Everyone loves grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. They’re as traditional as homemade apple pie and peanuts at a baseball game. From the zesty BBQ sauces of Kansas City to the hickory rubbed briskets of Texas, the roots of barbecue are slathered in tradition. Still, when you’re relaxing in your backyard and cooking with an open flame, there are no rules.
As a modern grill master, you’re free to explore unusual ingredients. Big, bold flavors and textures are the result of creativity so why not try something a bit unexpected? These six unique grilling recipes are perfect for everyone… with options for our vegetarian and vegan friends, too!
It’s A Pizza Party On The Grill
Melting cheese. Bubbly crust. There’s no doubt about it… pizza loves heat. No need to order out when you can cook pizza right on your very own grill. While it may take a while to learn the art of cranking out a picture-perfect pie, a grill generates serious heat and is the closest thing to a pizzeria deck oven.
Depending on your personal preference, you can skip the meat toppings and go vegetarian instead. Heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil are a classic pizza combination. Or you can up the creative ante and use a squash-based crust with the toppings of your choice. If you’re pressed on time, don’t worry about cooking the dough from scratch, you can buy a ready-made dough at the grocery store.
Either cook the pizza directly on the grill or place a ceramic pizza stone on the grates. Let the stone get hot and use it like the floor of a pizza oven. Cooking a backyard pie with a ceramic pizza stone is easier, but grill-marked pizzas are certain to impress the neighbors.
Char-Grilled Oysters On The Half Shell
Instead of heading out to your favorite fish shack for a dozen briny bivalves, try cooking them on the grill. The intense heat concentrates their briny flavor, bringing the ocean to your backyard. The heat also pops open their shells, so there’s no shucking involved. For a sweet yet spicy kick, add mango pico de gallo and red chili horseradish to each oyster.
Grilled Polenta With Roasted Red Peppers
Whether it’s potato salad, baked beans, green beans, or mac and cheese, side dishes shouldn’t be an afterthought. It’s time to one-up the classics with a modern twist by thinking outside of the grill lines completely.
Polenta is boiled cornmeal, which means it’s soft and mushy. However, when it’s cooked on the grill, polenta is more like a crisp pancake than a soft porridge. It can be served as a side dish, incorporated into a main meal (grilled polenta with shrimp and escarole), or dressed up as an appetizer.
Grilled Curry Tofu With Sweet And Spicy Tamarind Chutney
Our vegan and vegetarian friends often get the short end of the stick when it comes to backyard barbecues, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Vegetarians need something to get fired up about too – something that doesn’t involve smoked and cured brisket or pasture-raised heritage hogs.
Tofu is perfectly suited for the grill because it’s firm and won’t crumble and slip through the grates. Plus, tofu is gluten-free, low calorie, and loaded with protein, iron and calcium. Serve it with sweet and spicy chutney and a side of broccoli and your vegetarian friends will be in nirvana.
Grilled Curry Tofu
Grilled Sesame Squid
Korean barbecue is just as mouth-watering as anything you’ll find in Kansas City. Most restaurants that serve Korean barbecue prepare the dishes on a gas or charcoal grill that is built into the table. But you don’t have to pay top dollar to enjoy this type of cuisine when you can do it right in your own backyard.
While the centerpiece of Korean barbecue is typically meat, you can exchange charred, juicy cuts of pork shoulder and short ribs for tender seafood. In fact, squid is a Korean barbecue favorite. The key is to buy whole squid and grill it on high heat. Pre-cut rings will slip through the grate, and high heat chars the squid quickly, keeping it springy and moist. Serve the squid with kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish made of fermented vegetables, or cucumber salad.
Grilled Sesame Squid
All Aboard The Banana Boat
Chances are you probably don’t think about whipping up a dessert on the grill. Summer is about ice cream and fresh fruit, right? But here’s the thing: you have to get creative and mix it up (even Ben & Jerry know that!).
Just about any type of fruit can be cooked on the grill, from peaches and pineapples to watermelon and grapefruit. Jazz up some grilled fruit with a scoop of sorbet and you have the quintessential summer dessert.
Or you can opt for something more decadent, and kid-friendly – grilled banana boats. It’s the sort of dessert you can easily whip up for the kids when you go camping. But it also has a “hip” factor – like the resurgence of pineapple upside-down cake – that will put a smile on anyone’s face.