22 Surprising Things You Wouldn’t Think to Grill—But Should
Spice up your next barbecue by tossing something unexpected—unexpectedly delicious, that is—on the fire.
“Grilling is the best way to prepare food because it highlights the simplicity and versatility of the product,” notes Casey Burchfield, Chef de Cuisine, Linger Longer Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Georgia. “The food picks up hints of beautiful smoke flavor from the char as well as the wood used. It imparts a glorious texture due to the intense heat creating a nice char, aroma, and visual effect.” One of his favorite picks? Gem lettuce. To make, cut the gem lettuce in half lengthwise, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Next, lay the gems cut side down on the hottest part of the grill until they get some beautiful char—it should only take about 20 seconds—then quickly take them off and cool them down in the refrigerator. Just be sure to avoid these 16 grilling mistakes for the best results.
Blanch the potatoes first, advises Burchfield, because “they would burn on the grill before they are cooked if you didn’t.” He recommends steaming them in heavily salted water with some herbs and garlic tossed in. “Grilling adds a nice smokiness to the potato,” he says. Want more grilling ideas that won’t bust your diet? Start with these 15 grilling recipes under 400 calories.
“Grilling a peach adds notes of smokiness and caramelizes the sugars adding depth in flavor,” says Burchfield. He likes to serve grilled peaches with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, fresh, cold peach slices, crushed pecans, and a small drizzle of sorghum.
SEE D JAN/Shutterstock
When you’re bored with that avocado toast or guacamole, try grilling them, suggests Peter Agostinelli, executive chef at Grill 23 in Boston. “I just cut them in half sprinkle olive oil and salt and pepper on them and put them cut side down on a cooler part of the grill for about ten minutes,” he says. “They have a great soft buttery texture when you slow grill them this way.” He finishes them with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
New Englander Gregg Brackman, owner of G Bar and Kitchen in Swampscott, Massachusetts and Culinary Fight Club National Champion likes to grill lobster. Take a live lobster and cut it in half down the middle. “Then season it lightly with olive oil, butter, and a sprinkle of thyme and garlic, before placing it face down on the grill,” he says noting that the light seasoning won’t overpower the delicate flavor of the lobster. Follow this foolproof guide for grilling perfect burgers and chicken every time.
One of Brackman’s favorite grilling sensations starts with a melon. Before placing the melon on the grill, be sure that it is peeled, cleaned properly, and oiled. “Give the melon a nice seer to bring out the sweetness,” says Brackman who cuts the grilled melon into thick slices and serves with Prosciutto.
Another way Brackman celebrates his love of cooking with fire is to grill flatbread. He says to place the pizza dough on a cleaned grill making sure the grates are oiled and the temperature is not too hot. After the bread is cooked remove from the heat, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan cheese. Before you fire up the barbecue, check out 31 of our favorite recipes for the grill.
Grilling cucumbers lifts them out of the salad category and turns them into an elegant side dish for grilled or seared fish, chicken, and lamb, says Tyler Kinnett, executive chef at Harvest in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “After the cucumber gets flavorful char marks on the grill, dress it with chopped herbs of your choice (my preference is mint and dill), drizzle on some olive oil and either lemon juice or some high quality, sweeter vinegar, like apple cider vinegar or Moscatel wine vinegar,” he says.
Grilling isn’t only a low-calorie way to prepare food, but it’s also faster and there’s less cleanup, says Liz Bane certified holistic health coach and president of Liz Bane Life in Balance. One of her favorite salads begins with grilled romaine lettuce. After slicing the lettuce lengthwise down the middle, rub the flat side with avocado oil and heat the lettuce on the grill until it has slight char marks. “I love the crunchy texture and buttery flavor,” says Bane.
For a vegan main dish, try cauliflower, a fiber-filled vegetable. Bane recommends starting with the biggest head of cauliflower you can find. “Cut inch-wide steaks from the outside moving into the middle, then rub each piece with a little coconut oil for sweetness, and add a sprinkle of paprika for color and cumin for flavor,” she says. Cauliflower may need to grill a little longer than other vegetables, she notes.