The Best Items to Grill (That Aren’t Meat!)
Guys, it’s grilling season! After a long Canadian winter we now want to do everything outdoors – including all of our cooking. A BBQ is a summer must-have item if you can swing it because there’s nothing quite like food from the grill. It doesn’t have to be fancy either, though there are some incredible BBQ’s out there if you happen to have the bank account for it.
I think we can all agree that the BBQ changes the texture and flavour of everything it touches (for the better obvi). We literally Googled “why is food on the BBQ so much better?” and there’s a ton of information – some of which is very scientific – out there. Basically though, according to BBQ Master Napoleon:
“Flavor on food is developed and deepened when heat is applied. Caramelization causes roasted vegetables to get sweeter and meat becomes more savoury. This is called the Maillard Reaction, where the heat from your grill, or the frying pan, and even the toaster, breaks down your food’s proteins into amino acids. These amino acids then react with the sugars present in the food and become this brown mass of tasty tasty goodness. The Maillard Reaction starts when you cook at temperatures around 300 to 500°F, when the food will meet higher exterior temperatures, than what’s on the inside. This triggers the reaction on the outside surface of your food and creates the strong flavors you’re looking for. This is why braising and boiling things doesn’t produce the same result.”
When most people think of throwing food on the BBQ, the first thought is often meat. And with good reason: there’s nothing better than grilled sausages, steak, wings – I mean, this list could go on forever. But you can cook your entire dinner – and dessert – on the grill. Not only does this make your dinner so much easier to throw together, but it can result in an entirely different experience with food items you thought you knew so well.
So, we put together a list of our fave items to throw on the grill – besides meat.
- Eggplant: the skin of an eggplant tastes so much better when it’s got a nice char on it. Slice an eggplant into rounds, brush it with a little bit of olive oil, add salt and you’ve got a versatile side.
- Peppers: these are an all-time BBQ favourite for us. Peppers get sweeter on the grill. Cut a pepper into quarters and serve on their own or with a chimichurri or pesto sauce for extra fun.
- Mushrooms: great grilled whole or on skewers. You can marinate them beforehand in a bit of olive oil, balsamic and garlic so they become a flavour bomb.
- Zucchini: sliced zucchini looks so inviting when it’s stamped with those grill marks. Cut a zucchini in half and slice lengthwise. Or cut them into chunks and skewer them.
- Asparagus: a great item for grilling because they can simply be left whole. We recommend a brush of olive oil pre-grill and a squeeze of lemon and some salt once they’re off. Yum.
- Bok Choy: this may not be the first thing you think of grilling, but it’s delicious on the BBQ. Throw them on the grill whole at a low temp so the leaves don’t burn and you’ve got a great side dish. It’s delicious with just olive oil and salt but if you’re looking to switch things up you can swap olive oil for sesame oil and brush with soy sauce just before it leaves the grill.
- Tomato: grilled tomato takes on a soft texture and becomes incredible juicy but stays firm enough to flip and serve. We recommend using vine tomatoes cut in half.
- Pita: it’s easy to give bread a quick toast on the grill. Cut pita into triangles, give them just a couple minutes per side and you’ve got the perfect accompaniment to a dip.
- Halloumi Cheese: grilled cheese? You better believe it. Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened cheese usually made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk. It reminds us of a mix between feta and mozzarella. It’s chewy and salty. It’s great for grilling because it has a high melting point. It goes great alongside pita and tomato or throw it in a salad.
- Banana: We cut these in half lengthwise to grilled them but we actually don’t recommend that because they became incredibly delicate (still tasty as ever though!). Grill these bad boys whole or still in the peel. If you grill them in the peel, slice the peel from top to bottom lengthwise and grill with the peel side down. Serve with chocolate chips and vanilla ice cream for an extravagant dessert.
- Pineapple: best prepared as rings or chunks on a skewer. Brush with a mixture of melted butter and brown sugar for an extra decadent treat. Add vanilla ice cream and you’re laughing.
- Watermelon: you can go sweet or savoury with this one. When watermelon is grilled the texture changes. It becomes more dense and somewhat chewy rather than watery and granular. It’s also slightly less sweet. If you go savoury, we recommend adding feta cheese, basil, arugula and a balsamic reduction. If you go sweet, keep it simple. Squeeze lime juice over it and drizzle a little honey and add a sprig of mint.
Looking for a drink pairing for your BBQ? We’ve got a whole post dedicated to the ten best daytime cocktails – you’re bound to find the perfect pairing for you here, like a Long Island Iced Tea perhaps.
Planning a BBQ? Check out some of our other posts:
- How to Host an Epic BBQ
- Get Into Some Lawn Games
- Mesquite Infused Bourbon Peach Lemonade
- Have the Ultimate Adult Scavenger Hunt
Walking on Sunshine
And don’t it feel good? This playlist is stacked with bright, feel-good tunes as a great soundtrack for some BBQ’ing.