The Yankee Chef: A summer meal with a twist — no burgers, no dogs and a healthy salad

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We're all in outdoor cooking and dining mode. Switch out hamburgers and hot dogs for chicken wings — barbecued or Buffalo-style, or both! — and serve them alongside a quinoa salad, a great gluten-free substitute for the usual pasta salad everyone craves during summer months. For dessert, grill nectarines or peaches on the grill, fill the holes left by the pit with a honey-yogurt filling and top with raspberries. What could be easier?

There are so many ways to prepare these chicken wings with each having their own unique quality, it is difficult to choose. But because I am partial to the smoky flavor of outdoor grilling, I must offer you chicken wings with a slightly blackened texture and an intense flavor and aroma that will surely be a favorite wing recipe for the summer. See note below for alternative preparations.

Intense barbecued chicken wings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds chicken wings

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup rice vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons gochujang (chili bean paste)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon each dried ginger and black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat outdoor grill to a low setting. Place wings over indirect heat, close lid and cook until completely cooked through, turning frequently to evenly cook.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce by whisking remaining ingredients well. When wings are ready, open lid and move them over direct heat. Start slathering sauce over each wing. With the lid open, cook wings until starting to caramelize, turning each over and brushing sauce over the other side. Continue until each wing is crispy and darkened. Remove to enjoy hot with any remaining sauce heated and served alongside for extra dipping if desired.

Note: Prepare these wings the way many restaurants serve ... Buffalo style. Deep fry wings until cooked through and crispy. Remove to drain well and toss with the sauce that has been heated. If using an oven, simply marinade the wings in sauce for a couple hours before transferring to sheet pan lined with foil and bake for about 30 minutes at 400-degrees F

One of the few plants that contain all nine amino acids, quinoa (yes, it is still pronounced keenwa). Using this "mother of all grains" with a ton of vegetables and juice is exactly what your body needs.

Picnic rainbow quinoa salad

INGREDIENTS:

1 large red bell pepper

1 large yellow bell pepper

1 cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained, reserving oil

2 cups white or red quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 cups each orange and apple juice

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1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Cracked black pepper to taste

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and finely diced

1/2 cup crushed nuts of your choice, toasted if desired

1/4 cup dried blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Halve, seed, remove white pith and dice peppers; set aside. Bring to scalding a tablespoon of the reserved olive oil over medium high heat in a medium saucepan. When hot, add quinoa and cook, while stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add diced peppers, cooking and stirring an additional 3 minutes.

Add both juices, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 16-18 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove cover and transfer to a large bowl to cool, fluffing to separate.

In a separate bowl, whisk remaining oil with the vinegar, hot sauce, basil and black pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture, top with diced cucumber, nuts, dried blueberries and tomatoes. Toss to combine well and serve room temperature or cover to chill before serving with your favorite shaved cold protein.

Melba classically uses peaches, but nectarines are almost the same fruit. The difference between the two? Fuzzy skin! Many authorities will have you believe that the nectarine is slightly firmer and sweeter, but this is untrue. Just be sure, when choosing either, that they have just a little give.

Grilled nectarine melba

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (1/2 pint) fresh raspberries

1 teaspoon sugar

2 nectarines, halved and pitted *

Nonstick cooking spray

1 (6-ounce) container Greek or plain yogurt

1 tablespoon honey, agave nectar or maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:

Sprinkle raspberries with sugar, mash slightly and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat your grill. Spray the cut halves of nectarines with nonstick cooking spray. Place nectarines, cut-side down, directly on the hot grates of your grill. Close lid and cook 3-5 minutes, or until starting to soften and grill marks are showing. You may need to move, or turn, the nectarines a couple of times to prevent over scorching, although nice dark lines are desired.

Flip each nectarine half over, move to the cooler part of the grill, over indirect flame, and continue cooking an additional 3-5 minutes, or until tender to the touch. Remove from grill onto a platter while preparing rest of recipe.

In a bowl, whisk yogurt with honey. Mash the raspberries to desired consistency. Dollop equal amounts into each "pit-hole" of the nectarines, topped with macerated raspberries. Serve while warm.

* If the nectarines have any give to them, then the seed is easily scooped out with a spoon. If they are still firm, then they may be slightly harder to pit. Once pitted, scoop out surrounding, red flesh to create more of a pocket for the filling.


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