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Six recipes to take your backyard BBQ from boring to best-ever (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Backyard summer gatherings are what we’ve been waiting for. Celebrate the start of summer in the most delicious ways with these recipes inspired by the very herbs you have growing wildly in your backyard or found locally at your favorite farm stand. From growing up with fresh herb plants always in the kitchen to attending culinary school, the lesson was always the same — a touch of fresh herbs is the simplest way to elevate any dish, casual backyard get together included. 

A twist on a classic and dessert to please a crowd, these recipes are meant to ignite the spark for a season full of fresh herbs, sweet fruit and good company!

Strawberry elderflower spritz (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Every good barbecue must start with a cold refreshment! This one is pretty to look at and tastes delicious, with or without the alcohol. 

Strawberry elderflower spritz

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 doz fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced, plus whole berries for serving
  • 2 tbsp superfine sugar
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
  • 1 750-mL bottle of Belvoir Elderflower Lemonade
  • 4 oz elderflower liquer (optional)
  • 1 bottle prosecco (optional)
  • chamomile flowers for garnish
  • mint for garnish

Directions

  • Muddle strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and elderflower liqueur (optional) in a pitcher until fruits break down and sugar has dissolved. 
  • Add one bottle of the Belvoir Elderflower Lemonade (this can be found on Amazon or in specialty grocery stores, but a simple lemonade will do here as well). 
  • Fill glasses with ice a little more than halfway. Pour the strawberry beverage into each glass, leaving room on top. Top off with prosecco (optional). 
  • Garnish with a fresh strawberry, mint and chamomile flowers. 
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Chive lemon vinaigrette lobster rolls (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Taking a risk here by revamping a classic summertime favorite — but how can we go wrong with fresh, juicy lobster meat and bright lemon? Layer in fresh-cut herbs and perhaps we have a new favorite. NO BUNS? No problem — the dressed lobster meat can be the main attraction in a summer salad over fresh greens. 

Chive lemon vinaigrette lobster rolls

Serves 6 people

Ingredients

  • 4 1 1/4 lb live lobsters
  • kosher salt for boiling water
  • 6 brioche hot dog buns, top split
  • 1/2 stick of butter

Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated shallots
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • sea salt to taste

Directions

  • Bring a large sauce pot full of salted water to a boil. Place lobsters into it, two at a time, head first. Cook for about 8 minutes from the time they enter the water. Transfer with tongs to an ice bath and cool. Return water to a boil and cook and cool the remaining lobsters. 
  • Set lobsters on a cutting board and start with the tail when removing meat from the shells. Remove all meat from tail, claws and joints. (Pro tip: save carcasses to make a lobster stock.) 
  • Coarsely chop the meat. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. 
  • Add lobster and gently toss, season with sea salt. 
  • Brush the inside of the buns with butter. Grill, buttered side down until golden. 
  • Fill the buns with lobster salad, sprinkle with chives and enjoy! 
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Grilled potato and string bean salad with mustard seed herb vinaigrette (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Because of the smoky char on the potatoes, this salad is a barbecue crowd pleaser. Tossed with grainy mustard, olive oil and lots of torn herbs, it’s easy-breezy, as summer salads should be. 

Grilled potato and string bean salad with mustard seed herb vinaigrette

Serves 6 people

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs new potatoes or fingerling potatoes, washed and halved or quartered 
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed and left whole

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
  • 3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsely
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest and juice from one large lemon
  • big handful of basil, torn into small pieces for garnish
  • Nasturtium flowers for garnish, if available

Directions

  • In a large pot, cover the potatoes with cold water and season them generously with kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then lower a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are almost tender but not completely cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Let cool. 
  • Return the water to a boil and blanch the string beans for 3 minutes, then transfer to an ice bath. This helps to retain the vibrant color and crispness. Strain and place in a separate bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Let cool. 
  • Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a separate bowl. 
  • Heat the grill to medium-high. Using a grill tray or basket, arrange the potatoes in a single layer, cut side down. Cook until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. 
  • Remove the potatoes, placing them back in the same bowl they were in. 
  • Place potatoes and green beans in a large serving bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette. 
  • Top with torn basil and Nasturtium flowers, if available. 
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Herby chimichurri with grilled steak (Photo credit: David Benthal)

A well-seasoned steak may not need much, but this is the sauce you never thought you needed. Fresh herbs brighten the steak and the acidity cuts into the fat beautifully. What I love most about this recipe is that it utilizes simple pantry staples and is the perfect solution for those herbs that are growing like crazy. 

Herby chimichurri with grilled steak

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs skirt skeak
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Maldon sea salt to taste

Herby Chimichurri

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves (can sub 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped finely for color
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Finely chop the parsley, cilantro, fresh oregano and garlic (or process in a food processor for several pulses). Place in a small bowl. 
  • Stir in the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Adjust seasonings to taste. 
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a week. Always return to room temperature before serving. 
  • Season skirt steak well with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt. 
  • Grill for 3 minutes on each side over high heat to give it the caramelized char on the outside and juicy center. 
  • Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt before serving and serve with chimichurri sauce.
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Lemon basil brined BBQ chicken (Photo credit: David Benthal)

We are going heavy on the herbs with this recipe and the result of the brine is a spectacularly moist and flavorful herbaceous chicken. Cover the final dish with an excess of herbs and serve! 

Lemon basil brined BBQ chicken

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken cut in 10 pieces of 4 lbs. of skin-on chicken pieces
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • basil for garnish, torn
  • parsley for garlish, rouhgly chopped

Brine

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/8 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 4 lemons for garnish

Directions

  • Place all brine ingredints into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the salt. Reduce the heat to a low boil for 2 minutes. 
  • Remove from the heat and let cool. 
  • Place the chicken pieces into a covered bowl or zip-close bag and cover with the brine. 
  • Refrigerate about 3 hours. 
  • Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Always season again before grilling with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 
  • Very lightly oil the skin with olive oil, then grill, skin side down for 7 or 8 minutes to get a nice char. 
  • Turn and let cook 10 or 12 more minutes until the internal temperature is 165°F. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Cut the 3 lemons in half and grill them cut side down. 
  • Serve chicken on a wooden board or platter. Garnish with grilled lemon and lots of torn herbs. 
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North Fork berry and basil Pavlova (Photo credit: David Benthal)

The start of summer on the North Fork is synonymous with local berry picking. I’m always thinking of the perfect way to incorporate my berry haul into a stunning dessert, and I love how this recipe marries delicate berries with sweet basil. This dessert is undeniably the centerpiece of your barbecue and is sure to become everyone’s favorite warm-weather party staple. Love to garnish? You can go crazy decorating this beauty! 

North Fork berry and basil Pavlova

Serves 6 people

Ingredients

Meringue

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp white-wine vinegar

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 2 1/2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Fruit Topping

  • 2 cups washed and hulled berries (can be a varietyof in season berries)
  • 1 handful of baby basil leaves
  • Fabbri Wild Strawberry Sauce (optional; available online or at specialty stores)

Directions

One day in advance

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • In a bowl with an electric mixer, combine egg whites and salt. Begin beating at low speed, slowly increasing to high. Continue until peaks begin to form; gradually beat in sugar and cream of tartar. Meringue should be stiff and shiny. Add cornstarch and white wine vinegar and mix gently to incorporate. 
  • Spoon onto parchment, creating an 8-to-9-inch circle shape or disc. Build the sides higher than the middle and smooth out sides with a knife. 
  • Place in oven, and immediately reduce heat to 180 degrees. Bake 1.5 hours. Turn off heat and allow the meringue to cool completely in oven overnight. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. 

Day of

  • Prepare the whipped cream: Place the mixing bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. 
  • Whip the cream using a hand mixer or whisk. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Be careful not to over-beat. 
  • When ready to serve, carefully peel off the parchment and place the meringue on a platter or cake stand. Spoon the fresh whipped cream into the middle of the meringue disk. Top with berries and basil. 
  • For additional color and flavor, you can drizzle and splatter the top of the Pavlova with Fabbri Wild Strawberry Sauce — or homemade strawberry sauce, of course! 
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