First BBQ of the year.

This weekend marked the kickoff of BBQ weather and festival season, two of my favorite things. In the last few days I packed in a trip to the world's most hilarious boardwalk, a quick dinner at Surf Taco, a successful BBQ and a trip to the greek festival at St. George in Piscataway. Since this weekend was rather food-centric, this post is going to follow suit. I present this weekend's creations, cucumber salad and vegetarian kebabs. Both quick, easy recipes that don't require much by way of culinary skill.

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The cucumber salad consisted of peeled and salted cucumbers combined with white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and a little sugar. Personally I thought the recipe I adopted this dish from was too sweet so I upped the white wine vinegar, added the red onion and lowered the apple cider vinegar and sugar. I used three cucumbers, half a red onion, about 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar, a few splashes of apple cider vinegar and maybe 1/4 of sugar (the recipe called for a 1/4 cup of both vinegars and a half cup of sugar). Cucumber salad should be light and refreshing, and you don't want to flavors to overpower the cucumbers. It's almost summertime, yum.

Next up were the vegetarian kebabs. I've never been a big fan of meat. I stopped eating red meat around age 8 and can remember my charming kid sister mooing at me at the dinner table on steak night. So I tend to shop, cook and order vegetarian. I've maintain vegan diets for long stretches of time too, and tend to keep vegetarian and vegan in mind when planning menus.

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For my kebabs, I picked up 2 medium-sized zucchini, 2 medium red peppers, 1.5 red onions, 1 container of mushrooms and 1 package of Tofurkey Italian Sausage. If you're using bamboo skewers, soak the sticks for a few hours. In the meantime, cut your veggies into chunks. The chunks need to be large enough that the veggies won't break apart when skewered. You can half your mushrooms, quarter your zucchini, cut sausage into rounds about an inch thick, peppers and onions are easy just cut them into big bites.

To assemble, I try to start with something substantial like zucchini at the ends with everything else alternated throughout the middle of the skewer. Once assembled I drizzled some extra virgin olive oil over the plate of kebabs and liberally dusted them with salt and pepper. You can grill them directly on the grill or over tinfoil. What's nice about vegetarian kebabs is that you don't have to worry about cooking the sausage thoroughly, it just needs to heat up, so mind your veggies.

The first of many BBQs to come.

In fact, my friend Stephanie and I are collaborating on a summer picnic-themed recipe zine. More on that later.