PCA 2020

Cooking Al Fresco

If your grill is relegated only to burgers and steaks, read on. It’s a lifesaver when it’s too hot to cook.

I hate being hot. Especially when I have to come up with dinner, it's 32 degrees outside and my oven is cranked to 400°. The discovery that pizza on the grill is the best ever made me think: what else could I be cooking outside on the grill? Anything that requires direct, intense heat, really:

GrillingQuesadillas: this is easiest if you do the kind with one flour tortilla folded in half rather than two sandwiched – it’s easier to flip smaller ones on the grill. Fill with any assortment of grated cheese, crumbled goat cheese or feta, chopped cooked chicken, beef, pork or shrimp, drained canned black beans, tuna, grilled vegetables, caramelized onions, or whatever else you think would work. To make s’mores quesadillas, sprinkle with chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate and mini marshmallows, fold over and cook, flipping once or twice, until golden and melty. These are actually much cleaner than s’mores made traditionally, using graham crackers.

Real grilled cheese: grilled cheese sandwiches live up to their name when they are cooked on the grill. For extra cheesiness, stir grated parmesan (as much as you like) into softened butter before you spread it on the outside of the bread. For a real treat, cook a few slices of bacon, crumble them and put them into the sandwich with the cheese. Finely chopped fresh tomato and purple onion inside is delicious too.

Grilled French toast: mix eggs with a little milk and vanilla, just like you would normally make French toast. Use nice thick French or country-style bread, white, sourdough, whole wheat, or even raisin, dip in the egg until nicely soaked and place directly on the grill. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cook until nice and brown and grill-marked. If the bread is thick, close the lid to help it cook through. (You can make an entire brunch on your grill: throw some Spolumbo’s chicken or breakfast sausages or a couple of ham steaks alongside the French toast, and top it all with grilled fruit.)

Grilled fruit: cut peaches and mangoes in half or in wedges, pit them and place cut-side down on the grill until softened and grill-marked. Serve over the grilled French toast. (Grilled fruit would also be great in a grilled cheese sandwich, using brie!)

Panini: Brush good-quality bread with olive oil with a clove of garlic squished in, fill with whatever you like (my favorite is sliced provolone, ham and roasted red pepper), place on the grill and weigh it down with a foil-wrapped brick or a small, heavy frying pan. Cook until golden and melted.

And of course, back to pizza: it’s best cooked on your grill, whether you’re making frozen pizza or homemade; grilling gives it a nice crunchy crust. Throw a circle of fresh dough directly onto the grill – it won’t stick. If you want it extra-crunchy, wait for a few minutes until it browns on the bottom, flip it over, then spread the golden top with tomato sauce and sprinkle with toppings and cheese, then close the lid until everything melts. Otherwise cook the dough for a minute, then top with sauce and toppings right away without flipping it over. If it’s browning too quickly on the bottom, move it around on the grill (most have hot spots), or turn the temperature down and close the lid for a bit.

Grill on!


Every day Julie posts her own dinner solutions on her new website – dinnerwithjulie.com 

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