Summer Grilling

It’s Not Just Burgers and Hotdogs

By: Shannon Smith | Category: Restaurants | Issue: July 2019

World traveler and professional chef, Shannon Smith, owner of Beads and Basil.

World traveler and professional chef, Shannon Smith, owner of Beads and Basil.

I’m that person that fires up the grill every month of the year. I’ve been known to wear a ski mask to keep warm over the grill during a snowstorm. Summer is my favorite time to grill because there are so many freshly grown vegetables to throw over the coals, bringing out the smoky flavors and delicious char.

Grilling isn’t just for burgers and hotdogs. Gather your favorite veggies and drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper and let the sizzle begin. You can get creative by adding flavorful dry rubs, freshly chopped herbs or seasoned salt. You can even grill fresh fruit, like peaches and plums by glazing them with oil and searing until you have nice grill marks. Finish fruit with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, and serve it as dessert with ice cream. I like to chop grilled fruit and add red onions and jalapeño for a salsa to serve with grilled meat. This summer, I grilled strawberries and served them with whipped cream and balsamic vinegar for a really refreshing dessert that’s not too sweet.

When it comes to grilling, I prefer charcoal or wood because I like the smokiness that adds a dimension of flavor. However, the gas-fired grill can certainly be more convenient. You can still get that smoky flavor with a gas grill if you soak a piece of oak or fruit wood in water for at least 30 minutes, then partially wrap it in foil and place it on the grate.

Whether I’m grilling meat or vegetables, I don’t use a lot of marinades or dry rubs since I prefer to make simple sauces for the finished dish. One of my favorite sauces is pesto, made from fresh herbs from my garden. I also heat maple syrup until it becomes thick and sticky, and add a knob of butter to make a tasty glaze for pork, salmon or chicken. Use your favorite Mexican salsa to top grilled veggies or any smoky meat.

There are so many ways to finish your grilled masterpiece, but don’t feel obligated to get saucy. Fire has its own way of making food taste spectacular without the addition of anything (except salt, of course).

Get creative this summer by firing up the grill, and show your family and friends that you can serve up more than burgers and hotdogs. If you’re looking for some interesting sauces, here are two of my favorite recipes. Find more on, and happy grilling!


Grilled Cod with Salsa Verde 
Serves 4

There are a lot of variations for salsa verde, and this is one of my favorites.  In the summer when I have an abundance of fresh mint I add it to the mix.  If you’re in a hurry you can make the salsa in a food processor, but just pulse it so it doesn’t become smooth.  Of course, you can substitute the cod for fish that is in season.  Serve this with rice or potatoes, and some roasted cherry tomatoes, and you’ve got a beautiful plate of colorful goodness!

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, minced (including leaves)
  • 1 small tomatillo, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Four cod fillets, about 1” thick
Grilled Cod with Salsa Verde 

In a bowl, whisk together the shallot, garlic, parsley, cilantro, celery, tomatillo, capers, salt and pepper (to taste).

Brush the cod fillets with olive oil and add salt and pepper to both sides.  Sear over a hot grill, about 4 minutes on each side, until fish is firm and flaky in the center. (Alternatively, you can cook the cod in the broiler of your oven by placing cod on a broiler pan set 6” under the heating element, and cooking about 4 minutes on one side.  Turn fillets and cook another 4 minutes until done).  Cooking time depends on the thickness of your fish.  If they are thicker than 1” you might cook longer.

Place fish on platter and top with salsa verde.

Yellow Pepper Pesto

This is absolutely my favorite sauce recipe! The roasted yellow peppers add a sweetness that blends perfectly with the cilantro and Parmesan.  You can spoon this sauce on eggs, grilled meats or vegetables, or my favorite…..poured over corn chips and eaten like chips and salsa!

  • 2 large yellow bell peppers, grilled, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Yellow Pepper Pesto 

Place peppers, garlic, pine nuts, cilantro and cheese in a food processor and process until combined.  With the motor running, add the oil and process until emulsified and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Shannon Smith Profile Picture

About Author Shannon Smith

I’m Chef Shannon Smith, creator of, a website where I share my travel adventures, cooking experiences, jewelry creations, life stories, world travels, recipes, cooking classes, and jewelry art. In the past ten years, I’ve traveled to 52 countries, and I hope to add at least that many more over the next ten years. In every country, I am blessed to meet interesting people, learn new cultures, and try all kinds of delicious food. I take cooking classes, join food tours, meet with chefs, and often dine with people in their homes or restaurant kitchens. I’ve lived in Tulsa for over 30 years, and I love teaching people how to cook, especially dishes learned while traveling around the world. Some of my favorite cuisines are Indian, Moroccan, Turkish, Israeli, and Italian, although Indian is the cuisine that makes me the happiest. I’ve collected numerous recipes and methods for making delicious food, and I share those recipes on I teach classes several times a month when my travels allow. Those classes are advertised on the website but are almost always filled within hours after posting, so I also occasionally teach cooking classes to private groups. My readers and viewers get to learn about my cooking adventures, utensils and appliances. At last count, I have eight grills, two tagines, 22 knives, and ninety-four thousand serving dishes - at least according to my husband. My refrigerators are filled with nuts, cheese, and dried fruits I’ve brought from other countries. And my spice cabinets contain a menagerie of exotic and odiferous seeds, pods, and dried herbs that I use so many ways. Jewelry art is my other favorite activity. I create jewelry from beads and trinkets collected on my travels, including amber from Russia and Estonia, glass from Murano, Italy, paper beads from Rwanda, and old Yemen prayer capsules from Israel. I have an Indian friend who has some of the most beautiful semi-precious stones that he cuts into beautiful shapes. Several times a year, I attend national bead and jewelry shows where I search for unusual items to complete my creations. Many more adventures are planned for the future, and I’m excited to share them with you in my monthly column in Values Magazine, including recipes, cooking tips, interviews with my favorite Tulsa area chefs, cookbook recommendations, travel stories, my favorite local food trucks, and ways we can give our time and talents to our fantastic community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram at Chef Shannon.

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