Grilling: More than meats the eye
Grills are made for grilling, but that doesn't mean you're limited to meat and fish. There are plenty of goodies you can throw on the barbecue that are uncommonly grilled but undoubtedly delicious.
Yes, you read that right. I'm recommending that you grill lettuce — something that people typically want to eat cool and crisp. Just humor me for a minute and consider this grilled Caesar salad. Take a head of romaine lettuce, halve it lengthwise and place the cut side down on the grill. Just a couple minutes will give it some nice char marks and flavor on one side while the other side stays fairly intact. Then dress it up and feast on the fresh-and-smoky goodness.
You can look to The Belvedere Inn in Lancaster for proof — its grilled Caesars are quite popular. Order it plain or get a version with grilled chicken, tenderloin tips, organic salmon, gulf shrimp or sea scallops.
Italians had the right idea with brick-oven pizza, and a grill isn't too far off from it. My new favorite way to make pizza is — surprise, surprise — on the grill! And guess what? Contrary to popular belief, the dough will not fall through the grill grates.
This grilled pizza guide spells everything out for you. Make your own dough or take a shortcut by using store-bought. Roll it out, brush one side with olive oil and then place that side down on the grill. In just a couple minutes, it'll be ready to flip. Just be sure to brush oil on the top before you do. Throw toppings on the cooked side, close the lid for a minute, and voila, you have a pizza!
Whether it's an actual panini or just peanut butter and jelly, every sandwich tastes better grilled. Cubans, Reubens, turkey and cheese, you name it! And while you're at it, give your wraps and burritos a quick char for added flavor.
If you ask me, no meal is complete without dessert. But forget about the oven — leave the grill on. You can start by grilling up some fruit, particularly pineapple, peaches and bananas. There are plenty of simple recipes, like this one that adds brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Alongside the fruit, feel free to warm up pieces of angel food or pound cake on the flames.
Why settle for s'mores when you can have banana boats? Stuff whole bananas with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. Throw them on the barbie and watch as they become a gooey, bubbling dessert.
What do you grill that most people normally wouldn't?
Erica Streisfeld is the editor for custom publishing at Journal Multimedia, parent company of the Central Penn Business Journal, but she moonlights as a foodie and wino. Many people also know her as founder of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup, a community cupcake competition that benefits the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and owner of Little Ditty Pops. Follow her at @HbgFoodandWine.