Happy Summer! Finally! It’s almost the middle of June and we just started getting hot weather this weekend. At the beginning of last week I had to turn my heat on… I was hoping that my heating bill would drop off the map this month, but not so much.

How’s your first weekend of summer? I’m excited I finally got to dig out my summer clothes, have a drink (or two) on my back deck, and most importantly, fire up my grill. Although I shouldn’t say that, because cold weather doesn’t stop me from barbecuing, it’s just more enjoyable when you can sit on your back deck and enjoy a beverage while your dinner is cooking.

That was me Friday enjoying my Prosecco in a koozie while grilling. Ahhh summer.

Food, Sunshine and Prosecco = happiness. πŸ™‚

I have been SO excited to share these recipes with you. They’ve been in the works for a while now, but I’ve finally perfected the recipes, and made sure to measure everything out. (Something I still forget to do).

I’ve had chicken skewers on the brain for a good month, and I wanted to get creative with them. I didn’t just want to pop some chicken on a stick with vegetables. That’s boring, and everyone has done it. I’m all about getting creative and coming up with new ideas.

My idea: bacon wrapped chicken skewers with a creamy herbed dressing.

I decided to do a dressing with this because I didn’t want to get crazy with marinades for the chicken. Since they were going to be wrapped in bacon, it gives the chicken lots of flavour while keeping it moist and juicy. It’s like a big comfy blanket for the chicken. <— cheesy. Which means no marinade needed.

But, who doesn’t love a good dipping sauce? I labeled this as a “dressing,” but you can dip it if you prefer over drizzling.

This is what the skewers looked like once I was done piecing them together. Ready for the BBQ.

Tip: If you’re using bamboo skewers, make sure you soak the bottoms of them for at least an hour (or longer) so they don’t singe off when you’re grilling them.

Also: spray your grill with oil before you put these on. Or it will not end well and you will be scraping it off the grill for dinner.

These guys don’t take too long to cook, about 12-15 minutes, depending on how hot you have your grill. I usually have mine sitting at 400 degrees – med-high.

Once they’re done, pop them on a tray, and drizzle the dressing over them.

Look at that beautiful chicken wrapped in crispy bacon. You could almost serve this on a bed of lettuce and call it a “CBLT” (with red onion). I love me a good salad. Ohhh future recipe idea? I mean there’s already a dressing to go on top too, so if you didn’t feel like making a side to go with these, just pop them on a bed of lettuce. (Except I’d probably add cheese too) πŸ™‚

This is what the dressing looks like. I made it ahead of time so the flavours could marry a bit. I used dry herbs, but as the summer goes on and I can get fresh local parsley, I’ll make it with the fresh herbs instead. I actually have fresh basil in my garden, but I chopped it all down for pesto last week (oops!) and when you want it to grow fast it doesn’t. So, the waiting game I will play!

That is what’s left of my sad-looking basil plants, that saw the scissors. πŸ™ Β On the bright side, they’re still alive!

I love having a fresh herb garden. There’s nothing better than grabbing a pair of scissors, going out and cutting down some fresh herbs to add a burst of colour and flavour to a dish.

I love a colourful dish. The saying is true, we eat with our eyes first. This veggie pasta salad I’m sharing with you, I found years ago in an old magazine. I tried it with my own personal touches, and loved it. I’ve made it every summer for years, and the original recipe has also been missing for years. But it remains one of my favourites, I’ve probably made it different every time, because I can never remember the exact ingredients. (Until this year, YAY blog).

I am so excited that fresh produce is starting to arrive at the farmers market and stores!!! I go to my local farmers market every Saturday, and that is where I get most of my inspiration to cook. Every year I find a new piece of produce I’ve never tried. Last year it was butter beans. This year: asparagus.

Yes, I’ve tried asparagus before. My mom used to feed me canned asparagus (gross). And I’ve also tried it fresh but,Β I.have.never.liked.asparagus.one.bit… until this year. It was served on my plate at a restaurant about a month ago, and my first thought was to leave it on my plate like I always do. But after a few glasses of Prosecco, I thought “what the heck, I’ll try it again.” And just like magic, I liked it. But so far, only grilled.

The original recipe for this veggie pasta salad called for asparagus. But I always left it out. But not now! It’s a great addition and I love it!

Asparagus is always the earliest veggie you can get locally in the spring, so I’m happy I’ve magically acquired a taste for it, because now I want to eat it until it’s no longer available.

You can get creative with this pasta salad and make it your own. My preferred noodle for this is a small shell, but you can use whatever you want. I don’t recommend penne though. Too big and dense.

The dressing for this salad is amazing. Roasted garlic vinaigrette. And if you’re in a hurry, you can cheat like I do and buy the squeeze bottle of roasted garlic paste. I have made my own, but this is a great salad to whip up if you’re short on time, and roasting garlic is time consuming.

Olive oil, roasted garlic paste, red wine vinegar, pepper, dijon are the main ingredients in this dressing. It really pairs great with the sharp asiago cheese that goes in the salad.

If you don’t own a grill bowl, I highly recommend going and getting one. They’re inexpensive, and are awesome for making side dishes on the BBQ. (And they’re only 10 bucks). See what I mean by awesome colours? All of these veggies are slowly making their way into our local market. Fresh asparagus, peppers and cherry tomatoes. You can make this all summer, and just toss in whatever veggies are in season. I love adding zucchini once it’s available.

And voila! An absolutely stunning pasta salad, with tons of flavour and colour. I love the flavours that come out in this dish, and it’s so good for you, I have no problem going back for seconds.

I hope you guys had as good of a weekend as I did, and if you make any of these recipes, feel free to leave me a comment, or two! I love hearing from you! πŸ™‚

Also, if you’re looking for more ideas for seasonal recipes, stay tuned, because I literally cooked and baked all weekend, and have more to come.

Happy Sunday, and happy eating!

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers

Take your chicken skewers to a whole new level by wrapping them in bacon before placing them on the skewers. When they're on the grill, the bacon gets crispy and keeps the chicken tender. Pull them off the grill and drizzle them with a light herbed vinaigrette.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts boneless/skinless, cubed 2"
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 large red onions quartered
  • large bamboo skewers

Creamy Herb Dressing

  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil or any mild oil

Instructions

  1. Soak bamboo skewers in a glass of water, so the bottoms of the skewers don't burn when grilling.

  2. Cube the chicken breasts and place in a bowl. Add the pepper and mix the chicken until well coated. 

  3. To assemble the skewers: grab a strip of bacon and place on a cutting board. Grab a piece of chicken, and roll the bacon over the chicken piece. Cut off the bacon when the chicken piece is wrapped and place the cube on the skewer. Add a piece of onion and a tomato, then another piece of bacon wrapped chicken. Do this until all the chicken is wrapped and on skewers. I usually put 3-4 pieces of chicken on one skewer. Three cherry tomatoes and 4-5 pieces of onion.

  4. Preheat the BBQ to medium high heat. Once hot, spray the grill with an oil to ensure the skewers don't stick.

    Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 12-15 minutes. They will be done when the bacon is crispy and the juice from the chicken runs clear.

  5. Remove the skewers from the grill and place them on a large plate/platter. Drizzle with the herbed vinaigrette and serve.

For the herbed dressing:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the oil. Once they are combined, slowly whisk in the oil until it is blended.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes 8-10 skewers, depending on how much you load onto each one.Β 

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Start grilling season with this beautiful spring vegetable pasta salad. Grilled vegetables make this a colourful dish, and it's tossed in a roasted garlic vinaigrette and finished with Asiago cheese. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried small pasta shells
  • 1 red pepper chopped in 1 in. pieces
  • 1 yellow pepper chopped in 1 in. pieces
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes
  • 10 spears asparagus chopped into 2 in. pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 1 cup asiago cheese grated

For the roasted garlic vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tsp roasted garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.

  2. Preheat the BBQ on med-high, and place your bowl on the grills to heat up.

  3. In a large bowl, toss the asparagus, peppers and cherry tomatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil. When the BBQ is hot, toss the vegetables into the grill bowl, and cook for 10 minutes, tossing every 2 minutes.

  4. When the pasta and vegetables are done cooking, add to a large bowl, add the fresh basil, asiago cheese, add the vinaigrette and toss until everything is evenly coated.

To make the vinaigrette:

  1. In a small bowl or airtight container, measure and add all the ingredients together. Seal the container and give it a good shake to stir the contents. Set aside until ready to serve. Shake or whisk the vinaigrette before serving.

Recipe Notes

This salad is best served right away, but if you have leftovers, it will keep for a day in the fridge.

Salad dressing keeps in the fridge up to a week.

 

 

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