by AMANDA CONLEY
Now’s the Time to Face the Grill with No Fear
There has been a recent trend of putting just about everything on the grill. Yes, summer means grilling but there’s a way to be innovative and creative when it comes to grilling and what can and cannot go on the grill. Now that we can grill without fear, here’s what can and should absolutely be grilled.
Grilling vegetables has become common knowledge, but the types have been up to debate. Grilling hearts of romaine has recently been a decriminalized act and can produce an amazingly faintly smoky Caesar or wedge salad. Grilling watermelon for a watermelon and feta salad can improve the melon’s texture and the char cuts through some of the salt in the feta cheese. Grilling corn in the husk is a common backyard staple but shucking the corn and wrapping the ear in bacon and placing it directly on the grill is a winning combination… or sprinkling the corn with queso fresco.
Seafood is a popular item to grill but can be daunting to novice grillers. Shrimp skewers are a common grilled item but consider also baby squid or octopus; the higher heat can tenderize tougher seafood items and both squid and octopus can stand up to the flavors of high heat and light smoke.
Clams, mussels and oysters steam with their own juices inside their shells when placed directly on the grill; top the little bivalves with an herbed butter and they are a perfect starter or main course. If you can stop eating them as soon as they open up, of course. Fish is often grilled but don’t be afraid to branch out from fish market staples like salmon… and salmon does not have to be cedar planked, it’s delicious grilled on its own. Swordfish steaks are fabulous when tossed on the grill and tuna can reach a perfect outside sear and keep the flesh inside a delicious medium rare with proper temperature control.
Everyone loves pizza. Did you know that you can grill a pizza with a great deal of success? Grill your favorite pizza crust recipe and top with whatever your heart desires. Maybe some grilled eggplant and zucchini, perhaps? While you’re at it, you can grill the tomatoes beforehand to make a faintly smoky tomato sauce to top the pizza with. Grilling bread may not be a new technique, but try rubbing garlic onto freshly grilled slices for a faintly garlic taste. Take that seasoned grilled bread and cube it to add to a panzanella (bread salad) or as croutons in a more traditional greens-based salad.
Ready for dessert? Grill stone fruits like peaches, plums and nectarines, then serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of honey. The aforementioned grilled watermelon is great with this application as well. Grill up slices of pound cake for a toasty and warm shortcake. For something truly next level when it comes to grilling dessert, add a simple batter and your favorite berries or fruit to a cast iron skillet and let the cobbler brown over the coals. Cast iron evenly spreads out the heat of the coals and lowers the risk of burning the cobbler before it can be served and devoured.
Grilling is somewhat primal, we first conquered food then fire; grilling combines the two. It is the perfect combination of fire, smoke and flavor. Grilling often means summer freedom, leisure and communal gathering and sharing. We gather around grills and share. Grilling evokes the free aspects of summer and it should be fun and tasty.