Cooking with Pier 22 Chef Greg Campbell: Grilled fish a perfect summer dish

May 28, 2014 

Summer is upon us and, of course, the desire for the proverbial "beach body" has more people buying more fruits and vegetables at the supermarket.

Seafood is also popular in the beginning of summer, but people have the tendency to eat more steak and potatoes in July and August.

All summer long, the same people who are watching their waistline are also being tantalized by backyard barbecues that include chips, dips, ribs, steaks, potatoes, sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers and the occasional piece of fruit. Not a very good menu selection for summer slimming.

Great healthy, sustainable meals are usually prepared at home and never performed on the community charcoal grill at the public beach. Having a well-stocked refrigerator is not only helpful for keeping the beach body in check, but is also necessary if you want to bring a well-prepared item to grill at someone else's party.

When we think of healthy, we typically don't think savory and delicious. But purchasing healthy ingredients in the correct combination for an entrée will work miracles for the waistline and the taste buds.

There are many great farmers markets in the area that run all year and offer various sustainable and organic choices. Farmers mar

kets are typically less expensive than the prices you will find at your local grocer. Farmers markets typically source produce straight from the farm to sell it on your local Main Street, which makes the pricing ideal for you.

There are also some pretty good fish houses where you can find good local seafood that is more fairly priced. The fish houses will only have the seasonal variety, but they'll be a much safer, fresher product for your barbecue.

Keeping these notes in mind, you can move forward with a little extra effort to obtain local sustainable quality ingredients for a summer slimming dish. The local markets will provide savings on your monthly grocery bill and will help sustain our farmers if we follow the local seasonality of our produce.

Showing up to the beach barbecue with a delicious entrée is always a sure hit with your friends and family. But to also be able to talk about the healthy, local and organic aspects of it will definitely make you a sure hit. Here is a great dish that will be sure to "wow" the most technical shish-kabab aficionado, and it is entirely gluten free.

Red Snapper Brochettes

HERB MIXTURE

1- 1/2 tablespoons basil

2 teaspoons marjoram

2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon sage

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1/4 teaspoon dried lavender, chopped

Use fresh herbs if possible. Chop finely and mix ingredients into small bowl to combine.

VEGETABLE MIXTURE

1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

Cherry tomatoes (10-20)

Mini bell peppers (assorted colors), cut into 1-inch cubes

Red onion, quartered and halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

Place vegetables in mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons of herb mixture and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in bowl and mix well. Using 8-inch skewers, thread vegetables in order of listing above until all vegetables have been used. Cover and marinate in seasonings and oil for 3-4 hours before grilling.

FOR THE FISH

2 pounds American Red snapper filets

Cut snapper into 1-inch cubes and thread onto separate 8-inch skewers. Season snapper skewers with 1 tablespoon of fresh herb mixture and drizzle olive oil over brochettes.

PAN SAUCE

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 tablespoons lemon juice

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup white wine

Take 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté garlic over medium heat. When garlic begins to stick to pan, deglaze with white wine and lemon juice. Simmer for 1-2 minutes and remove from heat.

Grill vegetable and snapper brochettes until fish is cooked through. Serving suggestion would be two vegetable brochettes and one snapper brochette with a drizzling of the pan sauce over the fish and vegetable. Serve with a nice rice pilaf.

Greg Campbell, executive chef at Pier 22 Restaurant in Bradenton, can be reached at greg@pier22dining.com.

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