Whether you’re a fan of charcoal or gas, food seems to taste extra special when it’s prepared on the grill. Hotdogs and burgers are tried and true grill staples, but if you’re ready to try something a little more unexpected, you’ve come to the right place.
Pizza. Too hot to turn on the oven? This crowd-pleasing dish tastes great fresh off the grill! For the perfect pie, oil the grates and preheat grill to medium-high. Divide a pound of pizza dough into two balls and stretch into oblong shapes. Carefully place the dough on the grill and cook for 3 minutes or until one side is a bit crispy. Then, use a spatula to remove the dough from the grill and place it on a baking sheet (grilled side up). Add your favorite toppings and grill for another 6 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Clams or Mussels. For a deliciously unusual treat, grill your shellfish! Make sure to clean the clams or mussels really well (try soaking in a large bowl of cold water to get rid of any sand). Dry off the shells and coat with melted butter and your favorite seafood seasoning mix. Grill over high heat for 2-3 minutes or until the shells open up.
Lettuce. Yes! You can really grill lettuce. Choose a firm head of romaine for the best results. Wash the lettuce thoroughly, pat dry, cut in half, and brush with olive oil. Preheat the grill to medium and then grill the lettuce for 30-60 seconds on each side. It’s done when the leaves have softened and there are some slight grill marks. Remove from heat, cut in half (each head of romaine should result in 4 servings), and drizzle with your favorite dressing.
Potatoes. Looking for a quick side for your favorite main dish? Try grilled potatoes. Choose firm potatoes (waxy or new potatoes work especially well) and wash thoroughly. Then, slice the potatoes into thick wedges or slices (about ½” thick), coat with vegetable oil or melted butter, and grill on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.
Avocado. To grill an avocado, cut the fruit in half and remove the pit. Keep the skin on and brush the cut side with oil. Place the cut side down on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Once it’s finished, serve it whole for an eye-pleasing treat or mix with minced jalapeno, diced onion, and lime juice for a delightfully different take on guacamole.
Pineapple. Meat isn’t the only thing made for the grill! Firm fruit does wonderfully over an open flame. To prepare pineapple, remove the tough skin and core and cut into 1” thick slices. Rub a bit of oil on the grill grates and preheat to high. Grill slices of pineapple about 2-3 minutes on each side or until the fruit has softened and grill marks appear. Remove pineapple from grill and drizzle with honey for a refreshing dessert.
Peaches. Is there anything better than grilled peaches during the peak of summer? To prepare, slice peaches and remove the pits. Preheat the grill to medium-high, brush peaches with butter or oil, and grill cut-side-down. Grill for about a minute then flip over and grill for another minute or two. You’re done when you see those tell tale grill marks! Top your peaches with vanilla ice cream and prepare to become a grilled fruit convert.
Pound cake or banana bread. If you’re ready to take dessert to the next level, brush thick slices of pound cake of quick bread with a bit of butter or oil then grill over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side. Try topping the grilled cake with a bit of freshly whipped cream!
Grilling is a fast, easy, and fun way to cook. So the next time you fire up the grill, try something a bit outside the box -- you may find it surprisingly delicious!
Megan is a writer, RRCA certified running coach, and new mom living and training in rural upstate New York. She competed in DIII track and cross-country at Wesleyan University and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance.
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