Summer Solstice Barbecue: Menu & Recipes

Chuckanut Drive, Bow, WA
The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive

Seven years ago, Mike and I were on a rigorous weight loss program that started right after our 2nd wedding anniversary (April 5th, 2004), and lasted until late October. Mike lost almost 100 pounds; I lost 30. The whole courtship and newly wedded bliss had taken a toll on both of us, and we needed to keep the “happy” and lose the “fat” from the happy fat that we had gained during the previous 3 years. A few months into the 20/20 Program (via the Pro Health Club in Bellevue WA), we were ready to start entertaining again. We wanted to create a menu that contained our allowable food choices.

June is one of my favorite times in WA State for so many reasons. The flowers are in full bloom, and the fresh and local food choices are innumerable. We have Copper River Salmon, fresh asparagus, local strawberries and “stone” fruits, to name a few. And Summer Solstice is celebrated in the Pacific Northwest with such relish (pun intended). After the long dark winter, the summertime is ushered in at the Fremont Fair, the start of Seafair, and the Seattle Pride celebrations.

I’m posting this entry NOW so you’ll have time to plan your own Summer Solstice celebration. Our beach house on the Puget Sound is under construction this year, so it looks like we’ll be celebrating Solstice here in Manhattan Beach. Josh at GROW Produce is already looking into the availability of Copper River Salmon in June.

Here’s our take on a typical summer solstice barbecue that celebrates our fellowship with our friends and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Summer Solstice Barbecue

Clams with Jalapeño, Lemon and Basil
Herb-poached Shrimp Cocktail w/ Salsa
Gazpacho Salad with Cannellini Beans and Feta
Alder-Planked Spice-rubbed Salmon
Vegetable Kebabs with Saffron Butter
Roasted Asparagus
Balsamic-Glazed Strawberries
Grilled Fresh Fruit


3 Tablespoons butter (or Butter-flavored Grapeseed Oil)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Tablespoons minced jalapeño chiles
1 cup canned tomato sauce (Hunt’s All Natural)
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 pounds littleneck or Manila clams, scrubbed & “purged”*
½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 ½ Tablespoons grated lemon peel

Melt butter or oil in a very large pot over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and jalapeño; stir until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add clams; cover and boil until clams open, about 9 minutes (discard any clams that do not open). Transfer clams and sauce to large bowl and keep warm. Boil sauce down for 7-8 minutes until reduced. Add basil and lemon peel. Season with pepper. Pour sauce over clams and serve with a good crusty bread.

8 servings
adapted from Bon Appétit July 2004

*To purge clams, I put them into a colander that fits inside a soup pot filled with [cold] salt water. Let sit for 10 minutes, and carefully remove the colander from the water. The sand from the clams will stay in the bottom of the pot, and they’re ready to be cooked.


Herb-Poached Shrimp

Note: When using larger or smaller shrimp, increase or decrease cooking times for shrimp by one to two minutes, respectively.

3 pounds large (16 to 30 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and rinsed, shells reserved
3 teaspoons salt
3 cups dry white wine
12 peppercorns
15 coriander seeds
1 ½ bay leaves
15 sprigs fresh parsley
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
3 teaspoons juice from 1 small lemon

1. Bring reserved shells, 9 cups water, and salt to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until fragrant, about 20 minutes. Strain stock through sieve, pressing on shells to extract all liquid.

2. Bring stock and remaining ingredients except shrimp to boil in 6- or 8-quart saucepan over high heat; boil 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in shrimp; cover and let stand until firm and pink, about 8-10 minutes. Drain shrimp, reserving stock for another use. (Like Shrimp Bisque, Shrimp Gumbo or Scallop & Mushroom Bisque.)

3. Plunge shrimp into ice water to stop cooking, then drain again. Serve shrimp chilled with salsa or cocktail sauce (recipes follow).

4. If you prefer to serve the shrimp hot, or over pasta, add the thoroughly drained shrimp to the jalapeño sauce (from the previous clam recipe) and simmer for 1 minute. Serve hot with sauce.

Cocktail Sauce

3 cups ketchup (preferably organic)
8 teaspoons prepared horseradish
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons ancho or other mild chili powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons juice from 1 small lemon

Stir all ingredients together in small bowl; adjust seasonings as necessary.


Fresh Tomato Salsa

Heat varies from jalapeño to jalapeño, and because much of the heat resides in the seeds, mince the seeds separately from the flesh, then add minced seed to taste. The salsa can be made 2 to 3 hours in advance, but hold off adding the salt, lime juice and sugar until just before serving.

1 ½ pounds firm, ripe tomatoes, cut into 3/8-inch dice (~ 3 cups)
1 large jalapeño chile, seeded, flesh minced (about 2 Tbls.)
½ cup minced red onion
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
½ teaspoon salt
2-6 teaspoons juice from 1 to 2 limes
Sugar to taste (up to 1 teaspoon)

Set large colander in large bowl. Place tomatoes in colander and let drain 30 minutes. As tomatoes drain, layer jalapeño, onion, garlic and cilantro on top. Shake colander to drain off excess tomato juice. Discard juice; wipe out bowl.

Transfer contents of colander to now-empty bowl. Add salt, a pinch of ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons lime juice; toss to combine. Taste and add minced jalapeño seeds, sugar, and additional lime juice to taste.

Makes about 3 cups
from Cook’s Illustrated, July & August 2004

Gazpacho Salad w/ Cannellini Beans & Feta

6 Tablespoons tomato juice
4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

12 cups gourmet salad greens (or Romaine)
4 cups chopped tomato (about 2 pounds)
2 cups chopped cucumber
1 cup thinly sliced basil
2/3 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
2 (16-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained

To prepare dressing, combine first 8 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare salad, combine salad greens and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing mixture, tossing gently to combine. Serve immediately.

8 servings (serving size 2 cups)

Calories: 205; Fat 6.8g; Protein 8.8g; Carb 29g
from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2004


Alder-Planked Spice-Rubbed Salmon

1 or 2 (15 x 6 ½ x 3/8-inch) alder or cedar grilling planks *
Spice rub for Salmon (John Howie’s “3 Chefs in a Tub” rub) *
1 (4-pound) salmon fillet

4 hours ahead: Sprinkle salmon with salmon rub. Lightly rub into the salmon. Let rest, uncovered; refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Immerse and soak planks for 1 hour (use a can to weigh it down); drain.

Place fish, skin side down, on plank. Grill, covered, 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork (internal temperature of 130°).

* Note: you can order planks for use on barbecue grills, oven planks and various spice rubs from Planks are also available at Bristol Farms or Whole Foods, along with salmon spice rubs at the Fish counter, or at Sur la Table.

Calories 307, Fat 10g, Protein 38g; Carb 5g


Vegetable Kebabs with Saffron Butter

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter
½ teaspoon saffron threads
6 medium zucchini, each cut crosswise into 6 rounds
4 large red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut into ½ inch squares
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ears fresh corn, each cut into 6 rounds
12 10-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes, drained

Melt butter in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Stir in saffron. Cool 1 hour.

Alternate 3 zucchini rounds, 3 red bell pepper squares, 3 red onion pieces, and 2 corn rounds on each skewer.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Brush kebabs with all but 4 tablespoons saffron butter. Season with salt and pepper; grill until vegetables are tender and brown, turning frequently, about 20 minutes. Brush with remaining butter.

Serves 12
from Bon Appétit June 2003

Roasted Asparagus

Toss asparagus spears with olive oil, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Roast at 450° for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Sprinkle with Balsamic Vinegar, and top with shavings of Parmesan cheese.


Strawberries in Raspberry-Balsamic Glaze
6 servings

3 Tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
1 ½ Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 ½ Tablespoons red wine
3 cups strawberries, halved or quartered if large
½ cup mascarpone or unsweetened whipped cream, optional

1. Whisk the jam, vinegar and red wine together in a small, heavy saucepan set over low heat until smooth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the glaze is reduced by about half and has a syrupy consistency, 3 to 5 minutes.

Note – This took a lot longer than 3-5 minutes – more like 30- 40.

2. Place the strawberries in a large bowl, pour the warm glaze over them, and gently fold together with a rubber spatula until they’re just coated.

3. Spoon the berries into stemmed glasses or bowls, garnish with a small dollop of mascarpone or whipped cream, and serve right away.

From “Come for Dinner: Memorable Meals to Share with Friends” by Leslie Revsin

3 thoughts on “Summer Solstice Barbecue: Menu & Recipes

  1. Lisa – Just have to say that your blog is inspiring me to cook! Thanks! I’ll definitely be trying out the gazpacho and kebab recipes once it warms up a bit and we can cook in the backyard. Maybe you and Mike can join us? My homemade falafels are pretty good.


    1. Suchi, We would LOVE that! And of course I know what a fabulous cook you are! I’ll include the Gazpacho SOUP recipe on this site soon. It’s so delicious with fresh tomatoes, but I use San Marzano canned tomatoes for the Soup Party. Two reasons: fresh tomatoes taste terrible in March, and when I’m making 500 cups of soup for the party, I’d run out of time if I had to peel & seed that many tomatoes!! Thanks for “visiting”! Hope to see you soon! Lisa


  2. You are too amazing!!! Thank you for the recipes … I wil try the salmon and Asparagus (that’s about my speed!!!) Thanks for thinking of me … Real Simple (not very Gourmet)
    xo Jodee


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