Backyard Party

When temperatures heat up, vibrant produce, fresh fish and light preparations make for a cool outdoor spread

Recipes & Food Styling By Anna Hampton
Photographs by Helene Dujardin

Chargrilled Corn & Tomato Salad
(Serves 10)

8 ears of corn, shucked
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1½ tsp. salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 avocados
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped (or substitute basil)
2 scallions, chopped
2 Tbsp. cotija cheese, crumbled

  1. Heat grill (or large cast-iron pan) to high heat. Coat the corn in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Grill the corn on all sides until charred in spots, about 11 to 13 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss together the cherry tomatoes, shallot and garlic with red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  3. Allow the corn to cool after cooking, and then cut the kernels off of the cob.
  4. Dice the avocados, and coat with lime juice. In a large bowl, toss together the corn, tomato mixture, avocados and cilantro. Garnish with scallions and cotija cheese.

Try This! For a leafy green salad, simply add arugula.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 197 calories, 11g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 2mg cholesterol, 396mg sodium, 24.5g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 5g sugar, 5g protein

Agua Fresca
(Serves 10)

6 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
1 cup chopped English cucumber
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 cup water
Mint leaves, for garnish
Lime slices, for garnish

  1. In a blender, add the watermelon, cucumber, lime juice and water. Blend until completely smooth. (Work in batches if needed.)
  2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, discarding the solids.
  3. Pour into glasses filled with ice. Garnish with mint and lime slices.

Chef’s Tip: Agua Fresca will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to three days

Nutrition facts (per serving): 31 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 8g carbohydrates, 0.5g fiber, 6g sugar, 0.5g protein

Napa Cabbage & Broccoli Coleslaw
(Serves 10)

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground pepper
1 head Napa cabbage
1 head broccoli
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
Freshly chopped herbs, such as dill or chives (optional)

  1. Whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar to form a dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Thinly slice the Napa cabbage, discarding the tough interior parts. Peel the broccoli stalk with a vegetable peeler. Slice the broccoli in half lengthwise, then thinly slice the halves crosswise. Tender parts of the stalk can be used but discard any tough parts.
  3. Soak the onion slices in water for 2 minutes to remove some of their aftertaste, and then pat dry.
  4. Toss all of the vegetables together in a large bowl with the buttermilk dressing. Stir in herbs for extra flavor. Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Food Fact: Tender Napa cabbage is easier to digest than the conventional red and green varieties.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 103 calories, 8.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 145mg sodium, 6g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 3g sugar, 2g protein

Grilled Fish Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce
(Serves 10)

For the chimichurri sauce:
1 small bunch parsley (about 3/4 cup)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

For the fish skewers:
2 lbs. grouper (or snapper, sea bass or tuna), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 red onions, cut into 1-inch wedges
2 bell peppers, cut into 1-inch slices
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground pepper
Avocado oil spray
Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Roughly chop the parsley. In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, garlic, crushed red pepper and red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk in olive oil until well combined. Set aside the chimichurri sauce.
  3. Thread the fish, onions and peppers alternately onto 10 metal skewers (or use wooden/bamboo skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spray the grill grates and skewers with avocado oil spray. Heat the grill on high (400 to 450°F).
  5. Place the skewers on the preheated grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until fish is cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges and chimichurri sauce on the side.

Chef’s Note: Thanks to a higher smoke point, avocado oil is better than olive oil for a high-heat grill. Spraying the skewers rather than coating them in oil also reduces calories.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 230 calories, 16g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 32mg cholesterol, 301mg sodium, 4.6g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 2g sugar, 18.5g protein