BBQ Season – Recipes!

OK, so it’s a little late, but it is still relevant…

Lots of times during BBQ season people want to make something that they can bring to the BBQ.  My stand-by items are usually something like pasta salad or a dessert.  Pasta salad is great because it’s relatively easy and usually makes a decent amount, plus it’s easy to transport.  And desserts…well there’s never a reason in my book not to make a dessert.

So here are two of my favorite summer-time recipes:  Roasted Vegetable Orzo and Blueberry Lemon Bars

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients
1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4 inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1 inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1 inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1 inch diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (I don’t use this, but you can)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 lb orzo pasta or rice-shaped pasta
For the dressing
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan.
Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender.
Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables.
Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil.
Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

My notes:  I vary the vegetable makeup of this recipe depending on what I have on hand and what’s on sale (just being honest).  I’ve used mushrooms, zucchini, and squash.  You could probably also add sundried tomatoes if you’re a fan (I’m not).  You can also probably reduce the oil in the dressing a bit and still be fine…or maybe sub a little chicken stock (or veggie stock).

Blueberry Lemon Streusel Bars

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
1-1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg, separated
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2-1/2 cups room-temperature blueberries, washed and drained on paper towels

Directions
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the ends. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the foil.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Using your fingers, blend the butter completely into the flour mixture. Transfer 2 cups of crumb mixture to another bowl and reserve for the topping. Blend the egg white into the remaining crumbs and then press the mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a level crust. You can tamp it with the bottom of a measuring cup to even it out. Bake the crust until it starts to form a dry top, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolk. Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes; it will begin to thicken.

Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the hot crust and then drop spoonfuls of the lemon mixture over the blueberries. Spread gently with a spatula to distribute a little more evenly, but take care not to crush the berries; it’s fine if the lemon mixture isn’t perfectly even. Bake until the lemon mixture just begins to form a shiny skin, 7 to 8 minutes.

Sprinkle the reserved topping over the lemon-blueberry layer, pressing the streusel between your fingers into small lumps as you sprinkle. Bake until the filling is bubbling at the edges and the topping is brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack until just warm, about an hour. Carefully lift them out of the pan using the foil overhang and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the foil and cut into 24 bars when cool. The bars may be stored at room temperature for a few hours but otherwise should be kept in the refrigerator.

My notes:  This is one of my FAVORITE recipes ever.  If you make it, please let me know what you think.  Since baking is more sensitive than cooking, I don’t make any substituions but I suppose you could use a different berry in place of the blueberries if you desired.  I cut them in to pretty small pieces because they’re very indulgent.

Feel free to comment if you try either of these.  Yum!!

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