(ARA) - Just because fall is almost here doesn't mean you have to put your grill away just yet. There will be plenty of mild evenings in the next few months, and you'll want to plan some outdoor meals. To keep your menus interesting, you'll need just the right recipes and ingredients. In the never-ending search for new dishes from the grill, ham is an unexpected, delicious and easy-to-prepare option. It's hearty and satisfying, making it a great choice for the cooler season. It's also versatile enough that it can be used for a variety of meals, giving you even more flexibility when it comes to menu planning. The experts agree that the secret to preparing a delicious grilled meal is to choose the highest quality products you can find and it doesn't hurt to pair them with some great seasonings. "The quality of the meat you serve is important, and it all starts with perfecting the process of cooking; look for products that guarantee freshness," says Brian Hendrickson, Hormel Foods Curemaster. "Ham is also a great protein for adding your own seasonings, or you can look for products with brown sugar, honey or pepper-based flavoring." To help create a memorable meal, Hendrickson shares his tips: * Know your numbers: When grilling for a large crowd, count the number of guests scheduled to attend. It's a good idea to get about a pound of your preferred protein for every three to four people. Don't forget to estimate a little extra for unexpected guests, and everyone's favorite - leftovers. * Customize the grill-and-serve process: When grilling a variety of items, make sure you know how long each must be on the grill. If you're grilling ham, it's typically sold as a fully cooked product, so when preparing, all you need to do is heat it through, making it a simple solution when you're pressed for time. Look for the ham to reach a temperature of 140 to 145 degrees. * Pairing partners: To maximize your summer grilling options, pair meats with a variety of other food. The flavor profile of ham is versatile and works particularly well with both sweet and spicy flavors. Add a smoky barbecue sauce for bold, rich flavor or try lightly grilling stone fruits like plums or apricots to serve along with ham for an unusual palate pleaser. Grilled Ham and Marinated Vegetable Salad Serves: Six Total time: More than one hour Preparation time: Less than 30 minutes Ingredients: 2 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise 2 yellow summer squash, sliced lengthwise 1/3 cup olive oil 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon Di Lusso Honey Mustard 1 jar Peloponnese Roasted Red Peppers Whole, drained and sliced 6 slices Cure 81 Boneless Ham 1/3 cup basil pesto Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste Directions: Prepare grill. Grease grill grate. Brush eggplants, zucchini and summer squash with small amount of olive oil. Grill until slightly softened. In large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup oil, the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and black pepper. Add grilled vegetables and red pepper; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate 1 to 3 hours. Brush ham with small amount of oil. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until hot and grill marks appear. Serve with marinated vegetables and pesto.
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