UNITED STATES—I’ve been to my fair share of barbecues over the years. During my childhood, they involved burgers on the beach, hot dogs at birthday parties, and “galbi,” Korean marinated short ribs, in the backyard. In cooler months, my family frequented Korean barbecue restaurants, where we would cook portions of beef or pork belly on built-in grills and go home reeking of smoke.
I’ve always believed barbecues, or all events that revolve around food, for that matter, have the potential to bring people closer. I’ve bonded with friends over many a coffee, dessert, or meal. In the summers when I was home from college, I connected with my older brother through my budding interest in baking and his passion for cooking. We would find ourselves stationed in the kitchen at our parents’ dinner parties, chatting while he chopped ingredients for stuffed mushrooms or I mixed batter for a Bundt cake. I would keep him company outside next to the grill, as he waited for the meat and vegetables to finish cooking.
Now that we’re all scattered, these gatherings don’t occur as frequently. But since I moved recently, I do plan on hosting a housewarming party before the summer ends. What better way to celebrate than to have a barbecue? I’ve been looking into unusual grilling recipes when time permits, and thinking outside of the “burger and hot dog” box. Who knew such a variety of food could be tossed onto the grill? And is it just me, or do grill marks make everything more appealing?
One summer, my brother introduced me to grilled shrimp skewers and clams. I’d never had grilled seafood up to that point and only had it twice after. But to this day, it remains one of my favorite barbecued foods. This Grilled Oyster recipe is just about perfect, since I love oysters, and I love grilled seafood. Plus, infused butter is never a bad idea. Butter is processed with bourbon, honey, garlic, and chipotle. The oysters are grilled or broiled with a dab of the flavored butter, then enjoyed immediately. These seem like an easy appetizer that will take the edge off guests’ hunger.
Who knew lettuce could be grilled? Since I gave up beef and pork a few years ago, vegetarian recipes are always welcome. For this Grilled Caesar Salad, baby romaine hearts are sliced and grilled alongside slices of crusty bread brushed with olive oil. Caesar dressing is drizzled on top, with a sprinkle of parmesan. This is definitely my kind of meal; if it has bread, cheese, and crunchy lettuce, I’m in.
This recipe uses grilled food inside grilled food. It doesn’t get better than that. For these Grilled Quesadillas, chicken is seasoned with spices, herbs, and lime juice, before it’s grilled and shredded into bite-sized pieces. Tortillas are warmed in the microwave and filled with the chicken, grilled onions, diced tomatoes, and shredded cheese. Then they are grilled until the tortillas are browned and the cheese is melted. The best part? The cheese oozing out the edges!
So now it’s pretty evident I like cheese and bread. And the way I see it, the best way to combine cheese and bread, besides in a grilled cheese, is in pizza. Or flatbread, in this case. This recipe involves handmade pita bread, which isn’t as challenging as it sounds. Water, yeast, and honey are combined, set aside until foamy, then mixed with flour and salt. The dough is allowed to rise until doubled, then divided and rolled out thinly. The dough rounds are cooked on a skillet for a couple of minutes, then topped with a yogurt spread made with feta and herbs. Chicken marinated in herbs, olive oil, and lemon juice is grilled and puts the finishing touch on the flatbread. Like any other pizza or flatbread, this recipe is easily customizable to one’s tastes. Meat lovers, margherita, pesto and chicken, strawberry and Nutella…the list goes on.
Now on to my favorite: dessert! I never enjoyed pineapple until I took a trip to Hawaii after my high school graduation and visited a pineapple farm there. One bite and I was hooked. I imagine placing slices of sweet and juicy pineapple on a grill will only deepen the flavors. These Pineapple Sundaes are made with grilled pineapple rings dusted with cinnamon and topped with a scoop of ice cream. Coconut sugar, coconut rum, and butter are boiled together and then simmered to make a sauce, which is drizzled over the ice cream and fruit. Toasted coconut is added for a bit of texture. Who needs Hawaii with this dessert?
Other sturdy fruits, such as peaches, plums, and apricots can be grilled and implemented in desserts as well. This simple Grilled Stone Fruit recipe uses halved fruits topped with caramelized almonds and honey, with a creamy mascarpone dip.
I admit it: I adore cute foods. And these Grilled Peach Pies are definitely cute. Frozen peach slices are brushed with a powdered sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice mixture, then grilled. 4-inch circles are cut from rolled out pie crust, filled with the peach slices and more glaze, and crimped with a fork. After several minutes on the grill, the hand pies will be golden brown and ready to eat. Convenient and tasty!
The first time I tried s’mores was on a camping trip when I was seven. I had three in a row and felt sick to my stomach after, but I still think the chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker combination is one of the best. To this day, I am drawn to s’mores ice cream and chocolate bars with mini marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs.
These S’mores Cones use sugar or waffle cones in place of graham crackers, reducing the crumby mess that comes with traditional s’mores. The cones are filled with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, wrapped in foil, and placed on a heated grill for 7 to 10 minutes. I’m imagining tasty variations involving mini peanut butter cups, mini Twix, or mini anything.
For another twist on s’mores, bananas can be sliced lengthwise, topped with marshmallows, graham cracker pieces, and chocolate chips, and grilled. Assorted toppings such as granola, nuts, shredded coconut, and fruit can be used.
There’s pound cake…and then there’s Grilled Pound Cake. My grandmother was a fan of the Sara Lee frozen pound cake while I was growing up, so this dessert holds a special place in my heart. This particular recipe is made with non-dairy milk, maple syrup in place of sugar, and a gluten- and grain-free cassava flour. After the cake is baked and cooled, thick slices are grilled for up to two minutes per side, then topped with fresh lemon curd and berries. I may even add a scoop of vanilla ice cream while I’m at it.
With all of these recipes to try, I guess I don’t have an excuse to put off a housewarming party any longer! Summer is the perfect time to get the grill going, make memories with family and friends, and enjoy the warmth before it fades away. Good food and better company—I can’t ask for more than that.