I love summer!  It’s my favorite time of year – the produce is amazing, my kids are home, and I smell sunscreen and saltwater every time I hug them.  I even love the pile of wet towels that I am constantly washing and the sand that is always in the couch.

Ironically, even though the produce is the best of the year, I find cooking in the summer super challenging.  It’s too hot to turn on the stove, let alone the oven, and I’m usually scrambling to make dinner after swim team or time at the beach. Plus, everyone is usually hungry for comfort food, since they have been running hard all day.

My answer to the challenge is Summer Chili.  It’s super healthy, is cooked entirely on the grill, and goes together in 30 minutes.  You can even make it in less time if you chop the vegetables in advance. Best of all, it highlights the best of summer veggies in a hearty way.

Steak and Zucchini Chili

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs flank steak(you can also use bison), cut into strips

2 medium sized zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds

1/2 purple onion, coarsely chopped into 1/2″ pieces

1 heirloom tomato, cored and cut into 16 wedges

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp salt

1/4 c fresh Genovese basil OR Sweet basil or oregano, chopped

1/4 c. plain whole milk yogurt or sour cream

1/4 c. “Mexican Blend” shredded cheese

Directions:

Turn on your gas grill to and let it heat up to medium high.

Drizzle meat with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and let rest until the grill comes to heat.  You can, of course, do this step the night before or add a favorite rub(we love Monterey Steak Seasoning), but it will taste really good without either of these steps.

Grill the meat for 5-7 minutes, then turn the meat to the other side and let cook for another 5 minutes.  The meat should be well-browned, as you will be chopping into smaller pieces in a coming step.

Remove the meat from heat and let rest for 10 minutes under a foil “tent”.

While the meat is resting, placed the chopped zucchini and onions on a thick piece of foil(doubled if necessary), drizzle with 1Tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp of salt.  Place foil on a vegetable grill tray, if you have one, otherwise place the foil directly on the grill.  Grill covered for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and grill for another 8-10 minutes.  Vegetables should still appear fresh and brightly colored when done, although you should see some browned zucchini and onions at the edges of the tray.

When done, remove from heat and add to a large serving bowl.  Take the meat and chop it into bite-sized pieces, then add it to the serving bowl.  Mix the meat and vegetables with a large spoon.  It is important that the veggies still be relatively hot while you are mixing, as this will allow you to push the vegetable pieces against the sides of the bowl to make them smaller and blend the flavors with the meat. Add the chopped basil to the bowl and mix well.

To top your chili, I highly recommend plain whole milk yogurt, but sour cream will work as well.  The mellowness of the yogurt works really well with the basil, while adding a nice tang.  You could also use cashew cheese as a tasty non-dairy substitute.

Do you have any healthy summer comfort food favorites? I would love to hear about them, so add a link in the comments below!