“Yessss.” Longer days are soon at hand. With daylight savings time kicking in this Sunday, followed by spring equinox next weekend, we’re getting all fired up and ready to head to our old pal, the grill. It’s time to dust ‘er off, get her cleaned up, and polish up our favorite pair of tongs. So start watching out for smoke signals, because the onset of longer days and warmer weather means just one thing to grill fans: time to stoke the barbie. Here are the dishes we’re most excited about cooking right now.
When was the last time you made your own Romesco sauce? We’re gonna go out on a limb and guess it’s been too long. If you have jarred roasted red bell peppers, you’re most of the way there. They’re the ideal foil for juicy grilled pork loin chops with green onions. Ideal for an easy weeknight meal, you can even call the grilled green onions and red peppers the “veggie” portion of the meal, serve with crusty bread, and call it a night.
It’s time to commit to buying a passel of fresh or frozen banana leaves from your local Latin American or Asian market. Not only do they make for the best pernil and pulled pork, but you can use them to make beautiful little packets of seafood, too. Banana leaf-grilled fish with coconut-cilantro sauce features classic Thai ingredients like lime juice, coconut milk, garlic, cilantro and mint but also employs jalapeños and honey. The result is an absolute delight when spooned over rice and firm grilled cod, which you’ve cooked in banana leaves.
Pasta Primavera gets a welcome, smoky upgrade in this pasta with grilled vegetables and herbs dish. It’s a five-star dish thanks to plenty of olives, feta and crunchy walnuts wrapped in there—don’t worry; it works!—with sweet grilled bell peppers, zucchini and red onion.
Ten-minute prep time? That’s what we’re talkin’ about, marinated grilled baby leeks. Leeks are a quintessential spring ingredient. You may have seen them all winter long, but look for the young version of the allium at the market this spring. They’re sweeter and tend to be more tender. They’re gorgeous when you drizzle a super-simple mix of Dijon, sherry vinegar and olive oil over them.
Spring on a plate. That’s grilled asparagus and endive with favas, orange and mint for you. Remember, at its best, grilling can be really easy and fast. Think: done in five minutes. Cooking endive, a traditionally somewhat bitter green, softens its pungent top-note. Adding asparagus and fat favas and a sweet orange-and-mint dressing makes this just the thing folks will want to see on the seasonal table.
Maybe you’ve been dropping rice noodles into pho all winter long, and good for you, but now is the season to start employing them in all thdishesngs cold and room-temperature. And thank goodness: Andrea Nguyen, renowned Vietnamese cooking expert, developed a fabulous rice noodle salad bowl with grilled pork recipe. You can make it using a grill or a grill pan. The plush pork shoulder on top of cool noodles plus watermelon radish pickles and nuoc cham? A dream. Don’t be alarmed by the length of the ingredient list; you’ll be spooning that nuoc cham on everything from rice to chicken for the rest of the day, and the pickles keep for up to a month!
We weren’t going to leave you hanging there without a grilled dessert option. Herewith, grilled s’mores doughnuts. We cannot tell a lie: They are exactly as good as they look, as you get to dunk them (!) into molten milk chocolate. Just sit with that thought for a minute. Picture yourself eating these on a patio or in a cool chair with a glass of bubbly and a sweater draped around your shoulders. Welcome, spring.