When it comes to grilling, few people think outside of the burger box. And while you don’t want to mess with a good thing, there are plenty of other foods to enjoy over an open flame. (Many of which when added to your burger can take it to the next level!)
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Grilling is a fast and furious process. Aside from meat, which needs to reach a specific internal temperature, most food items can cook in under 10 minutes, and require just a few flips. Grilling is an easy and healthy method to prepare your food, as it requires no extra fat, except for a little extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking; plus, any fat produced during the grilling process falls away to the coals below.
Throw the following unique foods on the grill and see how it transforms their flavour, giving them new life and sparking ideas for creative new recipes. A lot of them pair well together, so you can cook every component of your meal all in one place.
Forget ordering in. The only way to eat pizza is from the grill! Making homemade pizza on the grill gives your crust those beautiful grill marks and the flame-kissed taste of a wood-fire brick oven, the way it was meant. Brush your pizza crust, either store bought or homemade, with olive oil and place it directly on the grill. Once you see grill marks, remove it from the heat. Flip the crust and add your sauce, cheese and toppings. Place it back on the BBQ for a few more minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
Shellfish is always intimidating, but give it a shot, it’s pretty much fool-proof. Both clams and oysters barbecue up great with very little preparation. For grilling clams, just clean: place in a bucket of cold water with cornmeal to extract any sand. Dry the shells, brush them with olive oil, and place on the grill for two to three minutes at high heat. They’re done when the shells pop open. For oysters, clean them the same way and place them on the grill, flat-side up. Cook until shells open, about five minutes.
Vegetarians are usually stuck with veggie burgers and cold veggie trays at summer get togethers, but no longer! Cut tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices and soak in your favorite marinade, like teriyaki sauce, or simply brush with olive oil. Cook on the grill, about three or four minutes each side, and serve warm or cold on salad, with pita bread or over brown rice.
Avocado compliments everything — even the grill! Just cut it in half, leaving the skin on, and remove the pit. Coat the cut side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place, cut side down, on the grill and cook for five to seven minutes. Grilled avocado is just like warm butter, so scoop and spread onto your burger or sammie, or top a half with salsa and sour cream and eat as dip with tortilla chips. Or just eat it with a spoon; your resistance will be futile.
The sugars in fruit will crystallize on the grill, which makes them even sweeter than before. The juicier the fruit, the better. Thus peaches, watermelon, and pineapple are all great choices, but even bananas or apples will be delicious. Throw fruit slices or halves cut side down on the grill for just a minute or two. Add grilled fruit to any burger sandwich or salad, eat it on its own or you can even grill up dessert: char your fruit and pour over (grilled!) slices of pound cake. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Cooking bacon on the stove can make a mess, but on the grill, there’s no greasy splatter. Plus, it won’t cook in its own fat, which makes it one of the healthiest way to enjoy everyone’s favourite food. Use medium to high heat for the perfect crispy slice. Bacon can do no wrong, but try it on your burger with two other grilled favorites: avocado and pineapple.
Grilled lettuce: yep, you heard that right. It’s rare to come up with a new spin for salad, but throwing it on the grill is the way to do it. Simply wash a romaine heart and grill for about five minutes on each side, long enough to see grill marks. The smokey flavor pairs well with cool, creamy dressings, crumbled grilled bacon and grilled fruit.
Artichokes require much preparation, but once you enjoy them off the grill, you’ll know why it’s worth it. Trim the tops and the stem so the artichoke sits flat, and then slice it in half lengthwise. Boil for 15 minutes. Let it all cool, then brush with a little olive oil and minced garlic. Transfer to grill and cook on medium high heat for 5 -10 minutes, turning frequently. They are done when the tips start to char. Eat as is- you won’t need butter or mayo for these!
Polenta doesn’t have to be a mushy mess. Grilling slices of polenta will crisp up the cornmeal for a substantial, satisfying bite. Try grilled polenta slices will grilled shrimp and pineapple or toss with diced tomatoes, black beans and fresh cilantro for an easy side dish.
Only one thing is better than bread fresh out the oven: bread fresh from the grill! Use slices of big crusty bread brushed with olive oil and minced garlic, grilled to your desired crispiness. Use individually for sandwiches, crostini or bruschettas; or fully assemble the sandwich and grill panini style for extra ooey-gooey melts.