Simple BBQ Menu ideas
Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay team up again to host the 12th season of “Food Network Star” returning May 22.(Eddy Chen/Food Network)
It’s almost summertime and the cookin’ is easy.
Or so it should be. This Memorial Day, make your BBQ spread look and taste great, without breaking a sweat.
Just ask celeb chef Giada De Laurentiis, who recommends keeping summer meals simple by prepping as much as possible ahead of time, and setting a simple, uncluttered table. For decoration, she likes alternating pretty cups of fresh herbs and unscented tea candles on her table.
“During the summer, people are more amped to have fun and enjoy each other and entertain because it is warm and everything is blooming, ” says De Laurentiis, who returns, along with Bobby Flay, as a judge on “Food Network Star” Season 12 on Sunday, May 22 at 9 p.m.
“People gravitate to being together and being outside, ” she adds. “It is much easier, and you don’t have to do as much cooking.”
Healthy finger foods, perfect for kids running around outside, such as tomatoes, berries and corn, are at their peak in summer. Flay is anxiously awaiting summer crops.
“The spring thing is just a tease, ” he said of asparagus, peas and fava beans. “Summer ingredients are much more versatile and make people smile so much more.”
Besides cooking in his restaurants, Flay says he can spend up to 10 hours a day during summer in his Amagansett, Long Island kitchen cooking for family and friends.
“And I love it, ” Flay said. “Summer ingredients are about lightening things up and it’s a really good place to eat more healthfully.”
Both chefs stress making things easy in the hotter months. De Laurentiis makes a skirt steak with a pistachio gremolata condiment that can be made a day or two before. Both recommend grilling, even salads, such as De Laurentiis’ Grilled Caprese Salad.
“By grilling tomatoes, it intensifies the sweetness, ” she says. “All the sugar comes to the surface and when you put the mozzarella on top, it really melts it, and you have recreated a salad everyone knows so well.”
Flay, a master griller, advises that novice grillers making his fish tacos start with a fish steak, such as swordfish or tuna “to help you achieve success.”
That’s because fish steaks are thicker, meatier and easier to work with than a thinner, lighter fish like halibut or flounder which tend to flake and fall apart.
Flay also whips up pitchers of watermelon cocktails. And what screams summer fun more than tequila and watermelon?
In the season opener of “Food Network Star, ” Valerie Bertinelli and Food Network host Tyler Florence guest judge. Flay was even more excited about Bertinelli’s appearance than summer vegetables.