Grilling keeps the kitchen cooler this summer.

Grilling is the best way to cook during the hot summer months.  From family picnics to national holidays, hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks and so much more, grilling is one of the easiest, quickest ways to cook food without heating up your kitchen and offers almost endless variety.

Let’s talk about the cooking method first. Charcoal, gas and wood each work well and they all have their distinctive flavors and benefits.

  • Natural gas or propane grilling, whether fueled by a tank or a permanent gas line, is the easiest and most reliable method of grilling, especially for the novice. Gas grilling allows greater control over temperature and therefore cooking results; wood flavors can be added to a gas grill through smoking chips.
  • Charcoal is the classic. Whether using formed briquets or lump hardwood charcoal, match light, lighter fluid or a chimney starter, charcoal has a distinct flavor and aroma unlike any other. Like gas, you can add wood flavors to charcoal grills and smokers with wood chips.
  • When out in nature, there is nothing better than the smell of a nice wood fire. With wood fires, the choice of wood you use can increase the flavor of your food, offering a smokehouse type flavor, for instance if you use a cherry wood or an applewood in your cooking. If a wood fire is your method of cooking and you choose to use a cherry or apple wood, consider what you’re cooking as it may take on the flavors of the fruit woods you’re using: chicken, fish, tofu and mushrooms all absorb flavors very easily.

Once you choose your cooking method, then it’s time to figure out what to throw on the grill. The protein options are endless, but don’t forget that you can grill fruit and vegetables as well, and even bake on the BBQ grill if you are so inclined.  Protein cooks quickly over open flames, and because of this you may want to regulate your temperature a little lower to avoid overcooking or burning.

BBQ has traditionally been all about the meat, but with people who are living a healthier lifestyle or who live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, grilling mushrooms, firm tofu, vegetables and fruit are wonderful options.  Not all vegetables and fruit are created equally or work well on the grill but many do. Corn, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, bok choy, endive, radicchio, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, green beans, broccolini, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, acorn squash, bell peppers, and hot peppers all work well on the grill.

As for fruit, pineapple, bananas, peaches, apricots, watermelon and apples are all great on the grill to complement a main dish or as a light dessert. Try sprinkling pineapple with a mix of chili flake and sea salt to serve alongside grilled mahi-mahi or cod.

Let’s talk about sauces and spices! Some people like to drown their grilled meats in a thick, smoky barbecue sauce; others want to use a rub or just simple seasonings. No matter your choice remember that tougher grades of meat should have a longer, slower cook time, and using onion or tomato-based sauces or rubs on them will help tenderize the meat.  Keep in mind you can combine ingredients such as fruit and hot peppers, garlic, onion, tomato, to create a whole new taste experience. Bottled and packaged marinade mixes that include meat tenderizers can be helpful – just be aware of sodium content!

No matter what you want to serve at your next cookout, be creative!  Try a mix of steak, fruit, veggies or throw a pizza on the grill when it’s just too darn hot to cook in the house. Try to come up with your own sauces or rubs for a personal touch. The recipes below are a great place to get you started.

Text and recipes by Lila Roth, unless otherwise noted. Lila is a trained chef and is currently working for FirstService Residential in Alberta. 

a good burger recipe is critical to grilling success
Basic Hamburger Recipe
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Basic Hamburger Recipe
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Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 pound Ground Pork
  • 1 Large Onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 Egg
  • cup ½dry breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Servings:
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Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 pound Ground Pork
  • 1 Large Onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 Egg
  • cup ½dry breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Servings:
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Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and form into patties.
  2. Cook over medium heat, indirectly, on a grill until internal temperature is at least 155F-160F.
  3. Keep in mind that beef and pork can cause flare ups due to dripping grease, so please make sure you are keeping an eye on your hamburgers. Have a spray bottle of water handy to put out flare ups if needed.
Recipe Notes

This is a basic hamburger recipe. It can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the seasonings you wish to include and the toppings you put on the burger itself.  Consider putting your favorite cheese between two thin patties, sealing it in, then grilling your burger for a “Juicy Lucy.” Swap out the pork and beef for chicken or turkey, and add sage to the spices you use. Make the basic burger and then dress up the bun with avocado, pineapple, roasted red peppers, onions, salsa, cheese, bacon, ham -- the possibilities are endless.  Create as many new flavors throughout the summer as you can!

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Homemade Cola BBQ Sauce is great for grilling
Homemade Cola BBQ Sauce
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Homemade Cola BBQ Sauce
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Servings Prep Time Cook Time
1 1/2 cups 3minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 1/2 cups 3minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 cup cola
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Servings: cups
Units:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 cup cola
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Servings: cups
Units:
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring them to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes uncovered.
  2. Combine a tablespoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of water, and stir into the simmering barbecue sauce.
  3. Let the sauce thicken for about a minute, then remove from heat.
  4. Pour into a Mason jar and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, cover and store in the fridge.
  5. This sauce is great on beef, pork, chicken and portabella mushrooms.
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Bacon wrapped asparagus is perfect for grilling
Bacon-wrapped Asparagus
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1 bunch asparagus, cleaned and trimmed 1 pound hickory-smoked bacon
Bacon-wrapped Asparagus
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1 bunch asparagus, cleaned and trimmed 1 pound hickory-smoked bacon
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4people 10minutes 15-20minutes
Servings Prep Time
4people 10minutes
Cook Time
15-20minutes
Instructions
  1. Wrap each asparagus spear with bacon. Pin with a toothpick if necessary.
  2. Grill on low heat, turning until the bacon is cooked through. Cook over indirect heat if using a charcoal grill.
  3. Makes a great appetizer or side dish.
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try beet lentil burgers for grilling
Lentil Beet Burgers
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Lentil Beet Burgers
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Servings Prep Time
4people 2hours
Servings Prep Time
4people 2hours
Ingredients
  • 2 medium or 3 small beets scrubbed clean
  • 2 tsp olive oil divided
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup Green Lentils
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cups chopped button or crimini mushrooms
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary stems removed (leaves only)
  • 1/2 cups Oats
  • ½ cup cashews sunflower seeds, or any other nut or seed you prefer (unsalted)
Servings: people
Units:
Ingredients
  • 2 medium or 3 small beets scrubbed clean
  • 2 tsp olive oil divided
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup Green Lentils
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cups chopped button or crimini mushrooms
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary stems removed (leaves only)
  • 1/2 cups Oats
  • ½ cup cashews sunflower seeds, or any other nut or seed you prefer (unsalted)
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat BBQ to 400F, or Medium Indirect heat. Place beets on foil, drizzle and rub 1 tsp oil over the beets, add salt and pepper. Wrap securely and roast on indirect heat 45-90 minutes or until they can be easily pierced with a knife. Check every 20 minutes so they don’t overcook. Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven at 400 for 60 to 90 minutes. Allow beets to cool, then remove the skins and roughly chop.
  2. Bring lentils and 1 ½ cups of water to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Cook lentils until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  3. In a saucepan, add remaining 1 tsp of oil, onions, mushrooms, rosemary leaves and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Add oats to a food processor and process on high until they become a fine powder.
  5. Add nuts or seeds of choice and process until they are also a fine powder.
  6. Add the roughly chopped beets, mushrooms, onions, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste and pulse to combine, scrapping sides as needed.
  7. When vegetables are fully incorporated, add the lentils and pulse until everything is a dough-like consistency.
  8. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate for about an hour to make it easier to form patties.
  10. Form 4 equal patties.
  11. Heat grill to medium high and oil well.
  12. Place formed patties on the grill and cook until browned and crisp, flip and repeat for other side. Top as desired.
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Grill apple crisp in foil while grilling your main course
Foil-Wrapped Apple Crisp
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Foil-Wrapped Apple Crisp
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Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4people 20minutes 20minutes
Servings Prep Time
4people 20minutes
Cook Time
20minutes
Ingredients
  • 3-4 apples chopped (Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 cup Oats
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2-3 tbsp White Sugar
Servings: people
Units:
Ingredients
  • 3-4 apples chopped (Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 cup Oats
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2-3 tbsp White Sugar
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour and butter. Mix with a fork until butter is evenly distributed.
  2. Add in apples, cinnamon and white sugar. Mix well.
  3. Overlap three pieces of foil about 18 inches long side by side to create a wider sheet. Place ingredients in the center, folding the sides over and creating a pocket, pinching the ends together to seal the pouch.
  4. Place on a medium hot grill and cook about 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are fork tender, rotating about halfway through.
  5. Check apples for tenderness at the 15 minute mark.
  6. Serve with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream while still hot for that extra little bit of goodness.
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