Burgers, steaks, hot dogs and barbecued chicken are always popular choices for summer cookouts, but you also can grill for good health by choosing lighter entrees, such as seafood, boneless chicken breasts and vegetables. If you are avoiding chicken skin but are afraid to lose flavor and moisture with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, think kebabs. They cook quickly, and you don't run the risk of ending up with tough, dried-out hunks of white meat.
Cut boneless breasts into large bite-size pieces and thread loosely onto skewers. Grill quickly, turning a couple of times, just until the meat turns white and opaque. Brush the kebabs the last few minutes with a Red Russian/chili sauce. Blend lots of chili powder into bottled red Russian salad dressing. It's a nice change from standard barbecue sauce with hickory flavor.
Chicken kebabs go nicely with corn on the cob, grilled zucchini and thick grilled sweet-onion slices. Serve bean burritos instead of baked beans.
Seafood may be more expensive than steak, but it's lower in fat. Fish grills quickly, and it marinates within an hour of serving the meal.
Here are two grilled seafood recipes from the National Seafood Promotional Council.
Curry-Rubbed Salmon Fillet
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon each salt, freshly ground pepper
2-pound salmon fillet, 1-inch thick
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 nectarines or peaches
\ cup golden raisins
\ cup freshly julienned basil leaves
1 red bell pepper, cut julienne
1 garlic clove, minced
\ cup red wine vinegar
\ cup orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients for the fruit relish or salsa and mix gently. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the curry, cumin powder, salt and pepper. Rinse salmon fillet under cold, running water. Pat dry. Rub both sides of fillet with vegetable oil; lightly coat both sides with curry mixture. (For easier grilling, you may want to cut the salmon fillet into four serving pieces.)
Over a medium-hot fire, grill fillet about 4 minutes each side, until just opaque throughout. Remove from grill and serve salmon with a heaping spoonful of fruit salsa.
Yield: 4 servings. Preparation time: 45 minutes.
Grilled Tuna Steaks
cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Hot pepper sauce
4 tuna steaks, 8-ounces each, 1-inch thick
6 tablespoons sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
8 green onions, trimmed
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger and hot sauce for dipping sauce. Mix well and set aside.
Rinse tuna and pat dry. Rub lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper. Over a medium-hot fire, grill steaks about 3 minutes on each side, being careful not to overcook. Check for doneness by bending one of the steaks gently and peeking inside, looking for a slight translucence in the center.
Meanwhile, rub whole green onions with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on grill. Grill about 4 minutes total, moving around occasionally so that they get grill marks on all sides. Remove from grill.
Serve each tuna steak accompanied by two grilled green onions and a small individual bowl of dipping sauce.
Alternative fish: swordfish, marlin, opah, shark (shark is the easiest fish of all to overcook and dry out).
Yield: 4 servings. Preparation time: 30 minutes.