Grilling is a perennial favorite cooking method for most Americans. Whether it’s done over carefully tended glowing charcoal briquettes, or the flames of a gas grill, burgers and dogs grilled in the backyard are an American tradition, as classic as apple pie; as welcome as lemonade on a hot summer day.
But these days grilling is also a hot new way to add smokey depth and rich caramelization to a wide range of foods that aren’t typically associated with family cook-outs. Sweet fruits, like fresh pineapple slices, or firm stone fruit halves, become more tender with a deepened sweetness, when grilled.
Vegetables such as squash, corn, or beets can be finished on the grill, and even more exotic vegetable, like spinach, endive, radicchio, or Romaine lettuce, can be grilled for an unusual side with flavor to spare. Burgers and steaks are fine, but today’s adventurous grill chefs are willing to try slapping virtually anything onto the grill and over the coals.
Expanding your outdoor grilling repertoire is also a good way to avoid a hot kitchen when the weather heats up. Instead of cooking sides indoors, while entrees cook outside, why not cook the entire meal al fresco?
Grilled Beets Recipe
- 6 medium to large beets, red and/or gold, well scrubbed
- 2 Tbsp. butter or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- freshly ground salt and pepper
Preheat outdoor grill to high heat. Coat a large rectangle of heavy duty aluminum foil with cooking spray. Place beets and butter/oil in center of foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add rosemary; fold to form secure packet. Place on grill and cook for about 30-40 minutes. Remove, allow to cool and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.
Grilled Spinach Recipe
- 1 bag washed, trimmed baby or regular spinach leaves
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped; add to oil
- 1 Tbsp. pine nuts
- 3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Take two large rectangles of heavy duty aluminum foil and form a cross. Spray generously with cooking spray and place spinach leaves in center. Drizzle with olive oil/garlic mixture, sprinkle with pine nuts, and bring foil edges together to form a tight packet. Place over grill for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to cool, and serve immediately. Grilled spinach can be served as is, or sprinkle with a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan before serving.