During those first warm spring days with sunny skies and rising temperatures, I got reacquainted with my grill. I love grilling weather and when it’s nice out the neighbors have their grills going, too. All the smells drifting through the neighborhood are enough to make your mouth water.

I had some leftover quinoa in the fridge and some ground beef and thought the two would work well together as a burger mix.

The quinoa works as a healthy filler (it would also work mixed in to a meatloaf.) It adds extra protein and antioxidants and is barely noticeable when mixed into a burger. I decided to try the combination to see if anyone noticed. The burgers were placed on the buns and dressed with lettuce, onions, cheese and ketchup, and no one asked about the quinoa. The burgers were gobbled up the same as always.

Another thing I grilled was eggplant. The first time I tried this, I brushed the sliced eggplant with olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper, then set it on a hot grill. It didn’t come out as I expected; it was mushy.

I tried again, this time soaking the slices in a little salt water for a half an hour. I drained and dried the slices before brushing with olive oil and setting it on a hot grill. This method worked much better; the eggplant was firmer and had much more flavor. Salt and pepper was all that was needed.

I also picked up fresh swordfish. Swordfish is an excellent choice for grilling because it is firm and meaty and doesn’t fall apart when you grill it.

I marinated it for about 10 minutes in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and seasoning. Swordfish grills fairly quickly — it only needs five or six minutes per side, depending on how thick your piece is. Served with a mango salsa, it’s a fresh and delicious dinner option.

Great grilling weather has been hard to find during this rainy, overcast spring, but get ready because summer will eventually arrive and you want to be armed with some delicious recipes.

Swordfish with salsa

Grilled swordfish served with mango salsa.

Grilled Swordfish with Mango Salsa

1 lb. fresh swordfish steak

1 1/2 T. olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. fresh pepper

1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and garlic. Place the fish on a platter and brush both sides with the oil mixture, then sprinkle the salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning on both sides. Let sit for up to 10 minutes while you heat a grill to high. Set the fish on the grill and cook each side for 5 to 6 minutes or until the fish is no longer translucent and flakes easily with a fork. Remove from grill and serve with mango salsa.

Mango salsa

Mango salsa.

Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled and chopped into small cubes

1 lime, juiced

1/2 c. seedless cucumber, chopped

1.2 c. grape tomatoes, chopped

1/4 c. purple onion, chopped

1/4 c. avocado, chopped

3 T. fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.

Grilled Eggplant

1 med. eggplant

1 T. kosher salt

1 c. warm water

2 T. olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Remove eggplant stem, then slice the eggplant the long way into 1/4-inch slices. Set the slices in a shallow dish. Add salt to a bowl and add the warm water; stir to dissolve. When the salt is dissolved, add to the eggplant. Add enough cold water to cover the eggplant (set a small plate on top of the eggplant to weigh it down and keep it submerged, if needed). Let set for at least 30 minutes. Drain eggplant and pat dry. Add chopped garlic to a small bowl and add the olive oil. Brush the eggplant with the olive oil (both sides) and set the eggplant on a hot grill. Grill each side for about five minutes, then remove and sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.

Quinoa burger

Quinoa beef burgers.

Quinoa Beef Burgers

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 c. quinoa, cooked

1 small shallot, chopped

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1 T. olive oil

Add ground beef, quinoa, shallot, paprika, pepper, salt, onion powder and garlic powder to a medium bowl and mix to combine well. Separate the mixture into 4 parts, then shape each into a burger shape about 1-inch thick. Brush each side lightly with the olive oil. Set on a grill heated to high and cook for about five minutes on each side or until desired internal temperature (for medium rare, temperature should be around 150 degrees F). Remove from grill and serve with toppings.