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Memorial weekend grilling tips

Published: Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:55 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:30 a.m. CDT

Go beyond hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks on the grill. Here are tips for creating something different on the grill for your Memorial weekend. 

Grilled pizza

Cut up an assortment of favorite vegetables as topping. Coat the vegetables lightly with olive oil. Roast the vegetables on the grill using a special grill pan or a metal colander, or grill them directly on the grates if they’re large enough. Set the vegetables aside. 

Use ready-made pizza crusts or make your own. Lightly brush one side of the crust with olive oil. Then place the crusts onto the grill, oiled side down. Oil keeps the dough from sticking to the grate. 

Over medium heat, grill the pizza crust for one to two minutes, watching it carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Lift the crust off the grill with tongs and place it on a cookie sheet, grilled side up.  Place toppings on the grilled side of pizza crust and move it from the cookie sheet back onto the grill to allow the other side to cook for three to four minutes. Pizza is ready when cheese is melted. 

Grill your Sides

Fruits and vegetables don’t take long to cook on the grill. Here are some guidelines:

Fast-grilling vegetables (about three to five minutes). These include asparagus, broccoli, baby carrots, eggplant, okra, onion slices, pepper chunks, strips of summer squash and tomato wedges.  Longer-cooking root vegetables (about 30 to 45 minutes). These include beets, winter squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Wrap these types of vegetables in foil with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of spices and herbs 

Fruits (about three to five minutes). Thicker pieces of fruit, such as halved peaches or pears, may require a little more time. Thinly sliced fruit requires less time. Fruit can burn easily because of its sugar content, so watch it closely. Also, keep cooking times short for ripe fruit to prevent it from getting mushy. 

Try these ideas for including grilled fruits and vegetables in your meals:

• Marinate a large Portobello mushroom and grill it like a burger. Serve on a bun or by itself like a steak. 

• Soak ears of corn in water for 30 minutes then grill in the husk for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the silk before grilling. 

• Cut vegetables such as squash, peppers, onions and mushrooms into equal-sized pieces. Place on a skewer with shrimp or chunks of turkey breast. Brush with fresh fruit juice or broth and wrap in aluminum foil to grill. 

• Cut tomatoes in half crosswise, brush with canola or olive oil, and add salt, pepper and your favorite spices. Wrap in foil and grill sliced side up for six to eight minutes. 

• Cut fruit, such as apples, pears, mangoes, pineapples, and peaches, into chunks, brush lightly with canola oil, and place on skewers or wrap in foil before grilling. A sprinkle of cinnamon before grilling adds a flavorful touch. Place pineapple slices or bananas sliced lengthwise directly on the grill.

Ideas for grilled desserts

• Grill slices of angel food cake for one to three minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Top with chilled strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. 

• Make cantaloupe kebabs. Brush with a mixture of honey, canola oil and chopped mint. Cook four to six minutes, turning the fruit to grill each side. 

• Fill peach halves with blueberries and sprinkle with brown sugar and lemon juice. Wrap in aluminum foil and grill for 10 – 15 minutes, turning once.

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