Too Hot To Fire Up The Oven? So Fire Up The Grill

grilled egg plant with red onion

Cat's Commentary

meat and vegies on the grillIf you would like to keep the heat out of the kitchen and outside where it belongs, the grill or barbecue pit is a lifesaver. My personal preference is an old-fashioned style barbecue with real wood for fuel. I think charcoal briquettes have a "lighter fluid" smell.  Unless you put soaked wood chips in a pan on a gas grill, how do you get that traditional smokey flavor? Wait, gas grill owners -- before you clonk me over the head with a heavy set of tongs, let me explain.

I don't want to imply that you can't have great-tasting meat, veggies, or even fruit or pizza dough and garlic bread on a gas grill, because I have been treated to some delicious meals cooked on them. It's just my primitive cave-dweller self coming out I guess.  I just love that oak-barbecued smell and taste above all others.

Well, I'd better get right to the recipes, as after this I have an appointment with some museum officials. Seems they want to display me in a diorama featuring ancient cooking methods.   

image:  meat and veggies on grill - Juriah

Featured Recipe: Saffron Garlic-Herb Chicken

Ingredients
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron or turmeric
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 pinch dried sage
Instructions

Place chicken in a shallow glass pan or dish. In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the chicken. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover the dish and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill for medium heat. Prepare the grill grate by brushing on a light coating of vegetable oil.

Remove chicken from marinade and place on the grill for about 10 minutes on each side. The chicken should be slightly charred on the outside and the juices should run clear. Or, to be sure meat is cooked use an instant read meat thermometer.

Veggies On The Grill

Grilling does wonders towards enhancing the flavor of vegetables.  The sometimes 'bland' vegetable gets smoky and caramelized and becomes a delightful side dish or main vegetarian course.  Here are some basics.

Basic Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 4 crushed peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano  (or up to 1 tablespoon of your favorite fresh herb.

Combine marinade in a small bowl.  Brush vegetable slices with the marinade and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.  Grill over medium heat about 7-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the vegetable slices.

More Vegetable Grilling Methods

Skewers

Squash, bell peppers and mushrooms are pretty and tasty assembled onto skewers then cooked on the grill.

Grill new potatoes on a skewer.  The potatoes can be par-boiled first for about 12 minutes then threaded onto skewers and roasted for about 10 minutes over hot coals or medium heated gas grill.

Foil Packets

Combine a variety of vegetables such as zucchini strips, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.  Keep slices and pieces uniform in size for even cooking.  Make a foil pouch using heavy duty foil.  Add vegetables, some fresh herbs and either a dollop of butter or olive oil.  Fold the packet tightly and grill over medium-hot coals turning occasionally; about 10 minutes. 

How About An Outdoor Pizza

Pizza is a hit with adults as well as kids and it can be even more fun prepared outdoors on your grill.  We suggest picking up some pizza "skins" all prepared at your local pizza joint.  If you have freezer space you can even freeze them so you have them on hand when you need them.

Here is a basic grilled pizza recipe.  You can always modify the toppings as you wish and adjust cooking times as needed.

Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives 
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or more, if you prefer) 
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Instructions

Preheat grill for high heat. Heat olive oil with garlic for 30 seconds in the microwave. Set aside.  Brush grill grate with garlic flavored olive oil. Carefully place one piece of dough on hot grill. The dough will begin to puff almost immediately. When the bottom crust has lightly browned, turn the dough over using two spatulas. Working quickly, brush oil over crust, and then brush with 2 tablespoons tomato sauce.

Arrange 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/8 cup sliced black olives, and 1/8 cup roasted red peppers over crust. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese and 2 tablespoons basil. Close the lid, and cook until the cheese melts. Remove from grill, and set aside to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the second pizza.

Favorite Grilling Tool

The Hinged Grilling Basket

grilling basket

I love using a hinged basket for grilling vegetables. You can get them with a non-stick coating which minimizes cleanup too.  Vegetable slices can be turned more easily when secured in the basket rather than individually.

Cathie Campbell - Food Editor

cathie campbell
Cat Campbell is a freelance writer living in California, and has been writing food columns for several years. Future plans include gathering her best recipes into a cookbook. She was inspired at an early age by her Italian Nana, who was either in her vegetable garden or her ranch kitchen.
author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.