One of the nicest things about summer is the chance to get
the family together–between bouts of gardening and
putting up produce–for occasional picnics and
cookouts. It’s easy, however, when planning the menu for an
outdoor dinner, to stick (by force of habit) with such
familiar favorites as fried chicken, charcoal-broiled
steak, deviled eggs, potato salad, and cole slaw. Now as
popular as the old standards may be, it’s often fun to
surprise your relatives and friends with a few unexpected
gourmet dishes … or even with a whole menu of “special”
When MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ staff set off in search of a unique, delicious,
and nutritious meal for a summer cookout, we turned to our
old friend Deborah Dunn, of the Herb Garden Cafe in our home base of Hendersonville, North Carolina.
And Deborah, with her usual flair, produced a mouthwatering
fish bake. It consisted of baked trout, stuffed tomatoes,
marinated mushrooms, and brandied peaches. Better still
(considering how busy summer can be), it’s a meal
that–except for the fish, which is tastiest when
caught fresh from a mountain stream–can be prepared
A Recipe Schedule
Start your woodland banquet for four, during the evening
prior to the excursion, by mixing 1 pound of sliced fresh
mushrooms, 2 teaspoons of tamari (soy sauce), 3 chopped
cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, 2 tablespoons of
minced fresh parsley, 1/4 cup of water, the juice of 2
lemons, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and 1/2 cup of safflower oil.
Let the dish marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day–a few hours prior to the cookout–slice up
6 fresh, ripe peaches and combine them with 1/2 cup of
honey, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of
brandy. Refrigerate the dessert and let the various flavors
mingle until you’re ready to serve it.
When chowtime is approximately an hour away, fire up your
charcoal grill. Now, wash 6 large tomatoes (to allow
seconds for the hungriest diners) and place them in boiling
water for 1 minute. Then drain them, drop the fruits into
cold water, and carefully remove their skins. With that
done, slice each tomato (keep the stem side up) into four
wedges, cutting almost to–and not through–the
bottom. Spread the sections slightly apart sprinkle the
inner surfaces with a bit of salt, cover the tomatoes, and place them in a cooler.
For the filling, dice 1/2 of a cucumber, 1/2 of a green
pepper, 2 stalks of celery, 3 scallions, and 1 bunch of
fresh parsley. Then add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/7 teaspoon
of cayenne, 1 teaspoon of basil, 1/8 teaspoon of granulated
garlic, and 2 cups of cottage cheese. When you’re ready to
eat, spoon the mixture into the tomato shells, and top them
with black olives.
The Main Course
By this time, Deborah assumes that you have caught (or
bought, if the fish aren’t biting) 4 trout, each about
11 to 14 inches in length. Once the trout are cleaned,
place four lemon wedges (or try orange wedges for a
deliciously different flavor) in the cavity of each fish.
Sprinkle the inside with fresh parsley and curry powder,
season the trout–both inside and out–with salt
and pepper, and coat them generously with butter.
Wrap the fish individually in heavy-duty aluminum foil
and–once the charcoal fire has burned down–set
them on the grill to cook for about 5 minutes on each side,
or until the meat flakes easily Serve with more lemon
This fish bake-in-the-forest (or wherever you choose to
enjoy it) is sure to turn a casual summer picnic into
culinary event that you’ll remember for long time to come.