes.
So this one, you’ll need to do inside unless you have a side burner attached to your grill. But, I promise, its well-worth the dirty dish! And you can thank Love the Wild for the delicious recipe … head on over to their website to learn more about the prepackaged deliciousness they’re delivering to stores near you!
A note about my recipes … most of what I cook isn’t a precise science. It’s look, taste and feel. And I encourage you to cook the same way. Add a little more of this, or a little less of that … and pay attention … and before long you’ll be a wiz at cooking seafood.
Coming up next week on the blog … tips for purchasing salmon to cook at home—stay tuned as I continue to post daily lessons over the next few weeks where you’ll learn about a variety of seafood and some great cooking methods that will turn you into a seafood wizard-chef in no time.
Want more from The Midwest Mermaid? Be sure to follow along here, and on Instagram for all the latest in seafood news and chews @shaunanosler
DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then. xoxox