(BPT) - Warmer weather is here, so it’s time to get back to the barbecue! This year will be a little different, though. Because of social distancing, you may not be able to throw large cookouts — you may just be grilling for your family. While everyone can’t grill together, with over two-thirds of Americans owning a grill or smoker, and more than half of them grilling on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, you can all be together in spirit.
Move over, basic burgers and hot dogs
Now that you’re home cooking more than ever, why not take that spirit of experimentation you’ve been following the past few months in your kitchen and use it to create exciting new tastes for your grill?
Experimentation doesn’t have to be complicated — it can just mean adding fun new ingredients to a favorite dish, or taking a meal you’d normally cook in your oven and transforming it for your outdoor kitchen.
Here are four ideas for simple experimenting to help you enjoy cooking outdoors this season from the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association:
1. Go seasonal
Make the most of what’s in season at your grocery store, farmer’s market or in your own garden.
Try this recipe for Grilled Asparagus and Corn Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette from celebrated author and television personality Steven Raichlen.
"Grilled asparagus and grilled corn are two of our favorite summer vegetables," says Raichlen. "This salad brings them together — where else? On a hot grill. Grilling accentuates the sweetness of any vegetable by caramelizing the natural plant sugars. It also imparts an intoxicating smoke flavor.”
Raichlen recommends choosing asparagus with thick spears so they’re easier to pin and grill. He lays the stalks side by side and pins them together to form a raft so they're easier to grill and turn.
To grill other veggies, try small bamboo skewers or toothpicks, or use a grill basket or vegetable grilling grate.
2. Blend it up
If you're having trouble finding your favorite meats at the grocer, add mushrooms to stretch meat further. Mushrooms have a meaty quality and flavor that tastes great, and their moisture content helps keep your burgers juicy. Blend 25–33% chopped mushrooms into meat to make more burgers with the meat you have, while also making them tastier.
Make a delicious Classic Blended Burger. Use a food processor, if you have one, to chop mushrooms quickly — pulse 4-5 times for a finely chopped, crumbly consistency.
3. Breakfast for dinner
A great example of simple experimentation is mixing and matching favorite breakfast foods — only for dinner. And kids love it. Anything you make for breakfast in the kitchen you can make on your grill — except cold cereal, of course. All you need is a cast iron skillet or griddle.
Turn your favorite breakfast foods into an evening meal, like eggs, bacon and cheese in this tasty Chipotle Egg Sandwich recipe. It's easy to make and serve on English muffins, which you can also toast on the grill, of course.
4. Grill your fruit
Everyone enjoys grilling veggies, but have you tried grilled fruit? Capture the true taste of summer by slicing and grilling up firm fruit like apples, pears or pineapple steaks. Fruit kebabs, anyone?
Cooking watermelon on the grill adds a bit of smoke and enhances the fruit’s natural sweetness for a delicious summer treat. In addition to honey, lime and cilantro, this recipe for Grilled Spicy Watermelon adds extra zip with garlic chili sauce.
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce
1 medium watermelon
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1. Preheat grill to high. In bowl, whisk together lime zest, juice, 3 tablespoons of the honey, garlic chili sauce and salt.
2. Cut watermelon into 1-inch-thick wedges. Lightly drizzle each side with remaining honey and place on grill. Grill until just browned, about 2 minutes per side.
3. Place watermelon slices on plate and drizzle with lime dressing. Garnish with cilantro.
Can't wait to get back to the barbecue? Check out whyigrill.org for recipes, tips and inspiration.