Even though summer just officially started last week, if you’re like us you probably broke out the grill a couple months ago. After awhile, steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs can get a little old. We’ve come to the rescue! Here are six- or maybe seven, depending how you count- creative summer grilling ideas, plus a bonus summer cocktail, to help you mix things up.
Grilled avocados with salmon
This is one of our favorite recipes for the summer. It’s from the restaurant Electric Lemon in New York City. Electric Lemon is part of the fitness group Equinox so is dedicated to clean eating and locally sourced ingredients. They released this recipe for grilled avocados with salmon during the lockdown, and it is fantastic.
First, slice each avocado in half and remove its seed. Then, carefully peel off the skin. Spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place your avocados on the grill, cut side down. Once the avocados have a bit of char, flip and then grill for another minute. Remove from the grill and season with lime juice. Stuff the insides with smoked salmon and put on a plate with buttermilk dressing. Sprinkle with a mix of roasted flax, chia, sesame and sunflower seeds. Here is the recipe: Grilled avocado with buttermilk dressing. Note: they left out the buttermilk in the recipe for the dressing. We experimented and found two tablespoons work well.
Grilled asparagus is fantastic, healthy and less tricky on the grill than cooking in water.
Start by thoroughly rinsing the asparagus with water. It is important to be thorough because sand can accumulate in the tips. Then, lightly coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place on the grill (high heat) and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning halfway. If you want it more tender, leave it on the grill a little longer.
For a really healthy meal, serve grilled asparagus with the above grilled avocado recipe. You can drizzle a little (or a lot!) of buttermilk dressing over the top of the asparagus.
Grilled Peruvian chicken with spicy Peruvian green sauce and cilantro rice
This is a delicious, full meal that is super fresh, flavorful and healthy. If you are a vegetarian (or cooking for one) you can substitute Portobello mushrooms for the chicken.
We skip the avocado tomato salad in the recipe and go straight for the cilantro rice bowl variation. We prefer to start preparations a day in advance so the chicken and marinate overnight. This gives more flavor to the chicken.
Grilled corn and quinoa salad with mango, tomato and herbs
This recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Superfood Cookbook, which is filled with delicious, healthy recipes. It is a fresh way to use all that surplus corn on the cob you buy for your Fourth of July barbecue. Here are the ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups of quinoa (you can use any color or just regular quinoa)
- 1 small ripe mango
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 1/3 cups tomotoes
- 2 limes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 corn on the cob
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 slices of bacon
- 1 fresh red chili
- 1 1/2 tablespoons feta cheese
- 1/2 a bunch of cilantro or mint
Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package and drain.
Peel and remove the seeds from the mango and avocado. Cut them into pieces and put in a bowl. Cut the tomatoes into pieces and add them to the bowl. Then, zest the limes and add the zest to the bowl, along with the juice from the limes. Toss with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and a little black pepper. Cover and let this macerate while you grill the corn.
After you have prepared your grill, place the corn on the cob on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes until it is charred. Make sure to turn the cobs frequently while you are cooking it so it is evenly charred. Cool and carefully slice off the kernels.
Peel the garlic and finely slice it with the bacon and the chili. If you don’t want as much heat, you can de-seed the chili before slicing it. Place all three ingredients, plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil, in a small frying pan on medium heat. Cook into golden brown, stirring frequently.
When finished it is time to assemble the salads. Put the garlic/bacon/chili mix into the mango/avocado/tomato bowl. Add the quinoa and grilled corn. Toss and season to taste. Divide and individually plate according to your portion size preferences, crumble the feta over the individual salads and garnish with the fresh coriander or mint.
Pizza on the grill
Did you know you can make pizza on the grill? It’s like having your very own wood fired oven.
First, make the pizza dough. Here is a good recipe from the Food Network: Pizza Dough Recipe.
Next, decide upon your pizza toppings. Ironically, we like to go more traditional with this one of our creative grilling ideas: spread fresh tomato sauce on the dough, add some slices of fresh mozzarella and cooked Italian sausage. You can also add Canadian bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms and/or bell peppers if you like.
Place a pizza stone on your grill and preheat it for about five minutes. Put the pizza on top of the pizza stone and cook until crispy- 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pizza from the stone. Using a pizza peel to do this makes it much easier and they are not that expensive. Garnish the pizza with sprigs of fresh basil.
Grilled salt crusted fish with aromatic herbs
This is the perfect dish for a summer dinner party. It is light and tastes delicious. Moreover, it is a really easy way to impress your guests.
You can use any kind of fish you like: red snapper, tilapia, striped bass and trout work well. Make sure the fish is cleaned, but leave the scales on (these help seal in the moisture and makes it easy to peel the skin off when cooked). Make sure you get a fish big enough to feed everyone attending your dinner party.
As your grill heats you can prepare the salt. In a large bowl, mix 3 pounds of kosher salt with 1/2 cup of water until it resembles moist sand. Mound half of your salt mixture on a large piece of foil.
Stuff the inside of your fish with aromatic herbs. A bunch of lemongrass is delicious, or you can use 6 rosemary sprigs, 10 thyme sprigs and 4 bay leaves for a Mediterranean flavor. Place the fish on top of your salt mound and cover the top and side with the remaining salt. Wrap the foil around it so the fish is completely packed in the salt.
Place on the grill and cook for roughly 30 minutes- it depends on the size of the fish. A three pound fish takes 25 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, you can poke it through the salt crust after 20 minutes or so and get the temperature of the fish. It should be 130 degrees. When it is done, remove from the grill and cool for five minutes. Then, remove from the foil and crack open the salt dome- most guests find this VERY impressive!
Peel the skin off, de-bone, plate and serve.
Do you like lemon juice on your fish? Most people do. Here is our absolute favorite of our creative grilling ideas: slice your lemons in half and put on the grill (juicy side down). Grill about three minutes and remove- they will look a little gummy. Grilling caramelizes the lemons which adds a delicious depth to their taste. Squeeze over your fish and enjoy the bright acidity they add to the flavor of the fish. You might find these grilled lemons so delicious that you want to eat them on their own. Or, you can use them to make the following summer cocktail:
Bourbon cocktail with grilled lemon simple syrup
Looking for the perfect cocktail for your Fourth of July celebration? Nothing is more American than bourbon. Except maybe rye, which you can substitute for the bourbon to make this cocktail a little spicier. You can use your grilled lemons to make the simple syrup.