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Jul 6, 2010 09:03 AM

What do you cook at the beach?

We're headed off to the beach soon for a week of sun and surf. We'll be sharing the house with another family and there will be 12 of us. About a third of the folks don't like seafood (crazy right?), and some are picky eaters who don't like "fancy" food. I typically will stop at the farmers market on my way there and pick up lots of corn, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, etc. I plan to buy some fresh shrimp and crabs and have a simple boil-like meal of southern shrimp (if you haven't had these they're amazing - new orlean's style peel n' eats), crabs, corn-on-the-cob and grilled chicken and veggies. Someone usually does a lasagna, maybe some chicken divan another night.

What are your go-to dishes at the beach? And what ingredients & kitchen tools do you always pack to take along? Feel free to post recipes! ;-)

Southern "Barbecue" Shrimp recipe here:

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  1. And if possible, to make the bbq shrimp even better, get them head on and cook them whole.

    1. I like to pack as light as possible for the beach, and it's usually just me and 3 or 4 friends. I will usually take my mini round Weber grill, tongs, and things that can be pre-prepped and don't require a lot of accoutrements like sausages, marinated chicken or fish, etc. One of my favorites is to take a cooked crab marinated in olive oil and vinegar with some herbs and throw it on the grill to heat up. Pre-sliced eggplant, portabello mushroom, corn, etc, all in simple oil/vinegar/herb/spice marinades. Or smaller veggies on bamboo skewers. I play with the combinations. The beach is just about the only place I use a marinade, though.

      Once I pre-prepared a bunch of personal pizzas to grill them. That was fun, but it was too hard to carry them out there because of the quantity of things to keep separated and cool. Anything that you have to cut after cooking is ruled out for me, since I would have to bring a knife and a cutting board, then something to put it in afterward that wouldn't be touching anything else since it would be messy, etc.

      It sounds like your beach trips are a little more infrequent and special than mine though, as I live about 30 mins away from a number of beaches. My trips to the beach are usually just for the day or a few hours and we don't have a house near enough to bring things that require much refrigeration and lugging a packed cooler across 300-400 yards of sand is really annoying!

      1. My sister rents a house at the beach every year in August and one thing that works well for a group is fajitas (steak and/or chicken). You can cook the steak and/or chicken and peppers and put out all the fixin's (tortillas, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, sour cream, etc) for everyone to assemble the way they like it.

        Another one is the same concept but more of a greek/mediterranean theme. Tzatziki, hummus, pita, etc. with steak and/or chicken.

        And the leftovers make for good lunches during the week.

        2 Replies
        1. re: valerie

          When we RV we park at beaches. I do fajitas a lot, so easy to prep ahead by marinating your choice of protein and vegetables in ziploc bags. I even freeze them, then use them as ice blocks in the cooler, until I can pack them in the freezer. Also do bul gogi or kalbi on the grill a lot, which is sesame marinated boneless beef short ribs. Very easy and tasty. We also take some seasoned steaks, chicken cutlets in white wine vinegar, oil & herbs, and of course, premade hamburgers and packs of hot dogs for the kids.

          Don't forget to pack some mac & cheese, cans of soup, pasta, cereals, & some baking potatoes for easy meals. I also bring premade corn bread and brownies, or some other sweet usually,and of course, stuff for s'mores.

          1. re: valerie

            Fajitas and gyros are great ideas!

          2. i like to bring slow cookers or crock pots (i know despite the heat) to these types of vacations, just because they're great to set in the morning and forget til you're coming back exhausted at the end of the day... even throwing in some chili or sloppy joes or a roast, then grilling up some veggies to go with and some salad...

            i may make some polenta ahead of time, to slice and grill or broil or pan-crisp on the spot with some ragu.

            a tuna and chicken option casserole

            stratas that can soak all day before baking

            enchiladas that also benefit from soaking a bit

            a waffle iron for breakfast for dinner (eggs, waffles, hash browns, etc.) or can be used to cook other things like paninis or chicken or eggplant parm

            3 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              Can I come to the beach with you? :)

              I did see that the house we are renting has a slow-cooker so we will keep that in mind. We shamefully admit that we still enjoy our mother's sloppy joes (or as we call them - hamburg bbq). I like the idea of putting the bbq or chili in the crockpot and letting people eat when they are so moved. The beach is all about casual for us.

              1. re: lynnlato

                can i come with *you* if i am willing to do the cooking? ;-)

                1. re: Emme

                  Only if you let me help you in the kitchen! I'd be perfectly happy to sit on the beach, under an umbrella, and read a few cookbooks/mags or finish Pepin's The Apprentice finally... and then head into the kitchen and just spend hours dreaming up things and cooking and... sipping wine, of course. :-)

            2. What I would do is to bring a lot of already cooked frozen food such as pulled pork, ribs, sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce, chili, shredded beef or beef for French Dip, lasagna, ribs, etc. that can be reheated with a minimal of effort. Then get foods that can be grilled like steaks, hotdogs, chicken, pork chops, etc.

              2 Replies
              1. re: John E.

                This is what I do when we go to our "driving" beach vacation to the jersey shore. I'd much rather do the work at home before my vacation!

                1. re: John E.

                  John - my menu sounds almost exactly like yours. Spaghetti Sauce (DH makes up large batches and I freeze it). I cook a pot roast with potatoes and carrots and just warm it up for a meal then do the french dip. Pick up some local veggies and make the fajitas. And the pulled pork! Must be great minds that think alike!