Summer BBQs with the Sahadis

There is nothing this family loves more than when the weather cooperates and we can finally BBQ! There is something about an outdoor grill that every Middle Easterner loves.As soon as we can (and sometimes even in inclement weather) the grill gets fired up and we avoid cooking back indoors until late fall.

Traditionally on Memorial Day we host 100-125 family & friends at my parents’ house in rural Pennsylvania. My parents (Charlie & Audrey to everyone else) prepare for weeks getting ready for the first big BBQ of the year.We all converge on the house and cook as an extended family. Lebanese are well known for their hospitality and this party marks the beginning of the summer season.

Because we had such a large group, we had an extensive menu. But everything was backyard friendly. There was too much food to name, but here are a couple highlights. For appetizers we served a giant custom made marinated string cheese, and a bowl of our handmade dukka with almonds and pistachios mixed with Lebanese extra virgin olive oil. This amazing blend makes a terrific quick appetizer served with pita bread or cucumbers. We also had beautiful tabouli stuffed baby peppers made with bulgur wheat and a lemon vinaigrette.

                                        

We marinated vegetables overnight in our housemade Berbere (Ethiopian) seasoning and Lebanese olive oil, then grilled over high heat until tender.We serve them at room temperature at the party. They taste amazing the next day wrapped in a pita bread.

                                                              

Side dishes are always a lot of fun. Traditionally — and in keeping with today’s healthy diets! — we use a lot of vegetables and grains. This year, we made a fabulous quinoa salad and a Mediterranean couscous salad. We love grain salads — they hold up for hours, are good for you, and taste like summer. They also pair wonderfully with beans or lentils as a vegetarian main course.

                                                     

The main dish was a big hit! Since we had so many guests, we decided to grill filet mignons seasoned with our own Shawarma seasoning. Easy and flavorful. For a more intimate gathering, I would suggest preparing chicken and shish kabobs seasoned simply with our chicken or shish kabob blend seasonings and Lebanese olive oil. These kabobs are moist and delicious, as well as easy to make and marinate ahead. They are a true crowd pleaser.These dishes will be part of our weekly menu all summer.