Tired of Burgers?
Shake up your summer barbecue routine by thinking beyond the same-old patties and dogs.
For some, barbecuing means an eternal rotation of hamburgers and hot dogs. But with a little creativity and a few minutes of added prep time, there are enough healthy, tasty possibilities to grill a different meal every night for the rest of the summer, without ever having to sear a single link or patty.
Explore the meat and produce departments at your grocery store for new options to throw onto the grates. Seafood, lamb, tofu, veggies, lean buffalo steaks or tender quail can all be dressed up with the right seasonings and cooked to perfection on a standard gas or charcoal grill.
"A real favorite of mine is to lightly rub portobello mushrooms in olive oil," says Diane Morgan, coauthor of Dressed to Grill: Savvy Recipes for Girls Who Play with Fire. "They get very moist and meaty on the grill." Morgan suggests adding a little bit of balsamic vinegar for extra flavor near the end of cooking. She likes to slice up the 'shrooms and toss them into pasta along with grilled onions, but they're also great as burger stand-ins. "I might add some low-fat mayo or a little pesto to pick up the color," she says.
Aye, there's the rub
You'll want to add flavor to these meats and fish before they hits the heat. A low-calorie combination of salt, pepper, fresh herbs, dried spices and possibly a dash of citrus or oil is all it takes to prepare anything from lamb chops to bison for healthy gourmet grilling. Try these tasty combinations:
For poultry such as chicken, turkey, quail or capon:
- Blend parsley, cilantro, garlic, paprika, cumin, thyme, salt, pepper, lemon juice and a dash of cayenne in a food processor. Coat the bird with the rub. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours, turning occasionally. Remove 30 minutes before grilling.
- For smaller birds, like quail, blend parsley, garlic, lemon, rosemary and a bit of olive oil. Split the birds so they lay flat on the grill. Cook them for no more than 5 minutes a side.
For red meat such as beef, bison and buffalo:
- Mix ginger, Chinese five-spice powder, salt, pepper and a little bit of vegetable oil for an Asian flavor. Rub into the meat and let sit for a few minutes before grilling.
- Combine salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, paprika, thyme, chili powder, dark brown sugar and cinnamon for a spicy, sweet rub. Massage into the meat and let it sit for an hour before cooking.
For fish steaks:
- For full-flavor fish such as tuna or swordfish, press fish into a blend of salt and pepper until it's completely coated on both sides. Grill to desired doneness, then spoon store-bought olive paste (tapenade) on top before serving.
- For lighter fish such as halibut or mahi mahi, rub fish with salt, pepper and olive oil before grilling. Serve topped with mango salsa made with fresh mango, red onion, jalapeño pepper, cilantro and lime juice.
- Coat meat with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Before grilling, coat one side with rosemary and one side with oregano. Grill directly over a medium-hot fire.
- Rub cumin, coriander and crushed garlic into the pork using a little olive oil to moisten it. Let sit a few minutes before grilling.