Labor Day weekend will be here in a couple weeks, which means one of the last big grilling weekends of the summer. Whether you’re grilling on your private patio or balcony or on a backyard porch, switch things up this year by grilling more than just burgers and hot dogs. With just a little creativity and a bit of technical know-how you can wow all your Labor Day guests with the food that comes off your grill.
1. Pizza – Who doesn’t love pizza? From flatbreads to deep dish, it’s clear that pizza isn’t leaving America’s top food list any time soon. Combining the American tradition of grilling with our love of pizza is a match made in Heaven, and it’s even easier than you might think. Feel free to make your own pizza dough if you’re feeling extra ambitious, or buy premade dough from your grocery store or local pizzeria to keep it simple. You could use a preheated pizza stone if you have one, but to get those gorgeous charred grill marks cook the dough directly on the grates. As far as toppings go, the sky’s the limit. You can either choose which course to serve your pizza like making a flatbread for a nice appetizer, or trying this Grilled Fruit Pizza for a healthy(ish) dessert.
2. Tofu – Before you completely skip past this one, give tofu a chance. Tofu can be a great source of protein for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, though it does still have a bit of a bad rap for being a weird flavor or texture. The trick to tofu is choosing the correct type and pairing it with the right flavors and marinade. For grilling purposes make sure to get “firm” or “extra firm” so it can stand up to the high, direct heat cooking method. You should also think about strong flavor profiles for the marinade. Tofu is rather bland by itself, but it’s practically a sponge that soaks up whatever liquid it’s in and is best when the marinade flavors shine. Try this Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu recipe for some inspiration.
3. Quesadillas – Quesadillas are the ultimate minimum effort/maximum reward food. Throw a tortilla in a pan, sprinkle on some cheese, and you have a delicious cheesy, melty treat. Instead of cooking it in a pan, why not throw that tortilla on a grill? It won’t add much time or effort, but the grill will add another dimension of flavor to the cheesy goodness. While you could keep it simple with just cheese for a filling, with just a couple extra ingredients you can make it even better. For example, mix some rotisserie chicken, a can of diced tomatoes and chilies, and barbeque sauce for an easy and delicious Grilled BBQ Chicken Quesadilla.
4. Fruit – Don’t let the savory food have all the fun! Transform your desserts by adding an extra layer of flavor by cooking fruit directly on the grill. The high, direct heat of the grill will caramelize the natural sugar in the fruit while putting some delicious-looking grill marks on the fruit’s flesh. For obvious reasons firmer fruit like stone fruits, watermelon, and pineapple are better suited for grilling, and it’s best to keep the cuts larger for easier handling. While you could keep it simple and let the fruit speak for itself, you could also take inspiration from other desserts like this Honey Rum Grilled Bananas recipe is a play on bananas foster.
5. Meatballs – If you can grill hamburgers you can grill meatballs. After all, what are meatballs if not smaller, rounder burgers with a few other ingredients? Also like burgers, meatballs can be as versatile as you want them to be from type of meat to flavor profile. Instead of putting the other flavors on top, though, with meatballs you mix them with the protein. Take these Grilled Cocktail Meatballs, for example, that take traditional Italian flavors and add a backyard barbeque twist.