- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What I love about summer meals is that they are grilled. Sure, we are grilling more year-round, but when the weather is warm, we might grill every night. With the array of fish, vegetables, chicken and steaks in the market, it’s easy to come up with something different to toss on the grill.

What I also love about the grill is that I don’t do the cooking; my husband does. I can prep the fish, marinate the chicken, plan the meal, but he is out there with tools in hand, battling the flames, sipping something cool and enjoying the time by himself.

Some of our favorite flavors for summer dinners are Indian. For example, we might grill chicken with tandoori seasonings (from the jar), add a salad of sliced cucumbers and fresh tomatoes from the garden, serve flatbread for sopping up the chicken juices, and finish with a fresh peach tart for dessert.

My husband will battle mosquitoes, not to mention the heat and the open fire, just for a bite of this memorable tart. For fun, substitute 1 cup of fresh blueberries for 1 cup of the peaches, or sprinkle a handful of finely chopped pecans on top of the tart before baking.

Time-shaving grilling tips:

• Slice fish and steaks into smaller portions for faster cooking.

• Pound out chicken before marinating and grilling so that it cooks quickly.

• Cube meat or chicken and thread on a skewer for fast kebabs.

• Add slices of vegetables, such as zucchini and eggplant, to the grill while you are grilling meat, fish or chicken. Season with a little salt, pepper and olive oil.

• Plan grilled-overs. Grill more than enough chicken for one meal, then serve the rest the next night over a Caesar salad.

Grill-night menu: grilled chicken tandoori, cucumber raita, couscous or basmati rice, pitas, black olives and crumbled feta cheese, and fresh peach tart

Grilled chicken tandoori with raita

The preparation time is 5 minutes, the marinating time is 1 hour, and the cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 pound), rinsed and patted dry

1½ cups plain low-fat yogurt, divided

½ cup tandoori paste

½ cup chopped peeled cucumber

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, optional

Salt and pepper

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Mango chutney and pitas

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of waxed paper on a work surface and pound them to ½-inch thickness with a meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Score them gently with a knife in several places.

Place the chicken in a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag with ½ cup of the yogurt and the tandoori paste. Seal the bag, then massage it with your fingertips so that the yogurt and tandoori paste combine and the chicken is well-coated. Place bag in the refrigerator, and let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour, as long as 24 hours.

Meanwhile, make the raita: Place remaining 1 cup of yogurt and the cucumber, onion and mint (if using) in a small glass bowl.

Stir to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the raita until serving time. It will keep for up to 24 hours.

Heat the grill to medium-high, remove chicken from bag, and shake off some of the excess marinade.

Place chicken on hot grill, searing the first side for 2 minutes. Turn chicken over; sear the second side for 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, then cover the grill and cook chicken until juices run clear when a breast is pricked with the tip of a sharp knife, 6 to 8 minutes.

Slice chicken into strips and garnish it with cilantro sprigs. Serve chicken with raita, mango chutney and pita bread. Makes 4 servings.

Fresh peach tart

The preparation time is 15 minutes, and the baking time is 28 to 32 minutes.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough (half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed for 20 minutes

2 cups sliced peaches (from 6 to 8 medium-size peaches)

1/3 cup sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

2 tablespoons butter, optional

Vanilla ice cream or heavy whipping cream, for serving

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place puff pastry sheet on an ungreased baking sheet and set aside.

Peel and slice peaches. Place sliced peaches; all sugar except 1 tablespoon; and cinnamon, if using, in a small bowl. Stir to combine.

Spoon peaches into center of puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around edges.

Dot top of peaches with butter, if using. Gently fold edges of puff pastry up around the peaches. Sprinkle pastry and peaches with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake tart until pastry puffs up around edges and is well-browned, 28 to 32 minutes. Remove tart from oven, and let it cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Slice tart into rectangular pieces.

Serve tart in shallow bowls, topped with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of whipping cream. Store this tart lightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 4 days. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


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