I am a big fan of cooking out when friends stop by for dinner, whether it's a weeknight or a Friday night. My favorite trick for making this possible is to have guests build their own dinners. Grilled grain bowls are an easy way to pull this off.
Think of grilled grain bowls as the grown-up version of the hobo packets you might have made at sleep-away camp. Essentially everyone builds their own packet of uncooked quinoa, chopped vegetables, and shrimp, and then the packets are wrapped up and cooked on the grill. It's pure summer comfort food by way of the grill. Drizzled with a creamy herb sauce and prepped in just a few minutes, you'll be making these regularly — guests or not.
Layering is the Key to Great Grilled Grain Bowls
When you're cooking in a packet, layering is key to ensuring that everything is cooked correctly at the same time. Here the uncooked quinoa goes into the packet first, followed by the vegetables and finally the shrimp. In this order, the quinoa is closest to the heat and gets the most broth around it, and the shrimp steams at the top of the packet.
Situational Summer Suppers
We've been there and we know you're going to be there too: a fridge full of summer produce just waiting for the perfect cooking situation. Whether you're heading out the door for a road trip, avoiding the stove during a heatwave, or having friends over on short notice, these simple, thoughtful meals have been designed to help you — and your cooking — thrive this summer.
Grilled Shrimp and Vegetable Grain Bowls
For the packets:
2 cups red quinoa
1 1/2 pounds large (21 to 25 per pound) shrimp, thawed if frozen, peeled, and deveined
1 medium zucchini, large dice
1 medium summer squash, large dice
2 cups corn kernels (from 2 ears)
1 medium red bell pepper, large dice
8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed
4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium vegetable broth
For the white sauce:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, or mint
Make the packets: Heat half of a gas grill to medium-high heat (350°F), or prepare a chimney's worth of charcoal and fill half of your charcoal grill with lit charcoal. Cover and heat for 30 minutes for a charcoal grill, or 15 minutes for a gas grill. Meanwhile, prepare the packets.
Tear 16 (16-inch-long) sheets of aluminum foil. Stack 1 sheet on top of a second sheet. Repeat so you have 8 (2-sheet) sets. The double layers will help protect the ingredients on the bottom from burning.
Spray the center of the top sheet of each foil set with cooking spray. Place 1/4 cup of quinoa on the center of each packet. Divide the shrimp evenly over the quinoa.
Let guests add their own vegetables, being sure that the vegetables sit on top of the quinoa and shrimp. Add 1/2 cup of broth to each packet.
Fold the sides of the foil over the vegetables, then fold the top and bottom of the foil over the vegetables, making sure the packets are completely sealed. Move the packets to a baking sheet for easier transport to the grill.
Place the packets on the grill grates over indirect heat. Cover and grill until the quinoa is tender and the vegetables and shrimp are cooked, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.
Make the sauce: Whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, and garlic together in a small bowl until smooth. Fold in the herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve the packets with the sauce.
- Make ahead: The packets can be assembled and refrigerated 12 hours in advance. Add the broth just before grilling.
- Storage: Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days.