Summer Grilling Ideas to Impress Your Friends & Family

By: Aaron B. Cohen | June 30, 2021

Once Memorial Day hits, it’s officially summer grilling season in the D. With weather this beautiful, why would you cook anywhere else? The problem is that for many — even “grill masters” — the barbeque is seen as a one-dimensional tool. Steaks and chicken, burgers and dogs, grilled veggies. We all know the drill.

Here’s the truth: The grill is versatile. Limitless. Enough with the notion that an open flame is designated to a specific category of cuisine. This summer, live a little. And throw something new on the hot iron. Try out these grilling ideas to impress your friends and family this summer.

Romaine Lettuce

It seems counterintuitive – crisp, leafy greens on the fire. But when done right, this simple ingredient can become the star of just about any dish. Forget the bagged stuff. Buy a whole head and slice it into thick wedges. Then, place them directly on top of the flame until you get those perfect grill marks on each side. Eat as is, or dress it like a Caesar for a simple, healthy salad that will blow your friends’ mind.

Fruit

Pineapple is a classic. But have you ever tried peaches? Watermelon? Experiment with chili flakes, spice and salt. Serve as a side, add to a salad or top it with vanilla ice cream or coconut sorbet. Want to highlight fresh, local ingredients? Lay down a sheet of tin foil and empty a container of perfectly tart Michigan cherries or blackberries. There are no rules here, just an opportunity to discover your new favorite snack.

Granola

Summer is your chance to double down on grilling fruit. On the same sheet of tin foil, pour on your favorite granola. It doesn’t take long for the cereal to toast, which, when mixed with your fruit, transforms into a five-minute cobbler. 

Shellfish

We associate clams, oysters and mussels with boiling pots and rich butter sauces. But if you really want to hone in on their true flavor, opt for the open flame. It’s easier than any other protein as there is no need to check the temperature. Once the shells pop open, you’re good to go.

Brie Cheese

All it takes is a baked brie to make you the hero of the dinner party. But if it’s a grill-out, don’t be afraid to throw that wheel on the fire! The grill lines look beautiful and if you’re using charcoal, the smokiness will add nuance to the mild, slightly funky brie.