Creamy Polenta with Grilled Mushrooms
Creamy polenta with grilled mushrooms (Photo: William Hereford/Excerpted from Green Fire, by Francis Mallmann, Artisan Books. Copyright 2022.)

5 Summer Recipes Perfect for Outdoor Cooking

From a creamy pasta main to a chard-corn side, we’ve rounded up some of the best meals to enjoy in the outdoors

Creamy Polenta with Grilled Mushrooms

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Whether you’re looking for your next camping meal, a dish to impress guests, or a grill-able side to round out dinner, we’ve got you covered with these five recipes to make while out in the open air.

1. Dutch-Oven Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 sweet Italian sausage links
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced
  • 2 green bell peppers, cored and sliced
  • 2 yellow or orange bell peppers, cored and sliced
  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 baguettes
  • Ground pepper


Over medium-high heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil to a Dutch oven and heat until rippling but not smoking. Add and brown the sausages on all sides, then remove and set aside.

In the same pot, pour in the remaining oil, then add the peppers and onions with a grind of fresh pepper. Sauté for about three minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and salt, and stir. Let cook for one minute. Add the wine and deglaze, scraping the brown bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Return the sausages and add the chicken stock. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring from the bottom every five minutes, until the liquid evaporates and the sausages are cooked through. Halve the baguettes and warm them quickly on a grill top or cast-iron pan. Serve alongside the sausages and peppers. —Hannah Selinger

2. Skillet Chicken and Orzo

Serves 4


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons salt, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into small cubes
  • 8 ounces sliced white button mushrooms
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 ounces orzo
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • 4 ounces whole grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter


Season chicken breasts with one tablespoon each of salt and ground pepper. In a medium-size iron skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the skillet, cooking it for about eight minutes until thoroughly brown on one side. Flip and repeat, then transfer the chicken to a clean plate.

Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and bring to medium heat. Add the cubed onion and cook for about two minutes, stirring until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms and thyme, and continue to cook until the mushrooms have just browned and released some moisture. Season with salt and pepper. Add the orzo, and stir to coat. Pour in the wine, and stir until the liquid has evaporated, about two minutes. Add the broth half a cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting it absorb before adding more. Keep doing this until the orzo is tender and the broth is mostly absorbed, about eight to ten minutes.

When the orzo has started to become creamy, add the tomatoes and a little more of the broth, allowing the tomatoes to cook but not pop. Taste the dish for seasoning and remove from heat. Add the butter and stir until it has just melted. Nestle the cooked chicken back into the orzo, and serve from the skillet. —Hannah Selinger

3. Creamy Polenta with Grilled Mushrooms

Serves 4


  • 5 cups whole milk (or half milk, half water), plus more if needed
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for the grill
  • 1½ cups medium or coarse polenta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan or cheddar cheese
  • 1¼ pounds cleaned and trimmed mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, portobello, or oyster
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A large handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


Set a cast-iron pot or Dutch oven on a grill over medium-high heat. Add milk and two tablespoons of olive oil, and bring to a boil. Gradually stir in the polenta, continuing to stir as it thickens. Lower the heat, and cook the polenta at a gentle bubble, stirring every few minutes and adding more milk or water if needed, until the polenta is smooth, thick, and creamy but still quite moist, about 20 minutes. Remove the pot or Dutch oven from the heat and, with a wooden spoon, beat in the butter, then the cheese. Cover and keep warm, stirring occasionally, and add hot milk or water by the spoonful if necessary while you grill the mushrooms.

If using oyster mushrooms, break up any extra-large clumps. Place the garlic in a bowl with the parsley. Stir in the remaining olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes, if desired. Brush a hot grill grate with oil and add the mushrooms in a single layer, in batches if necessary. Cook over high heat until nicely browned, about two minutes. Baste with the oil from the garlic and parsley mixture, then turn and cook on the other side until the mushrooms are tender and juicy when pierced with a fork, about two minutes longer. When they are done, transfer them back to the bowl with the garlic and parsley. If using whole portobellos, cut them in half or quarter them with scissors over the bowl to catch the juices. Toss the mushrooms with the garlic and parsley mixture, adding more oil if desired. Spoon the mixture over bowls of warm polenta, and serve immediately.

Excerpted from Green Fire, by Francis Mallmann (Artisan Books). Copyright 2022.

4. Roasted Corn with Wild Greens Pesto (Wagmíza na Wathˇóthˇo yužápi)

Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 cups wild greens (sorrel, dandelion, purslane, lamb’s-quarter, wild mint, or mustard)
  • 1 wild onion, chopped, or ¼ cup chopped shallot
  • ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • Sunflower or hazelnut oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of maple syrup
  • 4 to 6 large ears of fresh sweet corn


Make the pesto by pounding together the greens, onion or shallot, and sunflower seeds with a mortar and pestle, or by mixing in a food processor with a steel blade. Slowly work in two-thirds to three-fourths of a cup of oil, and season to taste with salt and a little maple syrup. Prepare a hot charcoal grill or preheat the broiler to high. Shuck the corn and rub lightly with oil. Set the corn directly on the grill or under the broiler and roast, rolling the ears occasionally until all sides are nicely browned, about five to seven minutes. Serve with dollops of pesto.

From The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Copyright 2017 Ghost Dancer. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

5. Campfire Beef Stew with Buttered Parsley Noodles

Serves 4


For the stew

  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into large chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup pancake mix (or all-purpose flour), plus more for thickening stew if needed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can diced canned tomatoes
  • 12 small to medium carrots (cut into large chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or one sprig of fresh rosemary)
  • 1½ cups dry red wine
  • 1 14.5-fluid-ounce can beef broth

For the buttered noodles

  • 12 ounces dried egg noodles
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ cup chopped parsley


Season the beef with salt and pepper. Toss the beef in the pancake mix (or flour) until all the pieces are lightly coated. In a large pan over medium-high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Sear the beef until browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.

To the pan, add the garlic and onion. Cook for about five minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, carrots, herbs, wine, broth, and beef. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for up to two hours, until the beef is tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the egg noodles by boiling them according to the package instructions in a pot of salted water. Toss the cooked noodles with the butter and parsley, and serve with the stew. —Kaitlin and Sarah Leung of The Woks of Life blog

Lead Photo: William Hereford/Excerpted from Green Fire, by Francis Mallmann, Artisan Books. Copyright 2022.

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