Fire Up The Grill: Beyond Burgers And Hot Dogs

Break out the BBQ, it’s grilling season!

Photo: John & Sue Fan

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Break out the BBQ, it’s grilling season! Think beyond the standard burgers-and-dogs fare and try one of these inventive grilling recipes.

Grill it: Greens (and yellows and reds)

To prepare veggies for the grill, toss lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Prevent sticking by brushing grill grates with olive oil as well. Use for all recipes below.

Classic grilling veggies: Peppers, asparagus, eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini

Fresh ideas: Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and baby bok choy

Slice veggies about a quarter-inch thick. For broccoli and cauliflower, break into thin pieces. Some vegetables grill quicker than others, but most take three to five minutes per side on medium heat. Select the veggies you want and try one of these variations:

Make a large green salad mixing fresh and grilled vegetables.

Serve a grilled vegetable crudité: Pile veggies on a large platter with salsa, tzatziki or hummus for dipping.

Slice grilled vegetables and use for a grilled veggie pilaf with wild rice, quinoa or whole-wheat couscous. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, juice and zest of one orange and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Grill it: Sweet potato “fries”

Clean and partially cook sweet potatoes or yams in the microwave for three to four minutes per side. Then grill on medium for four to five minutes per side.

Grill it: Romaine salad

Cut romaine lettuce bunch in half. Grill on medium-high for three to four minutes per side. Serve on a large plate topped with fresh orange segments, capers, basil, toasted slivered almonds, sprinkled feta and a drizzle of light vinaigrette. Radicchio and endive also work nicely. Try making a grilled salad with some of your other favorite fixings.

RELATED: Recipe – Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Salad

Grill it: Avocado tomato appetizer

Quarter two avocados, removing the pits and leaving skin on. Halve four Roma tomatoes. Grill avocados and tomatoes four to five minutes per side. Arrange on a large platter topped with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkle of queso fresco or cotija cheese (a salty Mexican-style cheese).

Grill it: Fruit

Fruit is made for the grill because the sugars caramelize, bringing out a natural sweetness. Halve peaches or plums (removing the pits), or slice mangos, pineapple, bananas or plantains. Toss fruit with a small amount of canola or grapeseed oil and a drizzle of agave nectar or honey. Grill two to three minutes per side for softer fruit, or three to four minutes per side for firmer fruit. Serve warm with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, or caramel and sea salt gelato. Or keep it light with yogurt and a sprig of fresh mint.

RELATED: Recipe – Seared Ahi With Strawberry-Cucumber Salad

Grill it: Pizzas 

Love pizza? Wait till you try it on the grill. These 10 steps make it easy:
Prepare a bowl of olive oil for brushing pizza dough and grill plates.
Get pizza toppings ready to go: sauce, cheese, herbs, meats, vegetables. Tip: Grill veggie toppings first.
Roll out prepared pizza dough on a floured surface. Keep dough flat, without a rimmed crust. Brush both sides with olive oil. Tip: Find prepared dough in specialty stores or by request from your favorite pizza restaurant.
4) Slide dough onto a floured or cornmeal-covered cookie sheet (without rims) and poke holes in the dough with a fork.
Heat grill to medium-high heat and brush (a paper towel works) the grates with olive oil.
6) Slide the dough onto the grill and cook for about two minutes. Rotate dough 90 degrees and cook another one to two minutes until dough starts to bubble.
7) Using the cookie sheet, remove dough from grill. Flip raw side down.
On the grilled side (now facing up), add sauce, toppings and cheese. Tip: Limit sauce to one cup or pizza may get soggy.
9) Turn grill heat to medium, and re-brush grates with olive oil.
Slide pizza back onto grill and let cook for 2–3 minutes with the cover closed, until cheese is melted and bubbling.

RECIPE: Chicken sausage, red pepper and Crimini mushroom pizza

Grill one red pepper, let cool, remove seeds and slice. Slice two precooked chicken sausages. Top pizza with one cup prepared bruschetta sauce, chicken sausage, red pepper, and one cup sliced crimini mushrooms. Place quarter-sized dollops of low-fat ricotta cheese around the pizza. Thinly slice fresh mozzarella cheese and layer conservatively around the pizza. Once grilled, top with fresh arugula.

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