If we eat one more summer meal of grilled chicken and zucchini, we might scream. But we’re not ready to cover our grill for the season (TBH, we want to use it for every meal). We just need grilling ideas that go beyond our Recipes to Make Pinterest board, so we asked a professional chef to open our eyes to the world of grilling possibilities. Frank Proto, an Institute of Culinary Education instructor, shared some surprising tips on how to make the most of the outdoor cooking tool. We had no idea a grill could be *this* diverse.
Unless otherwise noted, the grill needs to be clean and heated to hot prior to cooking these foods (especially when grilling produce and vegetables).
We’re already dreaming of a warm banana split.
- Look for bananas that still have a bit of green on the tips but are just starting to show spots (i.e., you don’t want them too mushy because they’ll fall through the grates).
- Leave them whole but remove the peel, then rub some butter around the nanner before placing directly on the grill.
- Serve with ice cream and crumbles of no-bake chocolate chip cookies.
If you don’t like cauliflower, then you don’t know about this.
- Cut the cauliflower into wedges, keeping the core intact so the florets stay together.
- Rub oil and seasonings on the wedges, then place them on the hot grill (just like you would a steak).
- Cook on both sides until it gets a nice char; this helps balance the sweet caramelization of the veg… bittersweet perfection, literally.
- This is ideal for vegetarians at a barbecue or served alongside a typical burger dinner.
Oh, boy, we can’t wait for this grilled take on a wedge salad.
- Cut the cabbage into wedges, leaving the core intact.
- Season with oil, salt, and pepper before placing on the grill.
- Don’t cut it too thick; the insides need a chance to soften and heat up.
- Wait until it chars, then remove from the grill and maybe add some blue cheese dressing.
4. Cantaloupe, Honeydew, and Melon
Melons make a great dessert for post-barbecue comas since they’re light but sweet enough to satisfy the need-a-treat-after-every-meal craving.
- Get the grill nice and hot, then place sliced melon wedges on the hottest spot of the grill so you get the caramelization going.
- A sear is really all they need, so cook for a minute or two on one side.
Kale leaves are the new steak.
- Remove the bottom stem but keep the leaves whole.
- Drizzle oil and sprinkle your preferred seasoning on the leaves prior to grilling.
- Use a grill basket and cook until leaves begin to wilt.
- Enjoy taking a classic kale chip to a new level.
Grilled strawberries? Now we will consider fruit our next ice cream topping.
- Cooking strawberries is similar to cooking melon. They should be cooked on the hottest area of the grill for a short period of time until they are seared.
- Slice them in half, then lightly smear butter on the cut part for an out-of-this-world caramelized fruit.
- Cook on the buttered side and grill quickly.
7. Bagels (and Soft Pretzels)
Who needs a toaster when you can get warm, crispy bagels with the help of your grill friend?
- Slice the bagels and place them cut side down on the coolest area of your grill.
- Put the grill top down and cook for 20 minutes.
- Coat the warm bread with cream cheese and try to take breaths between each bite.
So what you’re saying is we can eat literal grilled cheese?
- The best cheeses for the grill are manchego or drunken goat, because they won’t drip when you cook them (unlike fontina).
- Cut slices fairly thick so they stay put. Rub olive oil on them, then place on a hot grill and cook until they are done to your liking.
- Flip them once so both sides have a slight char, which will help create a soft texture all the way through.
Save the best for last, right?
- Make cookie dough and try not to eat before it’s cooked. Form into individual portions and wrap in folded foil packets, flattening out the dough.
- Leave the top of the foil slightly open to give the cookies a smoky taste.
- Place on grill and cook on medium to low heat for 15 minutes.
- Devour with a side of cold almond milk.
Frank Proto is a chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. ICE is one of the largest and most diverse culinary schools in the world, offering award-winning career training programs in culinary arts, pastry and baking arts, culinary management, and hospitality management. ICE also offers continuing education for culinary professionals; hosts more than 500 special events each year; and is home to one of the world’s largest recreational cooking, baking, and wine programs with more than 26,000 students annually.