Grilling food in the summer is an American pastime, on par with baseball, apple pie, and getting Popsicle juice all over your shirt. So this month, let’s celebrate the grill and its place in Americana by getting creative and thinking outside-the-dome.
Cover All Your Bases… and Burgers: Cheddar cheese on a grilled burger is delicious, but also a little predictable. This summer, throw a curveball into this classic creation by pairing your red meat with a little white cheese. The line-up most readily found in your local grocery store includes: feta, mozzarella, asiago, ricotta, mascarpone, and queso blanco. Slice the cheese into a diamond shape and lay atop your burger for a home run or let a circle shaped slice or dollop melt before adding some red ketchup stitching for a grand slam of surprising flavors. For an extra patriotic kick, create a red, white and blue look by using blue cheese.
Out of the Oven, Into the Grill: We’ve all experienced baked meatloaf before. For some, the dish brings back warm, happy memories. For others, it causes flashbacks of dry mouth, chugging water, and the surprising crunch of onion chunks. Whether you’ve had happy or horrifying memories in the past, give this classic dish another chance by throwing it on the grill. Ok, don’t actually throw it. You still need to mix the ground beef with egg, tomato paste, sautéed onion and garlic, breadcrumbs, Worchester sauce, and salt and pepper. Then you can place the mixture onto some aluminum foil and form it into its lovely namesake before popping it on the grill.
A is for Apple, G is for Grill: Yes, you could bake an apple pie for dessert… or you can grill a spin-off version. Making grilled apples is as easy as slicing the apples, putting them on the grill for 6-7 minutes on each side, and then sprinkling them with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. While your apples are grilling, prepare dessert bowls by crumbling up graham crackers (your choice of cinnamon, honey, or chocolate flavored). Remove the apples from the grill and allow them to chill out for a moment while you merrily scoop vanilla ice cream into each bowl.Finally, top each bowl with your delicious grilled apples and enjoy!
Say Ah-vacado: Grilled avocados make for a hearty side dish to any cookout. But what if the avocado took its place on the main stage as a smoky, flavor-filled dish? Begin by cutting the avocados in half and grilling them alongside some shrimp, another filling summer ingredient. Once your avocado is done, scoop out most of the meat and put into a big bowl. (Save the shells, you’ll need them!) Next, cut your shrimp into small pieces and toss those into the bowl as well. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, fresh cilantro, and a little bit of lemon juice. Finally, sprinkle in a dash of smoked paprika to add another layer of smoky flavor to the dish. Mix and mash, then re-distribute the filling back into the avocado shells. Want bonus points for presentation? Make small sails ahead of time by using a toothpick and some blue painters tape cut in the shape of a triangle. Place a few large lettuce leaves on the plate, set your stuffed avocado in the center, and stick your toothpick sail in the middle of the filling. Your guests will “sea” a delicious dinner awaiting them.
Star-Spangled Banner: The star fruit may not be the most commonly consumed in its family, but it might be the most patriotic. If you’re serving up an American-themed meal, try grilling starfruit slices to pair with shrimp or tuna. The sweetly tart fruit pairs perfectly with seafood. You can also use starfruit slices as a garnish to add star-power to a beautifully grilled steak or kabobs.
Silver Lining: This idea is for those of us who love themes to run throughout the entire party — from food to decorations. Take the grill lines of your meal and play it up as a motif running throughout your decorations. Buy a striped tablecloth or make your own by using colored duct tape on a white plastic backdrop. Serve food on striped plates with striped napkins. Use colored crafting tape to make bands around the tops of your guests’ cups, thereby adding color and ensuring no one mixes up their cups. Create your own placemats by cutting brown paper bags into rectangles and using a permanent marker to draw tic-tac-toe boards on them. Scatter colored markers around for guests to entertain themselves while the food is grilling. Soon enough, the smells of your freshly grilled masterpieces will have them lining up, and will all those stripes around, the image of perfect grill marks will already be in their heads.