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Marinades

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I avoid turning my stove on during the hot summer months. It is much easier to do most of my cooking on the grill and keep all that heat outside -- where it belongs. Grilled meats and vegetables are delicious, quick to prepare, and healthy. Paired alongside a salad, they make for a very satisfying meal, and, if you happen to have any extra, pack up easily to take to work the following day. Sometimes a little salt and pepper is all you're looking for, but if you want to kick up the flavor, marinades and rubs can transform a piece of meat (or even some extra firm tofu) into something extraordinary.

Marinades serve a few functions. They add flavor, they tenderize (the acids they contain denature the proteins) they can be used for basting and, if you've thought ahead and reserved some before exposing it to the raw protein, they can serve as sauces. And here's another thing: they are really easy to make.

Following are a couple of my favorites:

Tarragon Marinade
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, add in protein of your choice (I like to use chicken thighs) and stir to coat well. Marinate for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. Grill.

Tequila Lime Marinade
3 TBSP lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
2 TBSP tequila
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a zip-lock baggie. Add in the protein of your choice (I like to use pork tenderloin). Marinate for up to 6 hours. Grill.

Ginger-Tamarind Marinade
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 TBSP lemon juice
4 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
¼ cup tamarind paste
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a zip-lock baggie. Add in the protein of your choice (I like to use beef tenderloin). Marinate for up to 6 hours. Grill.

Herbs, spices, oils, acids, condiments....Once you get the hang of this, the flavor combinations are limitless. So open your fridge, your pantry, your spice cabinet and give it a try!

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