- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Memorial Day weekend begins a joyous spree of outdoor grilling and dining that lasts until the first frost. Nothing matches the flavor or the pleasure of a patio or backyard meal shared.

If you think grilling is best suited to larger households, be assured that fire and food are well suited to a household of two.

You’ll find small charcoal-fueled grills and hibachi cooking units in most hardware and cookware stores. Most of these units have enough surface space to accommodate an entree, such as beef or fish steaks, chicken breasts or kabobs. However, I don’t recommend squeezing ears of corn or a couple of baking potatoes onto the grill along with the main course. If your food is crowded, it doesn’t cook properly.

Instead, I suggest making side dishes off the grill. Salads that use beans, vegetables or pasta instead of a base of lettuce or other delicate green can be made in advance and kept at room temperature for 30 minutes. In fact, hearty salads usually taste better if prepared ahead of time so the flavors blend.

Potato salad with chipotle mustard vinaigrette is especially well suited to pair with grilled entrees. The smoky flavor of the chili is a delicious match to a hamburger or skirt steak. The mustard called for in the following recipe is a new product from Robert Rothschild Farm LLC, a condiment company. You should be able to find the mustard in gourmet food stores and better natural food stores.

Butter bean salad is a no-cook combination of canned beans, vegetables and seasonings. It’s wonderful with pork chops or hamburgers.

Butter bean salad

1 15-ounce can butter beans (lima beans), drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 baby red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1 baby yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1 large shallot

½ cup quartered cherry tomatoes

1/16 teaspoon crushed dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper or to taste

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1½ teaspoons white wine vinegar

Place butter beans in a medium-size salad bowl. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet. Add bell peppers and shallot. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add vegetable mixture to beans. Add tomatoes.

In a cup, mix together thyme, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, remaining 1 tablespoon oil and vinegar. Pour over salad. Toss gently but well. Set aside at room temperature for 5 to 30 minutes for flavors to blend.

Makes 2 servings.

Potato salad with chipotle mustard vinaigrette

5 small-medium new potatoes, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces, unpeeled

2 scallions, green parts only, chopped

1 medium celery rib, chopped

4 teaspoons chipotle mustard (see note)

1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar

2½ tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a bowl with scallions and celery.

In a cup, stir together mustard, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes.

Stir gently but well. Makes 2 servings.

Note: If you can’t find chipotle mustard, use a Dijon-style mustard and add a pinch of chipotle chili powder.

Bev Bennett is the author of “30 Minute Meals for Dummies” (John Wiley & Sons).


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