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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Morrison

Grilling fun with friends, family, and neighbors

I love this time of year when the weather is getting warmer and the sun shines a little brighter. I spend the weekends laughing with friends, family, and neighbors. Where there is laughter, there is usually a hot pit nearby grilling up a feast.

While a gas grill is easier to regulate, a charcoal grill gives more room to play with the flavor of the meal.

Grilling is an easy way to feed a crowd. When next door at the Niles house, everyone takes a turn at the pit. All are welcome to bring whatever they want to contribute to the day. If it is steak, chicken, shrimp, or hot dogs, it is going on the grate.

As long as you have a reliable heat source and know the internal temperature for doneness, you will have a winning grilling party. I primarily grill with a gas grill at home. Ryan Niles uses charcoal grills. While a gas grill is easier to regulate, a charcoal grill gives more room to play with the flavor of the meal.

I sometimes use a meat thermometer to measure doneness. For steaks and pork, I like to start with the meat at room temperature so it cooks faster and more evenly. When grilling steak, I like the center at 135 for a perfect medium-rare. For pork, I go to 145 in the center of the chop. For poultry to be done it needs to register between 160 and 165 degrees. And I cook shrimp until they curl and become firm.

Since I am the side dish queen around here, I enjoy bringing vegetables next door. Vegetables over a fire cook fast. I use a vegetable grilling pan or smaller grate to make sure my efforts don’t slip down into the fire. The mix of colors builds a stunning tray. You can serve a grilled vegetable platter chilled or straight off the pit. I use an assortment of grilled vegetables to ensure that everyone has at least one veggie on the tray that they love. Serve this one and be prepared to share your new recipe. It is a crowd favorite.

Grilled Vegetable Platter

1 medium red onion

1-pint grape tomatoes

1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise

1 large yellow summer squash, sliced lengthwise

2 Portobello mushroom caps wiped clean

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. salt

2 tsp. black pepper

2 tsp. garlic powder

Dressing and garnish

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup sliced basil leaves

½ cup crumbled feta

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Coat vegetables lightly with olive oil. Drizzle on more olive oil if needed. Mix together salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Rub or toss the seasoning mix on the vegetables. Grill onions, bell pepper, and grape tomatoes on a vegetable grilling pan or in a grill basket. Mushroom caps asparagus, zucchini, and summer squash can go directly on the grate. Grill onions and bell peppers until tender stirring or flipping occasionally. Grill mushroom caps for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Grill asparagus until it turns a bright green and is slightly tender. Grill grape tomatoes just until the skin begins to pop. Grill zucchini and summer squash until tender flipping once during cook time. Remove the vegetables from the heat. Slice zucchini, yellow squash, and mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Arrange all vegetables on a platter. Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pour dressing over the grilled vegetables. Sprinkle feta and basil over vegetables for garnish.

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