A number of years ago, my oven went up in flames – literally. We ended up without an oven for a few months and this created the necessity of finding different cooking methods. Necessity sparked creativity. It was my daughter’s birthday soon after the oven incident – I ended up making (very successfully) a chocolate cake in the crock pot, mac and cheese and nachos on the BBQ, and more. I didn’t miss my oven as much as I thought I might.
This summer, as the hot weather sets in even more I find myself more inspired to cook on my BBQ and avoid heating up the house by using my stove or oven. My taste buds, stimulated by the smokiness of the grill, prompt me to experiment with new recipes and foods to cook on my BBQ. The BBQ is a great way to introduce flavour into your food and it can give us so much more than burgers.
Here are some of my favourite ways to be creative with the BBQ:
Grilled Tofu Steaks– Marinate a firm tofu in your favourite marinade or a simple combination of soy sauce, olive oil, honey and fresh minced garlic. Grill each side until golden brown.
Polenta – Make a batch of polenta, chill in the refrigerator until set, cut into squares or fun shapes, brush with oil and grill. Top with grilled veggies, as well as a pesto or marinara sauce.
BBQ Stir Fry – Use a combination of vegetables such as onions, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, or asparagus. Use a simple sauce of soy sauce, oil, ginger, garlic and honey. Cook in a grill wok, stirring often. Toss in spinach when vegetables are tender and cook just until wilted. Serve over rice.
Grilled Veggie Focaccia Sandwich – Grill some peppers, onions, zucchini and eggplant and use as a sandwich filling. Split the Focaccia bread in half and warm on the grill. Brush with a basil pesto mayonnaise, top with grilled veggies and cheese (optional). This is one of my daughter’s favourites; she says she knows summer is near when I make this for the first time – if summer had a flavour, this would be it!
Quesadillas – Too hot to cook in the house? Take your quesadillas outdoors to cook them on the grill. The BBQ gives the tortillas a smoky crunchiness. Cook on a lower heat so as not to burn the tortilla and to give the cheese time to melt.
Grilled Haloumi – Take thick slices of this Greek goat and sheep milk cheese, brush with olive oil and grill until lightly browned on the outside. Serve immediately while still crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside.
Babaganoush – poke some eggplants with a fork, then grill them up until charred and wilted. Whip up a batch of smoky baba ganoush – our favourite way to enjoy eggplant.
Grilled Fruit – Don’t forget dessert! Take some fruit (fruits high in sugar work best) such as peach halves, pineapple slices or bananas (cut in half lengthwise), brush with a neutral oil such as canola and grill until their sugars begin to caramelize and turn golden on the outside. Alternatively, baste with a mixture of dark rum and demerara sugar while cooking. Serve over a bowl of vanilla ice cream or top with whipped cream.