Fire Up the Grill
You’ve probably mastered your favorite burgers and barbecued chicken on the grill, but have you ever created a meal where every course, from appetizer to dessert, is grilled? Not only will your fellow diners be surprised and impressed, but you’ll also keep the house cool by avoiding the oven or stove.
Grilling creates unique flavors. As foods heat up they release moisture, which drips down onto the coals. That sizzle in turn creates smoke that rises up to flavor foods. The smokiness combines with the natural caramelization of foods on the grill to create something truly special. And while most people are comfortable with grilling meats, it’s actually fruits and vegetables, with their high content of natural sugars, that really become transformed when grilled.
Menu (click for recipe)
Grilled Figs with Gorgonzola and Citrus Honey
Grilled Romaine and Asparagus Salad with Pinenut Dressing
Grilled Corn with Basil Butter
Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream and Rosemary Syrup
When grilling fruits and vegetables, heat your grill to medium hot or hot. You want to quickly sear and brown these foods without overcooking them to the point of being mushy. The figs and the peaches in this menu should be grilled cut side down just long enough for grill marks to appear and for the sugars in the fruit to caramelize.Turn the fruit carefully with tongs and grill just another minute or so on the uncut side to heat the fruit through.
Grilling lettuce might sound strange, and certainly this technique won’t work on small, leafy greens. The heart of a head of romaine lettuce, however, is just perfect for grilling. The outside leaves of the lettuce take on a slightly wilted, warm texture with lovely char marks, while the inner leaves remain cool and crisp, creating contrast in the salad. Pairing the romaine with grilled asparagus and a pinenut dressing creates a special salad.
I prefer the char you get when the kernels on an ear of corn make direct contact with the grill, but you can also cook it in the husks. Peel back the husks, remove the silk, and then close the husks back around the corn. Be sure to soak the ears of corn first so the husks absorb water, which prevents them from catching on fire and helps steam the corn while it’s grilling. Corn becomes tough if overcooked, so only grill a few minutes per side to cook the corn and develop some nice charred spots.
The weather’s warming up and the menu is set, so call some friends and get ready to fire up the grill this weekend.
About the author: Michele Morris leads cooking dinner parties and teaches private and group cooking classes for both kids and adults. For more great recipes, cooking tips, and resources, visit her website www.cookingwithmichele.com.