Though the overwhelming majority of grilling cookbooks feature tight shots of glistening meat on their covers, you do not need to limit your outdoor cookery to carnivorous pursuits. You can also use your grill to add flavor to vegetables, fruit and even your favorite cocktail. Here’s how:
What’s better than a wedge salad with blue cheese and crisp bacon? Adding grilled iceberg to the mix. All you need is a sturdy wedge of lettuce and a hot grill, and you’re in business. Grilled romaine also adds complexity to an otherwise simple Caesar. Simply toss romaine hearts or iceberg wedges with a bit of oil and grill them over high heat until they develop a nice char. Serve with dressing and perhaps some grilled bread, too.
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Grilled limes taste amazing squeezed over chicken or tacos, while grilled lemons are delicious with fish. Grilled citrus of any sort tastes fantastic in a cocktail, particularly one that would benefit from bold flavors. We’re looking at you, margaritas. Simply grill citrus wedges or halves over high heat, cut-side down, until they’re charred and juicy. Grill citrus wheels on both sides for a neat cocktail garnish.
The natural sugars in tomatoes caramelize beautifully on a grill. Roma tomatoes, sliced in half, or skewered cherry tomatoes work best. Toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper and char them over a well-oiled, medium grill. Serve them with fresh herbs, a bit of balsamic and some good soft cheese. Or whir them in a food processor with grilled onion, cilantro and lime juice for a delicious salsa.
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Greek halloumi has a high melting point, meaning you can grill slices of it over medium to medium-high heat on a well-oiled grill for just a couple of minutes on each side. It’s the same with paneer cheese, which holds together perfectly in a tandoori oven. For your purposes, simply cube it, thread it on skewers and grill over medium heat (again, don’t forget the oil) until it’s nice and toasty brown on the outside.
Nothing rivals peaches on the grill for a fast summer dessert. Simply cut them in half, remove the pit, oil them well and grill over medium-low heat unite the juice starts to bubble, the surface gets caramelized and the fruit begins to slump into a sweet, sloppy mess. Grilled peaches are stunning when served with vanilla ice cream.
Grilling brings out a deeply caramelized flavor in pineapple. The interplay of the charred fruit with its natural acidity helps it pair beautifully with grilled meat and seafood. It’s also fantastic in salsa and would go particularly well with grilled fish or chicken tacos. For even more flavor, grill the peppers and onions in this salsa recipe:
1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced into ½-inch-thick slabs
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a grill to medium-high. Place the pineapple on the oiled grill surface and cook until grill marks have formed, 3 to 5 minutes. Use a metal spatula to flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the pineapple to a plate and let cool.
Slice the cooled pineapple into 1/2-inch cubes and place inside a large mixing bowl. Stir in the bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.