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Grilling: Beyond the Burger

12 July 2017
by Giada De Laurentiis
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Broaden your cookout horizons with great new recipes to make on the grill.

There's no denying that applying flame to meat does amazing things; that surface caramelization and smoky char all seem to intensify its meaty essence in a way that pan-searing or roasting just can't match. So why do we clap on the lid on our grills and let the coals burn down once the burgers or kebabs are done?
Don't let those glowing embers go to waste! Since you've got the coals fired up, why turn on the stove when so many of summer's best dishes can be made even more delicious by a few minutes on the grill? Like meat, fruits and vegetables also come into full bloom when cooked over an open fire, both releasing some moisture and heightening their sweetness while giving them an appealing texture and a mellow depth of flavor. It's also a seriously smart way to give your dishes a boost without any additional fat or calories.

Nearly anything can go on the grill and come off it changed for the better. Thick slabs of eggplant and mushrooms like portabellas in particular become dense, chewy, and concentrated when grilled, making them the perfect stand-in for sliced steak in a sandwich or salad. Thickly slice an eggplant or slap a couple of whole mushroom caps onto the empty space on your grill as you cook (or add them once the main event is off the grill and on the table), and then refrigerate them to slice and use in pastas and grain bowls all week long. Simple rounds of pineapple acquire a candy-sweet veneer as the sugars brown on contact with the hot grill; top them with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce for in instant, effortless, stellar dessert. Even foods with less natural sugar, like greens, cabbages, and lettuce benefit from a touch of char, as the flame softens the sharp edges of the raw bite and adds complexity.
The recipes here are perfect examples of ways to take your grill game to the next level – and keep your cool in the kitchen. If you like your guacamole more smoldering than searing, you'll love this version with grilled chiles and shallots. Delicious little crunchy bits and the tang of lemon make potato salad new again, and without a drop of mayo this is a summer side perfect for packing along on picnics. My gorgeous grilled strawberry shortcake uses a lot less sugar than the conventional version because the grilled berries bring such a vivid explosion of flavor and color to the dish. And if you haven't tried my grilled lettuce salad, now's the time to give it a go.


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