Creative al fresco recipes

Eating outdoors can be one of the true pleasures of life. Whether in your backyard, on the beach, or in a park, make any outdoor cookout a delicious success that the whole family will enjoy with these creative al fresco recipes.

Turkey Meatball Skewers with Cinnamon, Coriander, and Cumin

Fragrant flavors of cinnamon, coriander, and cumin lend a warm spiciness to these meatball skewers made from ground turkey.

12 oz (340 g) ground turkey thigh meat

1 shallot, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon

1/2 tsp (2 mL) coriander

1/2 tsp (2 mL) cumin

2 Tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped parsley

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 Tbsp (45 mL) ground rolled oats (or breadcrumbs)

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

In medium-sized bowl, combine all ingredients with fork. Using a tablespoon measure, or a melon baller or cookie scoop of same size, scoop and roll mixture into balls. Refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 4 hours.

Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking. When ready to grill, place 4 balls on each of 6 moistened wooden skewers. Wipe any excess turkey from tip of the skewer with a small piece of kitchen roll or clean cloth. Grill skewers on grill preheated to 350 F (180 C), with lid closed, for approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 F (75 C). Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Each serving contains: 282 calories; 42 g protein; 11 g total fat (0 g sat. fat); 4 g total carbohydrates (0 g sugars, 1 g fiber); 206 mg sodium

Grilled Little Gem Lettuces with Orange, Sherry Vinegar, and Walnuts

Grilled lettuce is deliciously smoky and earthy. Little gems are a miniature variety of romaine, and because of their small size, they’re perfect for this dish. If you can’t find them, don’t hesitate to use romaine hearts.

2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil

1 Tbsp (15 mL) sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup

1/2 tsp (2 mL) sweet paprika

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper

1/2 cup (125 mL) walnuts

8 little gem lettuces or hearts of romaine

1 orange, for garnish

In small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, maple syrup, sweet paprika, salt, and pepper.

Chop walnuts or blitz in food processor to the size of small peas and set aside.

Slice each lettuce in half lengthwise, being careful to retain core. Wash and dry lettuce well. Brush each lettuce half with a bit of olive oil mixture and place cut side down on grill until just wilted and grill marks are showing, about 2 minutes. Turn and grill the other side, about another minute.

Remove lettuce halves to serving plate; sprinkle with chopped walnuts, and drizzle with remaining dressing. Using a rasp, zest a bit of orange over each piece of lettuce. Cut orange in half and squeeze juice from half the orange over lettuce pieces to finish.

Serves 8

Each serving contains: 190 calories; 10 g protein; 10 g total fat (1 g sat. fat); 23 g total carbohydrates (9 g sugars, 1 g fiber); 119 mg sodium

Grilled Pineapple Pops with Coconut Cream

Have a napkin handy when you serve these luscious grilled pineapple skewers. Grilled pineapple is a classic, but this version spices things up a bit, with just a pinch of heat.

1 Tbsp (15 mL) coconut sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon

1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg

1/2 tsp (2 mL) allspice powder

1/4 tsp (1 mL) spicy smoked paprika

Pinch of salt

1 whole pineapple, skin removed, cored, and sectioned into 12 spears

About 3/4 cup (180 mL) coconut whipped cream (or regular whipped cream)

Make sugar-spice mixture ahead of time by combining coconut sugar, spices, and salt, and setting aside.

Soak 12 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to serve pineapple, insert soaked bamboo skewer into each piece of pineapple. Lightly dust each spear with sugar-spice mix.

Heat grill to 375 F (190 C). Brush grill with a bit of neutral-flavored oil (grapeseed oil works well) and place pineapple skewers down at a 45-degree angle to grill grates; cook for 1 or 2 minutes, or until you have a nice grill mark and the pineapple lifts easily. Lift and replace pineapple at the opposite 45-degree angle to make a cross-hatch grill pattern. Repeat on the other side.

To serve, scoop a tablespoon of whipped cream into a dish and top with a pineapple skewer. Dip pineapple into coconut whipped cream as you eat it.

Serves 12

Each serving contains: 100 calories; 1 g protein; 4 g total fat (3 g sat. fat); 18 g total carbohydrates (14 g sugars, 1 g fiber); 26 mg sodium

By Helena McMurdo