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7 Things You Never Thought to Grill

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Grilled Tomato and Broccoli Rabe Salad

Grilled Tomato and Broccoli Rabe Salad

Are your cookouts getting a bit routine? Are the same menus of burgers and steaks or veggies and tofu not packing their usual magic?

The good news is that there’s practically nothing you can’t grill, and the delicious alchemy of fire and smoke can transform even the most familiar ingredients into something new and exciting.

Here are seven foods you might not have tried grilling yet but really should.

Broccoli Rabe

You probably know this Italian favorite sautéed with garlic and red pepper, but it’s also fantastic grilled. Just make sure you lay it on the grill sideways so it doesn’t fall through the grates, then grill it just until the stems are barley tender and the tips are lightly browned.

It’s irresistible coated with a light vinaigrette before cooking and served with steak Florentine, or try this terrific vegetarian Grilled Tomato and Broccoli Rabe Salad.

Cheese

Most cheeses would make a mess if slapped on the grill, but there are a few delicious exceptions. Most notable is halloumi, a dense, briny, goat and sheep milk cheese from Cyprus. Grilling turns it wonderfully seared and caramelized on the outside and meltingly hot and delicious inside.

Try it in these veggie-packed Marinated Halloumi Cheese Kabobs with Herbs as an appetizer, side dish or main course.

Chickpeas

Grilling leaves chickpeas smoky and nutty on the outside and lusciously soft and rich inside. They’re an unexpected addition to a platter of grilled vegetables and big on “Wow” – not bad for a humble legume!

You can use a perforated grilling pan made especially for the barbecue, or follow this recipe for Smoky Grilled Chickpeas with Eggplant and Tomatoes and cook them in a heavy skillet.

Smoky Grilled Chickpeas with Eggplant and Tomatoes

Smoky Grilled Chickpeas with Eggplant and Tomatoes

Oysters

Grilled oysters are an absolute favorite of mine for two reasons. The first is the fabulous nutty-briny flavor they get when exposed to smoke. And the second is that the heat causes the shells to pop open, no shucking required – a big convenience when you want to serve a couple dozen.

Just place raw, scrubbed oysters rounded side down directly on a hot grill. Cover the grill and cook until they pop open, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer them with tongs to a platter, let cool a minute or two, and then pry off the top shell. Serve with grilled lemon, garlic butter or cocktail sauce.

Salad

Yes, you can grill your whole salad, lettuce and all! Romaine lettuce in particular will give you good results from grilling, staying crisp and crunchy when briefly placed over high heat. Lettuce relatives like radicchio, endive and Belgian endive also give you very tasty results.

Easy, super-tasty Grilled Tomato and Romaine Salad is a great starter recipe, and you can customize it by adding crumbled feta or blue cheese or any number of other toppings.

Grilled Tomato and Romaine Salad

Grilled Tomato and Romaine Salad

Sweet Potatoes

Don’t wait until fall to enjoy sweet potatoes. They mix beautifully with bright summer herbs, and grilling them means you’ll get big flavor without having to add a lot of fat.

Try Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro-Lime Dressing for a super-healthy, nutrient-packed addition to your next cookout.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Seitan
High-protein, wheat-based seitan is one of the most under-utilized meat substitutes. Its chewy, toothsome texture makes it excellent for the grill.

This vegan recipe for Chimichurri Seitan Skewers serves it with Argentina’s famous herb sauce for a new classic.

What are your favorite odd-ball ingredients to grill?

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