Grill nights cap off weekend

We’ve started a new event at our house – Sunday Grill Nights. Weather permitting, we fire up the charcoal grill at 5:30 pm, make a huge salad and have ice cream on hand for dessert. Neighbors and friends drop by, bringing whatever they want to grill.

And of course, this being the South, they usually bring a surprise side dish or a pint of fresh strawberries or blueberries.

It took more than a decade for my northern-born husband to realize that you just don’t arrive at a host’s house empty-handed.  He thought it was rude to show up with unexpected food, as if you were second guessing the host’s menu-planning or cooking skills. And, with a formal dinner party, he’s correct. But with everything else, he’s the first one to ask “What can we bring?”

Assimulation complete.

Somehow,  the lack of planning always works together. Packets of red potatos, sliced onions with butter and rosemary, marinated purple asparagas and heads of garlic get tossed on the grill rack above everyone’s choice of protein. We discuss the timing of getting the varieties of meat or vegetables to finish cooking within five minutes of each other. Then we settle in to recap what we did over the weekend, recommending books, movies or restaurants.  It’s a relaxed, paper-napkin kind of way to squeeze the last fun out of the weekend.

This past Sunday we attempted to recreate a restaurant’s zucchini feta burgers, cooking them on a grill pan to keep them from falling apart.  They might have worked better if we hadn’t had to scramble to escape one of this summer’s violent thunderstorms that suddenly reared its head. We finished them under the broiler and they were so good –  even a little burnt on one side –  that we will make them again. There are plenty of Sundays left this summer.

Zucchini Feta Sliders with Jackson Sauce

makes 6

four small zucchini (about the length of a finger)

2 tsp. salt

1 red bell pepper

1 egg

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1/2 tsp garlic powder

ground pepper to taste

At least 30 minutes before cooking, grate the unpeeled zucchini and place in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle the zucchini with the salt, stir and mash down gently. Let zucchini drain, ocassionally pressing down on it.

Dice the red pepper finely. Place drained zucchini on a paper towel and squeeze to remove more moisture. Combine zucchini and the rest of the ingredients in  large bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed. Shape into 6 patties by hand.

Place patties on a grill pan coated with cooking spray.

Grill on the top shelf or over indirect heat for five minutes. Flip and grill another five minutes.

Serve on buns, or wrap in tortillas along with sauce.

Jackson Sauce.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

1 Tbsp. hot sauce

2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Mix ingredients well and refrigerate until ready to eat.

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