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4 healthy cookout recipes for the 4th of July

Wednesday - 7/3/2013, 1:02pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Ahh -- The Fourth of July. A classic American holiday centered around summer, celebrations and food. And while burgers and dogs are the classic cookout fare, some WTOP staffers and reporters are hoping you'll try their healthier cookout options.

Neal Augenstein's Grilled Vegetables

Get your cookout started off right with this healthy dish. You can serve it as a side or as the main dish at your barbecue.

Equipment:

  • Grill
  • Steel grill pan with small holes
  • Tongs

Ingredients:

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 vidalia onion
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Slice peppers and onions into strips.
  2. Slice half-inch rounds of zucchini and squash.
  3. Break cauliflower into largish sprigs.
  4. In large mixing bowl, generously coat vegetables with olive oil. Then add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.
  5. Over high heat, spread the vegetables on the grill pan and cook them until they are slightly charred.

Joan Jones' Patriotic Fruit and Dip

This fresh and easy recipe is perfect for hot, summer days. Plus, it's colors are perfectly patriotic for the Fourth!

This quick and easy dish is both healthy and patriotic. (Courtesy Joan Jones)

Ingredients:

  • Amaretto
  • Marshmallow fluff
  • Whipped cream cheese
  • 2 quarts of fresh strawberries
  • 1 quart of fresh blueberries

Directions:

  1. Wash the fresh fruit and cut the tops off the strawberries.
  2. Mix together equal parts whipped cream cheese and marshmallow fluff. Add a dash or two of Amoretto (optional) for extra flavor.
  3. Have toothpicks handy and dig in!

Rachel Nania's Italian Lentil Salad

This rustic salad is a great way to serve up some protein off the grill. (Courtesy Rachel Nania)

Looking for an alternative source of protien at your cookout? Lentils are a great option! All you need to do for this delicious dish is cook some lentils, chop some veggies and toss it all together. It's always a hit at parties.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small/medium zucchini
  • 6 small/medium yellow tomatoes
  • 1 quart red cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella balls (a small container)
  • Green onion (a small bunch)
  • Olives (pick your favorite variety)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Black lentils

Directions:

  1. Cut the zucchini length-wise. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill the zucchini on a grill pan on an outdoor grill until lightly charred and set aside.
  2. Cook 1 cups of dried, black lentils with 6 cups of water. (This amount of lentils serves about 8 people, so adjust based on your party and your package instructions.) Be very careful not to cook the lentils too long. For the salad, you want them to have a bit of crunch or "bite" to them. After they are done cooking, drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water and set them aside.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes, the zucchini, the olives, the green onion, two handfuls of basil (or more!) and the mozzarella. I like more "rustic" chops for this salad -- there's nothing like taking a big bite of a fresh veggie!
  4. Add all the chopped goodies to the lentils. Then, toss the lentils and veggies with a generous drizzle of olive oil and balsamic. Taste it. Continue to add in the oil and vinegar until the salad is dressed to your taste (I used about 4 tablespoons of oil and probably 2 or 2.5 of vinegar). Don't be hesitant to overdress. Season the salad with sea salt and serve immediately or let the salad marinate in its dressing overnight.

Jim and Johanna Farley's Marinated Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Johanna Farley adapted this recipe from a package of mushrooms several years ago. Since then, this recipe has become a favorite with the Farleys.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on mushrooms
  • 2 large branches rosemary (or 1 small package fresh rosemary)
  • l bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 limes
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Brush both sides of mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt and finely ground fresh black pepper.
  2. Grill over medium heat approximately 3 minutes per each side. Remove to a shallow dish and let mushrooms cool.
  3. In a mini food processor, chop the garlic and shallot. Scrape down the sides and add rosemary leaves and enough stemmed parsley (about five or six stems) to yield about 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Then, chop the parsley in the food processor.
  4. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, the juice of 2 limes and freshly ground black pepper to the food processor. Scrape down sides again and pulse until well blended.
  5. Pour the mixture over and under the mushrooms in dish and marinate them for at least one hour in the refrigerator, stirring once halfway through. (The mushrooms can be marinated for up to eight hours.)
  6. Bring the mushrooms to room temperature and serve, decorated with leftover parsley branches, if desired.

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