As winter fades and the weather warms, the telltale signs of spring and summer make their appearance. There are blooming flowers, humming bees, and the appetizing scent of a good, old-fashioned BBQ.
But just because outdoor BBQs are an American tradition doesn’t mean you have to stick to the typical fare. Set aside those hotdogs and hamburgers, and fire up one of these 10 unexpected but oh-so-satisfying eats at your next cookout.
If you’ve never had grilled avocado, you’re missing out. To make this quick side dish, slice your avocado lengthwise, leaving the peel on. Remove the seed, rub the fruit with a thin coat of olive oil and lemon juice, and place the avocado on the grill with the peel facing up. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes, and top with pico de gallo or corn salsa.
Pro tip: Want to crank it up a notch? Turn your grilled avocado into smoked guacamole, and watch as your guests ooh and aah over the robust flavor.
The best thing about grilled pizza — besides the perfectly crispy crust —is how easy it is to make. Lightly brush both sides of your pizza dough (either homemade or store bought) with olive oil. Place the dough on your grill, and wait 1-2 minutes. When the bottom starts to char and the top begins to bubble, flip and cook another 1-2 minutes.
After grilling the dough, add your favorite toppings. The sky’s the limit here. You can go traditional with marinara and pepperoni, or you can get fancy with ricotta and artichokes.
Pro tip: Focused on keeping things simple? Skip buying individual toppings or dough ingredients, and grill pre-made frozen pizza instead.
Believe it or not, lemons (and limes, too) are great for grilling. The cooking process brings out their natural flavor and helps release their juices.
Halve these citrus fruits and grill them on their own, or pop them onto skewers with other meats and veggies for flavorful kebabs.
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Grilling isn’t just for lunch and dinner. You can barbecue your breakfast, too. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray, and twist up the edges to form a pouch. Load up the pouch with granola and any other fixings you see fit (blueberries and cinnamon are a great choice).
Place the foil directly on the grill, and let it cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. When it’s ready, pour your granola over yogurt or eat it by itself for a little morning crunch.
For a fresh take on fresh fruit, serve your guests a grilled grape appetizer. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Wash a pound of grapes, and place them in the bowl. Shake or stir to coat, and let them marinate for an hour.
Place your grapes directly on the grill, letting them cook for up to three minutes on each side, or until charred and bursting. The result? A sweet and smoky take on what would otherwise be humdrum finger food.
Watermelon is the quintessential summer snack, but if you’re not a fan of sticky juice running down your hands, grill it instead. This allows the watermelon’s sugars to caramelize and the fruit itself to become more firm.
Cut your watermelon into wedges, and barbecue each side for 2-3 minutes. You can eat your grilled watermelon plain, or if you want to spice it up (literally), drizzle the wedges with salt, lime juice, paprika, or cayenne pepper before grilling.
Pro tip: To make the most of your summer, learn how to manage your money now so you don’t have to choose between having fun and paying your bills.
You don’t have to eat meat to enjoy a good BBQ. Grilled tofu, when done right, is wonderfully crispy on the outside and scrumptiously tender on the inside. You can grill tofu in its untouched form or marinate it ahead of time. If you choose to pre-season your tofu, stick with thicker sauces and glazes, like barbecue sauce or a good pesto.
Whether you go with a marinade or not, drain your tofu well and oil your grill before cooking. That way, you’ll get the right texture and keep the tofu from sticking to the grill.
Brie is the ideal accompaniment for bread and wine, and when grilled, your standard wheel of brie turns into a wheel of glee. The key here is to use indirect heat. You don’t want your brie right on an open flame or a hot grill grate. Instead, place a wheel of brie beside the heat source, and let it cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
When it’s ready, spread this creamy, melty delicacy on baguette slices or serve with peaches, honey, or pears.
For another delicious breakfast indulgence, try grilled French toast. Prep your French toast like you normally would, but instead of cooking this dish over the stove, place your soaked bread slices on your grill. After about two minutes, or when grill marks start to form, flip the slices and cook for another two minutes until finished.
Pair your grilled French toast with grilled granola and yogurt in the morning, or with grilled grapes and mimosas at brunch.
Who says you can’t grill desserts? For a no-muss, no-fuss sweet treat, grill a banana split. Without removing the peel, slice your banana lengthwise. Then, plop it on the grill, banana side down. After about two minutes, flip it over and bedazzle it with your favorite toppings.
Cook your banana split for five more minutes, add a scoop (or two) of ice cream, and you have a masterpiece.
There’s nothing quite like an outdoor BBQ, but you’re not limited to the conventional menu. Adding a few new items to your spread, like grilled pizza or grilled banana splits, can liven up any backyard cookout.
Swapping out the brisket for fruits and veggies could help you save money, too, since produce prices have been (slightly) less impacted by surging inflation.
You’ll keep more of your coins without compromising flavor, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate the summer season than that.