Fresh Fridays


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Fresh Flavors for the Fourth of July   


What will you cook for the Fourth of July this year? If your plans include grilling, think about ways to bring Mediterranean-inspired foods and great flavors to your backyard celebration.

For starters, nudge all those classic picnic side dishes into healthy fare by making some very simple and tasty substitutions. Use plain Greek yogurt and a bit of Dijon mustard, or thin hummus with a little lemon juice and use in place of mayonnaise for cold salads built with barley, farro, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta. Make your potato salad the Mediterranean way, tossing hot cooked potatoes with a light mustard-vinaigrette dressing while they're still warm, and adding a generous amount of chopped fresh parsley or tarragon. Cook up some hard-boiled eggs and mash the yolks with hummus or guacamole.  Grill seafood and vegetables, separately or combined on skewers.

For extra flavor, marinate fish, seafood, and chicken, and then cook quickly over hot coals. Learn to make your own simple marinades from scratch, using olive oil and just a few other ingredients such as wine, vinegar, garlic, and spices.
Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind:
Use a glass or ceramic dish, or a heavy-duty zip-top bag for marinating seafood, poultry or meat. Avoid cast-iron or aluminum containers, which can react with acidic ingredients.
Keep your cooking grate as clean as you would a skillet in the kitchen to prevent food from sticking. Scrub it with a wire brush or steel wool after your meal, and brush it with olive oil before you start cooking again. To clean a very dirty grate, fill your kitchen sink with hot water, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of dishwasher soap, and soak the grill for up to an hour. Turn it if necessary and continue soaking until the baked on bits begin to loosen. Then scrub with steel wool. 
Use long-handled tongs, not a fork, to turn food as it cooks. Every time you stab a piece of food with a fork, you create a place for the juices to run out. 

Here are five delicious, easy recipes to try this weekend.   



Skewered Shrimp with Black Bean-Lemon Rice 

Serves 4 


In addition to rice, you can make this recipe with barley, farro, quinoa, or bulgur. Try itwith white or red beans, or chickpeas too. 




Marinade/DressingSkewered Shrimp

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper



24 large raw, headless, peeled shrimp, with tails on (about 1 pound)

24 cherry tomatoes

2 poblano chili peppers, seeded and cut into 24 pieces

24 whole green onions, trimmed to 6 inches in length

8 12-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water



3 cups hot cooked brown rice

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest



Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Reserve cup of the mixture in a small saucepan and set aside. Place the shrimp in a resealable plastic bag, pour the marinade over the shrimp, seal tightly and coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes, turning frequently.


Remove the shrimp from the marinade (reserving the marinade). Thread the shrimp on the skewers, alternating with the tomatoes, chilies, and onions (folded in half).


Heat the grill to high. Brush the skewers with the reserved marinade and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp are opaque in center.


Set the saucepan with the remaining marinade directly on the grill to heat slightly. Toss the rice with the black beans, cilantro, and lemon zest. To serve, top the rice with the skewers and spoon the remaining marinade over skewers.


Nutritional Analysis: 

Calories: 486, Fat: 13g, Sodium 294mg, Carbohydrate: 71g, Protein: 25g 


Recipe courtesy of Pompeian



Grilled Balsamic Honey Mustard Chicken   

Serves 6          


This tasty marinade can also be used with chicken thighs, turkey breast, or pork tenderloin.  



6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded 1/2 inch thickGrilled Balsamic Honey Mustard Chicken

2 green onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley



1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

cup honey mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste



Make the marinade: Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Arrange the chicken in a shallow baking dish, pour the marinade on top, and turn to coat evenly. Refrigerate and marinate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Grill the chicken breasts for about 5 minutes on each side or until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Sprinkle the chicken with the green onions and parsley. Serve hot, or let cool and serve at room temperature.   


Nutritional Analysis: 

Calories: 277, Fat: 10g, Sodium 109mg, Carbohydrate: 4g, Protein: 27g   


Recipe courtesy of Pompeian.



Black Bean, Edamame, and Wheat Berry Salad  

Serves 6          


Here's a nutritious side dish that goes well with any grilled food. Look for wheat berries (unprocessed wheat kernels) in Black Bean Saladsupermarkets and health food stores. 




4 cups water

cup dry wheat berries

1 cup cooked black beans (about half of a 15 ounce can, rinsed and drained)

1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed

1 cup chopped tomato

cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Combine the water and wheat berries in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 55 minutes or until the wheat berries are just tender. Drain well in a fine mesh strainer and combine with the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 8 hours in advance.


Nutritional Analysis: 

Calories: 296, Fat: 8.5g, Sodium 36mg, Carbohydrate: 45g, Protein: 12g   


Recipe courtesy of Pompeian.



Serves 6          


This popular Mediterranean grain salad goes with all manner of grilled foods. Add diced tomatoes, olives, and chickpeas if you wish. 



1 cups water

1 cup coarse bulgur

teaspoon salt, plus salt to taste

Juice of 1 lemon or lime (about cup)

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced

1 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)


Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stir in the bulgur and salt. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

Add the lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil and stir gently to mix. Transfer the bulgur to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.  To serve, add the cucumber and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.  


Nutritional Analysis: 

Calories: 184, Fat: 10g, Sodium 266mg, Carbohydrate: 20g, Protein: 4g   


An Oldways recipe. 


Three Bean Salad 

Serves 6          


A staple of the picnic table, this classic salad is easy to make and a favorite with all ages. 


IngredientsThree Bean Salad

2 tablespoons balsamic or cider vinegar

cup extra-virgin olive oil

teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces

8 ounces wax (yellow) beans, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 small red onion, diced

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced



Combine the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside. Cook the green and yellow beans in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes, or just until crisp-tender. Drain and add to the dressing along with the remaining ingredients. Toss gently and season with additional salt and pepper if you wish.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours before serving.


Nutritional Analysis: 

Calories: 180, Fat: 10g, Sodium 199mg, Carbohydrate: 20g, Protein: 6g   


An Oldways recipe. 

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living.  We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.

 To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit our  

Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA) website