Whether you’re on your private apartment patio or backyard grill, the sizzling sounds and delicious smoke rising are sure signs that summer has arrived. While you definitely want to make good use of the warm weather and long, lazy days, there are really only so many variations of burgers and brats out there. Why not try changing things up and trying out one of these five unexpected dishes to throw into your grilling repertoire?
1. Pizza – Craving a nice wood-fired pizza but don’t want to leave the house? Look no further than your trusty grill. While you can use a pizza stone (make sure to heat it up with the grill), to get those beautiful grill marks and slight char taste you should cook it directly on the grill grates. Depending on what toppings you choose and your preferred level of doneness you can either cook the dough and toppings all at once or let the dough cook on its own for 4-5 minutes, flip it, then add the toppings to finish cooking. As far as toppings go, it’s up to you if you want to be controversial and choose pineapple, or keep to more traditional flavors with a Grilled Caprese Pizza.
2. Tofu – Not just a diet fad of the 1980’s anymore, tofu is gaining popularity as a healthy, but tasty, meat alternative. Tofu is the perfect base for whatever flavor profile you’re currently craving, from savory to sweet, spicy to umami. It’s an easy way to get protein, iron, calcium and all eight amino acids while being low in calories. For grilling purposes it’s best to get a “firm” or “extra firm” variety, and the rest is up to you. While tofu is rather bland on its own, it basically acts as a sponge for whatever marinade you want. So if you’re feeling weighed down by heavy “meat and potatoes” grilled meals, try something like Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu to lighten things up.
3. Quesadillas – Another versatile and unexpected grilling option is quesadillas. Wow your next dinner party with grilled quesadillas as an appetizer, and customize them for your group. You can keep them vegetarian friendly, use dairy-free cheese for your vegan friends, or use corn tortillas if anyone is gluten sensitive. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious choose a sweet cheese like brie and fill the quesadillas with fruit for an impressive dessert. If you want to keep the Tex-Mex feel and everyone is okay with eating meat you can try out these Grilled Chipotle-Chicken Quesadillas.
4. Fruit – Grilling: not just for savory dishes anymore! Add another dimension to your desserts and sides by cooking them on the grill. Harder fruits like watermelon, pineapple, peaches, and apples work best on a grill, and make sure to keep the fruits cut larger or in wedges so you can handle them easier and they don’t fall through the grates. While the natural sugar in fruit will caramelize nicely on its own, you can add another flavor profile with a marinade or glaze like Honey Glazed Grilled Pineapple.
5. Meatballs – In the mood for burgers, but different? Shake things up a bit and grill up some meatballs! Meatballs are another very versatile dish since you can customize everything from the type of meat you use to the flavor profile of the spices and mix-ins. You can go for a more traditional, Italian-style dish or think out of the box with Chimichurri Grilled Meatballs. Choose to have them as an appetizer, a side, or a topping for pasta or salads. The possibilities are endless.