I love this time of year. Daylight last longer, the temperature warms up, and in the evening the glorious scent of grilling fills the neighborhood air. Everyone wishes they had a day job working outside and being stuck inside an office makes us all feel like school children wishing for summer break.
Runs tend to go for longer given the pristine conditions and you’d be hard pressed to find any free tennis courts on a weekday night. More than any other season; we yearn for the weekends to bask in the sunshine filled days we missed during the work week and lounge at the nearest body of water possible.
Weeknight dinners outdoors make us all feel like for a brief second we are vacationing. A chill glass of white wine or a cold corona and fresh lime slice, all sounds so much better when it is being consumed on a porch or patio.
The backyard of my parents’ house in Connecticut has these breathtakingly beautiful blue hydrangea bushes, my absolute favorite flower. Sitting by them outside, with a tall glass of something refreshing, skimming through the latest issue of Bon Appétit is what I dream of doing right now, as I sit inside my stuffy office building.
But thankfully across the street from my windowless work environment, there is an almost as equally stunning garden, with a colorful landscape and several benches removed from plain view. One of these corner benches is under a large tree, out of sight from the tourists walking through and within eye view of the beautiful flowers.
Even if I just can take 10 minutes to go outside, at some point during the day, I try to and pretend it is my private garden. And in my random moment of solitude, amid the glorious weather, a child runs across the way crying, as a mother chases her down. It is at that moment that I am keenly reminded, no Alex, this is not your garden.
At least after work I can come home to my own “borrowed garden” courtesy of my landlords. The recipe below is a fresh and flavorful way to add your own grilling to the neighborhood mix. And hopefully during the cooking process, you are surrounded by some lovely outdoor scenery, with a cold beverage in hand.
Grilled Pork and Pineapple with Black Bean Avocado Salad
4 pork chops (about 1/2-inch thick)
salt and pepper
one pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into half circle slices
Black Bean Avocado Salad:
15 oz. can black beans, drained
small red onion, chopped
2 ripe avocados, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup cooked corn kernels (from 2 ears)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
juice of one lime
two dashes hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
salt and pepper
In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Make sure to not over mix, as you do not want to mash-up the avocado. Taste for spice and salt and pepper, and adjust to your liking.
Preheat an outdoor grill or a grill pan to medium heat. Season the pork chops on each side with salt and pepper, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and garlic powder. Grill the pork chops 5 to 6 minutes per side or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 145 degrees F. Remove the pork chops from the grill and let sit for 5 minutes.
Grill the pineapple slices for a couple 2-3 minutes per side.
Place the grilled pork and pineapple on a platter. Spoon some of the black bean avocado salad over everything, and serve the rest of the salad on the side.