We don’t know about you guys, but this year, we’ve been counting down the days to Memorial Day. The whole weekend is a glorious ode to summer, a trifecta of perfect weather, copious produce and playing hooky (so what if your boss knows beforehand?). Make sure you kick the season off to a good start with a menu that makes the best of all three.
It’s pretty much physically and financially impossible to make all of these things, but we’d like to dream big when it comes to Memorial Day, so have at it and let us know which ones you’ll be grilling, baking, and packing up for picnics.
Starters and Small Bites:
Spiced Citrus Pickled Shrimp – We cannot think of a single situation that pickled foods would not make better, can you? One suggestion for this recipe: leaving out the cinnamon will tip it towards a more summery flavor – then watch how fast these shrimp disappear. This Carrot and Watermelon Radish Pickle (from The Bojon Gourmet) would be equally as welcome.
Zucchini and Ricotta Salata Bruschetta – Better start using up that zucchini now, before things get really out of hand, right? And since tomatoes aren’t really at their peak yet, why not try Shutterbean’s Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini instead?
These Baby Potato Bites with Chorizo and Bresaola Hand Rolls are two season-less finger foods that would be incredibly easy to put together before the fun starts (but difficult to resist while you’re prepping the rest of the meal).
Roasted Red Pepper Romesco Dip (Vegan) – We’re pretty sure a very wise philosopher probably once said that every great party needs an even better dip. Right, so: this is one of our very favorites because it’s smoky, sultry, and unexpected, and could do double duty as a sauce for a main dish.
Sides, Salads and Meatless Dishes:
Mushroom Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps – This take on a classic Korean BBQ dish will make any meat-abstainer very happy. Of course, you could also slice up a grilled steak and make the meat-lovers happy with this dish, too!
These Pickled Strawberries + spinach, goat cheese, tarragon, and a handful of toasted nuts = salad winning.
Grilled Romaine Salad (HonestlyYUM) – You’re grilling everything else, so why can’t you grill salad? (Answer: You can, and you should!). HonestlyYUM knows that grilling just might be the best thing that ever happened to a piece of lettuce.
Creamy Summer Slaw with Raw Broccoli and Buttermilk (Bon Appetit) – We like Bon Appetit’s broccoli variation because it’s got none of your usual slaw suspects (get outta there, raisins!), and the buttermilk dressing could be put to use beyond this salad (so maybe make a double batch).
Summer Squash and Corn Orzo (Love and Lemons) – Corn is still coming into its peak ripeness in many parts of the country, but if you’ve got to have it this weekend, kill two birds with one stone and toss in in with this delicious orzo pasta salad from Love and Lemons.
Grilled Onions and Mushrooms (Food Network) – Save a little room on the coals for some veggies – you can’t go wrong with classics like onions and mushrooms, both of which hold up well to the grill and would be perfect toppings for steak, burgers, salads… you name it. Aida demonstrates how in this throwback vid.
Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes (Food52) – Poor Joe, always getting such a bad rap. Surely now that he’s gone vegan he’ll start improving his reputation, especially with Food52 vetting for him.
Grilled, Skewered and Sandwiched Main Dishes:
Grilled Saffron Beef Kebabs – Just because the holiday tends to revolve around laid-back fare doesn’t mean you can’t add a dash of excitement, does it?
Spice-Rubbed Hangar Steak with Chimichurri Sauce – Chimichurri is kind of a go-to around here, and for good reason: it’s quick, easy, and alongside grilled steak it’s basically going to make everyone fall in love with you.
Skirt Steak with Arugula and Blue Cheese (Smitten Kitchen) – Smitten Kitchen’s simple recipe for easy delicious-ness: steak on salad, add cheese: kind of a wonderful no-brainer, huh?
Bacon and Sriracha Chicken Sandwich – We know, summer is very exciting, but it can’t all be about the grill. In case you don’t have one, but you do have a Central Park, public pool or scenic something, make a picnic and take along some of these sandwiches.
Pineapple-Marinated Grilled Chicken Sliders – Something a little different from the standard grill fare: marinating chicken in pineapple juice is a neat trick.
Suzanne Goin’s Grilled Pork Burgers (Food52) – If you’re going to do burgers, do them justice, okay? The great Suzanne Goin does not disappoint (thanks for sharing, Food52).
Paprika-Rubbed Grilled Salmon Salad – You can do this on the grill OR in the oven, so if weather doesn’t permit you’ve still got lunch covered.
And one condiment… Bacon and Ramp Vinaigrette (Saveur) – If you’re lucky enough to still be finding ramps in your area, this dressing from Saveur will definitely give them the send-off they deserve. We’d make this and pour it over everything – probably even dessert, if no one stopped us.
Upside-Down Peach Rhubarb Polenta Cake – How does the song go? Millions up upside-down peaches; peaches for everyone? Yes, that’s it, or at least it should be.
Strawberry Rhubarb Slab Pie – Take advantage of rhubarb season while you can. You can make this slab pie well in advance, giving you enough time to double down and make some Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream, found on Martha Stewart, to go with it.
Red Wine Granita with Vanilla Ice Cream (HonestlyYUM) – We said it before, and we’ll say it again: we love HonestlyYUM’s granita + ice cream pairing.
Unbelievable Dairy-Free Chocolate Pudding – We’re all adults here, right? So we can all admit that running around with chocolate pudding on our faces isn’t just for kids when it’s at a BBQ, right?
Chocolate Chunk and Coconut Cookies (Cook Republic) – Whether you’re grilling or picnic-ing, one thing is certain: you must have cookies! Strongly suggesting these from Cook Republic.
Mostly on Memorial Day, we like to kick back with a cold beer, but if you want to make something special for the occasion, we’d like to suggest one of these refreshing choices: Cucumber and Ginger Mojitos, Strawberry Moscow Mules, Lillet Lemonade, 24th Street Spritz (Bon Appetit), take your pick!
No matter what you cook up, have a delicious weekend, everybody!
Photo via Ian Norman