Going beyond meat at the barbecue
How to grill cheese, watermelon and kale on the barbecue
Is there anything that isn’t made better by the smoky sear of a grill? Nope. Nothing. If you can eat it, then generally, you can likely grill it. So it’s a shame that most people stick to the usual barbecue suspects when it comes to outdoor cookery over a flame. Yes, we’re looking at you Mr. Steak and Ms. Chicken Breast. From shellfish to seasonal fruits, it’s time to think of the grill as an ultra-versatile cooking medium that is ready to prepare all sorts of food that can boost your rides. Try sending these items to the fire to break away from hamburger’s long shadow.
Hailing originally from Cyprus, halloumi is a squeaky cheese that is both a source of protein and salt making it a great recovery food after a spirited ride. But what’s truly great about this dairy import is that it doesn’t melt when heated. You can toss slabs on the grill like you would a hunk of steak. The outside becomes crispy while the interior turns velvety. Look for blocks of halloumi in Middle Eastern markets or at cheese counters in some larger supermarkets.
Fire it up Place the halloumi onto one of its long sides and slice lengthwise into two big slabs. Brush with oil and heat until grill marks appear on both sides, one to two minutes per side. Or skewer chunks of halloumi for a riff on kebabs.
If the only seafood you drop on the grill grates is salmon or tuna, it’s time to go fish for exciting alternatives, such as briny mussels. Not only are these shellfish inexpensive, packed with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fats and ultra-sustainable, they are crazy easy to grill. What better way to feed a hungry backyard crowd?
Fire it up Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to mediumhigh. Rinse mussels under cold water and discard any open ones that don’t close shut when tapped. Place mussels on a grill grate, close lid and grill until the shells pop open (four to six minutes). Remove mussels from grill with tongs and place in a large bowl. Discard any that did not open. Squeeze on some lemon juice and scatter on a bunch of fresh herbs.
Corn isn’t the only vegetable you should be grilling. Kale can also benefit from a touch of char. You’ll reap the rewards of its nutritional punch, including huge amounts of immune-boosting vitamin A and bone-strengthening vitamin K. Use Tuscan (dinosaur) kale because its sturdy flat leaves are less likely to burn than curly kale, which has edges prone to singeing.
Fire it up Trim tough ends from a bunch of Tuscan kale, place in a bowl and toss with oil. In batches, place kale on grill and cook over medium heat, turning once, until slightly crispy and darkened in a few spots, about two minutes. Chop kale into 2" pieces and place in a large bowl along with other veggies and dressing.
There are few ways to beat the heat and to stay hydrated all summer long better than eating copious amounts of watermelon. As a bonus, the quintessential fruit of the season is a source of the potent antioxidant lycopene. Most people would not think to grill up slabs of watermelon, but when you do, they become downright meaty. They can be used in both sweet and savory applications, such as a topping for yogurt or salads.
Fire it up Slice about a half inch off the bottom of a watermelon half so it sits flat. Slice away the rind. Turn the melon block on its side and cut it into slabs and then slice each piece in half so you have several watermelon half moons. Brush watermelon with oil and gently season with salt. Place on hot grill grate and heat until grill marks appear, about three minutes per side.
Grilling tofu is a surefire way to make the plant-based protein more palatable, perhaps even crave-able. Since recent evidence suggests people who get more protein from plants than from meats are less likely to succumb to life-shortening chronic diseases. The key is to rid tofu slabs of their excess water so they can get a good sear.
Fire it up Slice tofu along its width into two slabs. Line a cutting board with a couple sheets of paper towel. Top with tofu pieces and a couple more sheets of paper towel. Press gently to extract excess liquid. Brush both sides of the tofu with oil, and season with salt and chili powder. Grill tofu squares over medium-high heat until golden and grill marks appear, about four minutes per side. Give the tofu a 90-degree turn halfway through cooking each side to produce a nice cross-hatch pattern and even better flavour.
“Watermelon can be used in both sweet and savory applications.”