SOURCE: Vidalia Onion Committee

May 02, 2013 05:00 ET

Summer Soirees

Bring Friends Together Around the table

MISSION, KS--(Marketwired - May 2, 2013) - (Family Features) There are no better reasons for outdoor entertaining than good friends, good food and good weather.

"I've made a lot of friends around the table in my life," said Rebecca Lang, food writer, television personality and author of such cookbooks as "Around the Southern Table."

Lang's favorite dishes are those that are easy on the cook and incorporate Southern specialties, such as Vidalia onions. Whether you're planning for several dozen guests or inviting over a few close friends, impress them with delicious dishes in a comfortable setting.

Need a little inspiration to get the party started? Lang and other experts offer tips and recipes at www.flavors-of-summer.com. Have a crowd-pleasing recipe of your own? Visit the website to compete for a $1,000 prize or entertainment package valued at $5,000. Simply submit a recipe in the following four categories: Grilling Favorites; Salads, Sides, and Desserts; Marinades, Sauces, and Salsas; Outdoor Decorating and Entertaining, and get ready to celebrate. All entries must be received by August 15, 2013.

Tacos with Lime Marinated Vidalia Onions and Grilled Italian Sausages
Servings: 4 to 6

"Tacos loaded with color and flavor spice up a summertime cookout like nothing else," Lang said. "Arrange all the ingredients on a platter for tacos that are pretty and easy for guests to put together."

   
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch strips
1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch strips
2 Vidalia onions, sliced into half-moons
3 jalapeño peppers, sliced into very thin strips
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Cilantro
2 teaspoons Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 (19-ounce) package Johnsonville Italian Mild Sausage Links
10 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 Avocados from Mexico, sliced
5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
   

Combine bell peppers, onions and jalapeño peppers in large bowl. In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over bell pepper mixture. Marinate for 45 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium heat (about 350°F). Add sausages and grill, covered, 15 to 20 minutes, turning often, until browned and cooked through. Cool slightly and cut in half lengthwise.

Use slotted spoon to transfer bell pepper mixture to a grill basket. Grill over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until slightly charred. Discard marinade.

Grill tortillas until warm, about 1 minute per side.

Arrange a large platter with bell pepper mixture, sausages, avocados, goat cheese, tomatoes and tortillas. Serve with lime wedges.

Recipe submitted by Rebecca Lang, 2013

Salmon with Mango, Ginger and Vidalia Onions
Servings: 8

"Topping an impressive side of salmon with a refreshing blend of citrus-kissed mangos and Vidalia onions simply screams summertime," Lang said. "The fish can be served hot or cold, so it makes the rest of the menu a breeze."

   
2 mangos
2 Vidalia onions
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Gourmet Garden Ginger
1 (3-pound) whole side of wild salmon with skin
1 tablespoon olive oil
  Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  Lime wedges, optional
   

Peel and slice mangos into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Slice onions into 2 x 1/8-inch slices (julienne). Combine in large glass mixing bowl.

Whisk lime juice, lemon juice, honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and ginger in a small bowl. Pour over mango mixture. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Rub top of salmon with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill fish, skin side down (without flipping), over indirect heat for 16 to 18 minutes, or until easily flakes with fork. Use an extra large spatula or rimless baking sheet to gently lift salmon off the grill, leaving skin on the grill rack.

Stir mint into mango mixture. Allow salmon to cool for about 5 minutes. Use slotted spoon to top salmon with mango mixture, arranging down the center of the fish. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Recipe submitted by Rebecca Lang, 2013

Two Way Vidalia Onion Sliders with Toasted Pecan Mayonnaise
Servings: 8 (makes 16 sliders)

"These little burgers pack a big punch with both caramelized and grilled Vidalia onions," Lang said. "They're gloriously dressed up with blue cheese, fancy mayonnaise and pickled okra. Look for slider buns in your local bakery or bread section of larger grocery stores or use small dinner rolls."

   
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Vidalia onions, divided
1 pound lean ground beef (7% fat)
1 pound ground chuck (20% fat)
5 ounces crumbled blue cheese (1 1/4 cups)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
16 slider buns or round dinner rolls
24 pickled okra pods, sliced lengthwise in half
2 cups baby arugula
  Wooden picks, optional
   

Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, cayenne and paprika. Stir in pecans. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cut 1 onion into half-moons. Cook onion 18 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until caramel colored. Cool and chop into 1/2-inch pieces.

Preheat grill to medium heat.

Slice remaining onion into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Rub with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side, flipping carefully with spatula, or until softened and grill marked. Cut each slice into 3 or 4 wedges. Set aside.

Combine lean ground beef, ground chuck, blue cheese, caramelized onion, salt and pepper. Divide beef mixture into 16 equal portions (scant 1/3 cup each); gently shape each portion into 3/4-inch-thick patty.

Arrange patties on lightly oiled grill rack; grill 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Place buns, cut sides down, on grill rack. Grill for 1 minute or until toasted.

Spread about 1 teaspoon mayonnaise on bottom half of each bun; top with 1 patty. Top each slider with another teaspoon mayonnaise, grilled onion wedge, pickled okra halves, and about 2 tablespoons arugula. Top with bun tops. Secure with wooden picks, if desired.

Recipe submitted by Rebecca Lang, 2013

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