Turn your kitchen into party central this July 4th
The 4th of July is a favorite holiday in our house, mostly because it’s the kickoff to the Block Island summer season. Break out the red, white, and blue and let the festivities begin! However, like everything else, our celebration will look a little (or a lot) different this year. With no parade or fireworks, the focus will be, more than ever, on the cookout with family and friends… albeit a much smaller crowd than our usual bash.
I always have a buffet with loads of salad and the classic burgers and dogs on the grill, but I also have some signature dishes that go a little outside the box.
So, let’s start with a cocktail. You are probably familiar with Sangria, but have you ever had Tinto de Verano (translation - Red Wine of Summer)? This drink is arguably more popular in Spain than the classic Sangria. It is easy to make and great for a party. The traditional recipe combines an inexpensive dry red table wine, sweet vermouth, and a lemon lime soda found in Spain. My recipe takes all of those elements to make a refreshing and beautiful summer glass laced with oranges and lemons.
We fire up the grill and my guests nosh on a variety of dips and my mom always brings deviled eggs. There are countless appetizer recipes for you to make on the blog, but let’s get to the main event and my signature 4th of July dish – Spaghetti and meatball burgers. So highly anticipated that there is usually a line at our grill, kids and adults alike, vying to make sure they get one.
These burgers encompass all of the flavors in a traditional spaghetti and meatball dinner, complete with garlic bread and Caesar salad. Actual spaghetti is woven throughout the burger which has the components of a classic meatball mixture. When the burger is cooked the spaghetti gets crispy on the outside and stays soft on the inside. The burgers are topped with melty provolone and mozzarella cheese, spaghetti sauce, and a handful of classic Caesar salad. It all comes between a bun that is toasted with garlic butter! The best part – you can make the patties in advance and freeze them… Just thaw before grilling. Each luscious bite will bring you back to Sunday Dinner at your Nonna’s house. Even The Godfather would tell you, “This is a burger you can’t refuse!”
The salads! Two of my favorites are Asian Noodle Salad with Rainbow Veggies and Summer Spinach and Orzo salad. The Asian Noodle salad combines linguini with crunchy fresh vegetables in a soy, peanut, ginger dressing. It’s delicious cold or at room temperature and the leftovers (if you have any) keep really nicely and the flavors just keep getting better and better.
The Summer Spinach and Orzo salad is bright and fresh, studded with peas and grilled corn and loads of salty feta cheese! Make double the dressing and it keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Are you full yet? The cookout closes with a summer classic – Strawberry Shortcake. The secret to the lightest biscuits with flaky layers? Freeze your butter and grate it on the large holes of a box grater. You will never go back to a pastry blender (or canned biscuits for that matter) again.
Now, pump up the tunes and have a good old fashioned (social distance) dance party on the deck to work off all of those calories.
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