Recipes for Memorial Day Bites at Your Barbecue

Memorial Day weekend is here and we know what that means – Barbecues!  Here are this year’s favorite BBQ recipes from the writing team at Jersey Bites to help you maneuver this festive holiday.  Visit the following link for more barbecue favorites from years past and Happy Memorial Day to all and a big Thank You to all of our Servicemen and Women.

Asian Whole Grilled Chicken – Veronique Deblois (Morris County)


  • 4 pound whole chicken
  • 12 ounce bottle of ginger salad dressing


  1. Wash the chicken under running water (remove bag with organs if inside the chicken). Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Lay chicken breast-side down on a cutting board.  With heavy-duty scissors, cut along each side of the chicken’s backbone, discarding bone when finished. Grabbing each side of the cut back, flatten chicken by cracking it open.
  3. Marinate flattened chicken in ginger salad dressing for 2 hours, then remove excess dressing with your hands.
  4. Heat gas grill to medium.  Lay chicken, breast-side up, on the grill, close the lid, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes. Flip chicken over using tongs and cook an additional 25 minutes on the breast side.
  5. Remove chicken from the grill once the internal temperature of the thickest part of the leg reaches 170 degrees on a meat thermometer, cooking in 5-minute intervals past the original 50 minutes until done. Tent cooked chicken with foil for 15 minutes on a platter to rest. Cut chicken in portion-size servings. Enjoy!

Notes: Feel free to substitute ginger dressing with Italian, Greek or other non-sugar based dressing for fun variations.

Italian BBQ Shrimp – Colleen Wood (Camden County)


  • 2 sticks butter melted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ packet of Italian Dressing seasoning
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 4 pound raw shrimp, peeled
  • freezer ziplock bag
  • bbq skewers

1. Add all seasonings and shrimp to ziplock bag, close and refrigerate for 2 hours.
2. Skewer shrimp and light the grill.
3. Cook skewers 3 minutes on each side or until opaque.
4. Can be served immediately or at room temperature. If done ahead of time, remember to remove from the refrigerator before serving so that butter is not solidified.

Grilled Summer Veggies – Kerry Brown (Burlington County)
Grilled summer vegetables are always a hit in my backyard. This is a favorite recipe from my go-to summer cookbook, Taming the Flame by Elizabeth Karmel. Make a big batch before guests arrive -they taste even better a few hours old. Any leftovers can be mixed with pasta and enjoyed, cold or hot,  the next day.

Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Heat
Soprano Sauce:
This robust sauce is made up of classic Italian ingredients. Brushed onto warm grilled vegetables, it makes them “sing” with flavor, thus the name.
6 anchovy fillets, drained and finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon capers, drained and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably from Tuscany
Grains of Paradise or white pepper, to taste
To make the Soprano Sauce: Combine the anchovies, garlic and capers in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season further with grains of paradise or pepper if desired. Set aside.

Prepare Vegetables:
Olive oil
Kosher salt
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut into long ½-inch wedges
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 bulb of fennel, cut in quarters
4 medium zucchini, each cut into 4 long slices
2 small radicchio, cut into quarters
1 large eggplant, cut into ½-inch rounds
4 small bunches green onions, trimmed
2 pints small, ripe cherry tomatoes, tossed in a bowl with a little oil

Lightly coat cut vegetables with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
One by one lay the vegetables and green onions directly on the cooking grate (You may need to do this in batches so the grill is not crowded.) Grill about 5-9 minutes, turning once halfway through the grilling time. As soon as vegetables are done, remove from grill and transfer to a platter: the zucchini, radicchio and green onions should be done first; the eggplant will take a little longer and the sweet potatoes and fennel will be the last to cook through. While they are still hot, brush liberally with the Soprano sauce so it is absorbed (this seasoning) by the hot vegetables.

When all the other vegetables are done, place the tomatoes onto the cooking grate to mark and warm through, about 2 minutes. Place onto the platter with the other vegetables and brush with Soprano sauce. Serve at room temperature with extra Soprano sauce on the side.

Japanese Garlic Marinade – Jennifer Malme (Cumberland County)

Asian flavors are a big hit in my house.  When the weather turns warm, it’s time to pull out the grill and make a big batch of this Japanese-style chicken.  Serve warm over brown rice or chill and chop up for a new twist on chicken salad!

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (you can substitute apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 T low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour over chicken (up to 2 pounds) and allow to marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.  Grill chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Savory Shrimp Dip -Christine Van Arsdalen (Somerset County)
Shrimp dip is a family favorite for holidays and special occasions.  It has been the highlight of barbeques, Christmases,  and family parties for over 50 years. To this day I still get both excited and hungry  watching my grandmother make it.  This recipe has been passed down from  generation to generation and it is absolutely delicious!

2 lbs of cooked shrimp
1 cup of Mayonaise
4 tsp grated onion
1 tsp tabasco sauce
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Light cream

Mince shrimp as small as possible.  Transfer shrimp to a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Thin with light cream until mixture is “dippable.” Chill until ready to use and serve with crackers.  Serves 16 people.
*Food processor may be used in place of mincing.

Watermelon Salad – Michele Errichetti (Atlantic County)

I LOVE summer! The freshest fruit and veggies! Yummy! This salad is always the hit of the party!  And it goes great with spicy wings or blackened fish or all by itself . It is very refreshing and the color is amazing!  It is a real attention grabber!


1 ripe watermelon preferably seedless
2-3 limes
1 bermuda onion
1 chunk of feta cheese
1 bunch of mint
½ cup of pitted black olives
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper

Cut the onion into thin rings and place in bowl with the  lime juice and let marinate . This will turn the onions  transparent and turn the juice pink. Cut the watermelon in half and remove the rind. Then cut the watermelon into squares and remove seeds.  Cut the feta into  small squares .  Chop mint .   Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Glass  or clear plastic really shows this salad off if you have one. Toss lightly with olives and olive oil and  finish with a generous  amount of black pepper.  Have a scrumptious Memorial Day ! Eat , drink and be merry!  In a responsible way of course!

Burger Quesadillas – Melissa Beveridge (Monmouth County)
I’m a huge fan of Mexican food and BBQs, this recipe combines the best of both worlds. For a spin on the traditional burger, make these hamburger quesadillas. They are perfect for bringing some Mexican flavors to BBQs! As a plus, you are combining two great entrees into one, no utensils required.


1 lb organic beef (makes 4 small patties or 2 larger patties)
½ red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
½ lb Shredded Pepper jack cheese
1 Avocado – sliced
Flour Tortillas (large)

Mix the chopped onion, jalapeno, cumin, paprika, cilantro, salt, and pepper with the beef. Be sure not to over mix. Form into four patties and make a small indentation with your thumb on the top of the burger.

Once the grill is hot, place the burgers thumbprint up and cook until just under desired level. (If you like your burgers cooked medium, cook a minute under.) While the burgers are cooking, warm up the tortillas on the grill. Cook 5-10 seconds on each side until they are pliable.

In the middle of the tortilla, place the cheese, sliced avocado, some salsa, and the burger. Wrap the burger up like a burrito (fold one side on top of the burger, fold in the sides, and then roll over onto the other side).

Place seam side down on the grill (a pan on the grill may help with this – just spray a little non stick cooking spray or a little oil on it to prevent sticking).  Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until each side is crispy like your favorite quesadilla.

When serving, you can garnish with more salsa, sour cream, and guacamole or just enjoy.

Hunt’s Grilled Bruscetta Chicken-Beth Christian (Burlington County)
While we are awaiting our fresh Jersey tomatoes, here is a recipe to get those tomato taste buds primed.  I tried this with Hunt’s tomatoes that I was sent to try, and it was delicious!

Pam or other non-stick spray to coat the grill before cooking
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing, divided
1/4 cup Hunt’s® Tomato Paste, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (5 oz each)
1 can (14.5 oz each) Hunt’s® Diced Tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 thick slices Italian bread
Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Spray grill with Pam or other non-stick spray and preheat to medium.
Stir together 1/4 cup dressing and 2 tablespoons tomato paste in small dish. Pour over chicken in small glass dish; cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.

Meanwhile, stir together drained tomatoes, remaining 1/4 cup dressing, remaining 2 tablespoons tomato paste, onions, basil and garlic. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Grill chicken 10 to 12 minutes or until no longer pink in centers (165°F), turning once. Just before chicken is done, grill bread 2 minutes on each side or until toasted. To serve, place bread on serving plates; top with chicken and tomato mixture. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese if desired

Gazpacho Chicken Salad – Kate Morgan Jackson, Bergen County

Memorial Day weekend is the time to rev up the grill for the season!  Here’s a quick and spicy chicken salad that combines all the flavors of your favorite chilled soup with some grilled chicken breast.  Here’s to summer!

4 chicken breast halves
Olive oil, salt and pepper for grilling
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
I lime, zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 pints cherry tomatoes or 6 regular tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced OR 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1. Brush chicken breasts lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through, 4-6 minutes per side. Cool and shred into bite-sized pieces.
2. Make dressing by combining 3 tablespoons oilve oil with lime zest, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Combine chicken, vegetables and parsley in large bowl. Pour dressing over all and toss well. Serve either chilled or at room temperature.

Grilled Chicken Burgers – Melissa Yurasits (Essex County)
My mom started making these chicken burgers about a year ago, and they’ve been a staple ever since. The recipe is healthy, tastes great, and easy to prepare after a long day at the beach.

1 pound ground chicken
½  package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess water
2/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 ½  tbsp Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp onion powder

Whole Wheat Buns
Tomato Slices
Romaine lettuce
Tzatziki sauce

In a large bowl, combine all burger ingredients using your hands or a rubber spatula. Season with salt and pepper and shape into patties. Grill over medium heat for about 6 minutes per side, or if using a meat thermometer, until temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Serve burger on lightly grilled whole wheat buns with a slice of tomato and romaine leaf. Garnish with 1 tbsp of tzatziki per burger.

The best part of this recipe is that it can be easily adapted to include your favorite ingredients. Swap feta for goat cheese, the oregano for any kind of dried Italian seasoning, garlic powder instead of onion, ranch dressing instead of tzatziki. I also like to make these gluten-free by eating it without the bun and omitting the breadcrumbs or using gluten-free ones, like Glutino’s. We love serving these with sweet potato fries on the side!

Summer Time Orzo – Sheila Hill (Monmouth County)
No barbecue is complete without a great salad to complement it. This one is light and pairs well with beef, pork, chicken or seafood.

1 pound dry orzo pasta
2 cups fresh spinach, torn into pieces
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
½ cup dried cranberries
8 fresh basil leaves, torn
½ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 carton cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook orzo according to al dente directions on the package. Drain pasta and spread out on a large cookie sheet to cool.
In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Toss gently to combine.
Add the orzo and mix well. Serve chilled.

Buy a block of feta and crumble it yourself. It will taste fresher than packaged, crumbled feta.
To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry saute pan over medium-low heat. Shake the pan frequently to ensure even browning. Since pine nuts are small and full of oil, they will burn quickly.