Summer in America means firing up burgers and hot dogs on the grill or maybe dusting off the steak-and-chicken menu when sophisticated adults come over to visit, or, depending on where you’re from, taking part in the rich tradition of barbecue.
Delicious options all, but many think that’s where the possibilities for grilling end. Don’t be fooled. Your grill is much more versatile than just a vehicle for charring meats. Billions of people across the world cook over open flame every day and they’re grilling way more than just beef, chicken and pork. Isn’t it time you expand your grilling repertoire? Here are a few suggestions on mixing it up.
If you’ve only had artichokes steamed, do your taste buds a favor this summer and grill your artichokes after brushing them with a little olive oil. They take on a pleasant smoky taste that’s complemented well by a garlic aioli or nutty, olive oil-based pesto dip.
Seriously, just do it. A denser one like a traditional birthday cake (before the frosting) holds up well on the grill. Don’t be surprised if you develop a romantic attraction to slices of buttery pound cake grilled on both sides and topped with whipped cream and ripe berries. Fruit and vegetable breads also benefit from this treatment so throw on your next summer zucchini bread and taste the difference.
Grilling cucumbers dries out some of their water, making them dense and a bit meaty. Cut them into long strips before grilling and add them to any summer salad or dress them alone in a spicy dressing to serve as a substitute for traditional fries.
Leave your oven alone in the summer heat and grill your pizza instead. This is a great dish for entertaining or a family night since they’re so customizable. You could add your grilled artichokes and Parmesan cheese or maybe smear a flatbread with ricotta before topping it with just-grilled figs, a little honey, chili oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Mangos caramelize over open fires and become even sweeter and juicier than they are raw. Slice and serve alone for dessert, cube and add them to any fruit or vegetable salad or top ice cream with them (you’re welcome).
If you need a culinary adventure, try grilling a whole octopus. Have your fishmonger clean it before you bring it home, then let it marinate overnight to avoid a rubbery outcome. After about 20 minutes on a grill, you’ll have the star of a Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Romaine Lettuce Hearts
Leafy greens on the grill? You read that right. If you don’t know how much better your salad can be with the simple addition of your grill, you have been missing out on a very delicious food phenomenon. Halve the hearts, brush them with olive oil before grilling and toss them in a bowl with your grilled mangos and cucumbers.