Summertime always evokes thoughts of backyard barbecues and cookouts, but grills can be used to prepare an entire dinner, from appetizers, to the main course, sides and dessert. Give yourself a break from the kitchen, dust off your grilling apron and take yourself outside to cook. Who knows, you might even become the new backyard barbecue king.
No matter what you’re grilling, a cast-iron skillet and sheet pan are helpful, allowing you to cook smaller items that might fall through the grates. Cast iron distributes heat evenly and serves as an excellent warmer when your burgers, hot dogs, etc. are finished, but you’re not yet ready to eat.
A quick, easy snack idea is herbed French bread. You can either slice an entire loaf three-fourths of the way through, or cut it into thick slices. If using a whole loaf, coat both sides of the slices with the herbed butter, then wrap in foil and grill until hot, approximately 10 minutes. If using individual slices, thinly coat the bottoms with mayonnaise to make them extra crispy, then spread the herbed butter on the top. Place on a heavy sheet pan and grill on the upper rack until the butter is melted. Sprinkle the slices with fresh parmesan just before removing from the grill.
Cabbage is one vegetable that holds up well when grilled, especially if it is cooked in a pan. One large head of green cabbage, sliced in half-inch to 1-inch slices with the core removed, will serve three to four people. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with seasonings — Italian, seafood, garlic, etc. An alternative to olive oil and seasoning is Italian dressing, balsamic vinegars or flavored oils. If the cabbage steak falls apart, don’t panic. The flavoring still will be there; simply cut the cabbage tendrils into a more manageable size and serve them with pride. Other vegetable steaks work just as well. Slice yellow squash or zucchini lengthwise, remove the seeds, and follow the same directions. If you normally peel squash before eating it, leave the skin on, to help hold it together while cooking.
Select corn that is fresh, with firm kernels, then remove a couple of layers of the husk, leaving some on the corn, making sure the narrow end still is covered. The remaining layers will steam the kernels while cooking, and protect them from burning. Place the corn directly on the grate or on a cast-iron sheet pan. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, turning occasionally. The corn will become more opaque when it is done. The husks will brown and pull slightly away. Remove the husks as soon as the corn comes off, but be careful, as they will be hot. While the corn is still hot, spread with herbed butter, or butter and Old Bay.
When the vegetables you’ve chosen are almost ready, throw a store-bought, prepared pizza crust on the grill to heat. Then, smear with softened cream cheese, add the veggies with some shredded cheddar, and you’ve got a great appetizer or meal.
From the Sea
Place a piece of fish on top of thin-sliced zucchini or yellow squash, toss raw shrimp on top, with spinach leaves and lemon juice, or put a piece of salmon atop thin asparagus stalks, season as desired, then tent the food with foil. Place on the upper rack of the grill and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Cooked quinoa or lentils also are really tasty as a bed for the fish.
Time for Dessert
When everyone at your cookout gets ready for dessert, slice a pound cake (or angel food cake) and spread a thin layer of butter on both sides, then throw it in your grill pan and heat until both sides turn golden. Serve the slices in bowls with scoops of ice cream, topped with heated raspberry or strawberry jam, and whipped cream. Your guests will be too impressed with your dessert to notice the pound cake isn’t homemade.
– Tiffany Hughes is an Acworth resident and works for the Booth Western Art Museum. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grilled Cabbage Steaks
- 1 large head of green cabbage, sliced horizontally in ½-inch slices
- Montreal steak seasoning
- garlic powder
- black pepper
- Two pinches dry chicken or beef bouillon powder per cabbage slice
- pinch of ground red pepper per cabbage slice
- extra virgin olive oil
Remove the core of the cabbage, using a small paring knife. Remove the veins on the outside of the cabbage before slicing. Drizzle the olive oil on one side and place that side down in your grilling pan. Drizzle oil across the top and sprinkle with Montreal steak seasoning, garlic powder and chicken bouillon. Grill the cabbage for at least 5 minutes, and turn when the edges begin to brown. After flipping, repeat with oil and seasonings, but add the red pepper. Do not turn again. Grill on the back side until the middle of the steak is fork tender. Taste, to check for salt, then remove and serve with balsamic vinegar, if desired.
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 cup fresh basil, oregano, thyme, etc.
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Place the herbs in a food processor and pulse until they are finely ground. Remove any remaining stems. Mix in the butter, and then add the lemon juice. Combine until the herbs are so well incorporated that the butter turns a greenish color. Use immediately, and store leftovers in the fridge.
Note: Dried herbs can be used; just reduce the amount to 1-2 tablespoons.
Grilled Carrot Slaw
- 6 large carrots, peeled
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Using a vegetable peeler, make long thin strips with the carrots. Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil, setting the rest aside. Add the carrots and garlic salt and toss to coat. Grill until the carrots start to wilt a little, stirring frequently.
While the carrots are cooking, mix the remaining oil, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger and sesame seeds in a small bowl. After the carrots are removed from the heat, toss with the liquid mixture and serve.
- 1 bag baby carrots or 4 cups thick-sliced whole carrots
- 1 pound russet potatoes, cubed (about 8 cups)
- 16 ounces baby bella mushrooms, quartered
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 1 cup Italian dressing, or more to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, combine the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms together, then toss in the dressing. Place in a large skillet, cover, and grill for 10 minutes, then stir in the onion. If the pan is dry, add more dressing. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add half a cup of water or chicken stock, and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Taste for salt and pepper, then cook until the sauce is hot.
Note: Asparagus stalks or Brussels sprouts are also good cooked this way.