What a year and time to celebrate! We can all use the fun, and with the distance required between us, celebrating Independence Day - the 4th of July - this year may mean a lot of unfamiliar territory. Barbeques with your quarantine pod can be a great way to connect with friends and family because you will be outdoors. If you are staying distanced, or find yourself far away, you may not be able to meet with all of your family and friends. This doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great time.
New technological possibilities, like being able to have parties on Zoom and Skype, have become great solutions to make your celebrations just as festive this year. If a socially distanced picnic is in your cards, we are offering some tips below on how to make that happen. No matter how you plan to do July 4th this year, good food, wine and cocktails should help us all remember how important our Independence is and how great our country can be!
As the USA’s biggest outdoor cooking holiday, there is a bit of mixed history about why it is such a big holiday for barbecuing. According to food historians, political leaders were staging rallies to support Independence Day and used roasted pigs or oxen as a way to draw the crowds out. This morphed from a public gathering to a family event (thankfully for us this year) pre-World War II as the newly popularized charcoal grill became a possible household option. The commercialization of the holiday served many meat companies and producers so there was a big push from these companies to be sure that all families were buying their products. As a nation of immigrants, we celebrated with meats like frankfurters, wieners and hamburgers - and today these meats along with steaks have become an integral part of every July 4th party.
If you are fully socially quarantining, one great idea is to arrange a picnic basket swap with some friends where each of you is in charge of making a few dishes and you share them with each other through a swap. You can each sign onto Zoom at your set time and eat “together”.
If one person takes on the organizer role, you can send around a sign up, and based on the number of people, you will divide the responsibilities, just like in a potluck party. Your new, virtual potluck party should of course be prepared with all safety precautions in mind!
If you are doing an in-person, small barbeque, keep the menu focused on what the guests are interested in eating and drinking so that you don’t end up sweating over the grill for hours with too many leftovers for the smaller-than-normal crowd.
Take this as an opportunity to experiment and learn new BBQ techniques that will take your celebration to the next level.
Whether you are a born carnivore, or a vegetarian or vegan eater, there are so many fantastic vegetable options that you can barbeque besides the expected burgers and hot dogs. We collected some suggestions for non-meat options that maybe you didn’t know you could throw on the barbie.
- Lettuce - Iceberg wedges with some olive oil and dressing on top make the world’s most deliciously simple grilled salad
- Kale - see the recipe idea below from our Delicious expert, Kevin Fink
- Rainbow skewers - imagine gorgeous rainbow vegetable options like red cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, orange carrots, purple (red) onion or purple eggplant, blue yams
- Avocado - cut them in half and stick them straight on the grill. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and some chopped cilantro for a healthy and summery snack or side dish.
- Peaches, pineapples, bananas - oh my! Your apple pie can even be elevated by using grilled apples and top them with ice cream and chocolate syrup.
- ½ cup pecans
- ½ pound Tuscan kale, stemmed
- 1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 3 marinated white anchovy fillets
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove
- ¼ cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus shaved pecorino for serving
- Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for 7 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
Set up an ice bath. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the kale until barely tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; transfer to the ice bath. Drain again and pat dry.
Light a grill and oil the grate. Spread the kale on the grate and grill over high heat, turning occasionally, until charred in spots, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop. In a blender, combine the kale with the anchovies, lemon juice, garlic, half of the toasted pecans and the 1/4 cup of pecorino. With the machine on, gradually add the 1 1/2 cups of olive oil and puree until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper.
The pesto can be an excellent topping to grilled fish, grilled meats, or pasta.
Recipe by Kevin Fink, adapted from Food & Wine.