Few things are more American than grilling on a warm summer day. However, if you limit yourself to hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken wings, you're missing out. Today's backyard chefs have discovered that almost any food lends itself to the grill. Here, some foods you may not have thought of.

Fruits and Veggies on the Barbie

Grilling fruits and veggies releases natural sugars, which caramelizes them, imparting a rich, nutty taste and dark brown color.

1. Slice beets, zucchini, or squash, rub with olive oil and seasoning, and cook them directly on the grill or in a foil package until browned.

2. Grill asparagus stalks, fava beans, and portabella mushrooms whole.

3. Wrap onions and eggplants in foil and bury in the coals until cooked.

4. Cut cabbage or lettuce heads into wedges, wrap in foil sprayed with non-stick spray, and cook over indirect heat until done to taste.

5. Cut food with empty centers, pits, or nuts—such as peppers, peaches, plums, and avocados—in half, rub with oil, and cook cut side down. Tip: Place cooked peppers into a sealed container for about 15 minutes, then peel off charred skin for homemade roasted peppers.

6. Grill small fruits such as berries whole, and heat over high heat until they burst. A foil pan will keep them from falling into the coals.

7. Slice pineapples and citrus fruits and place directly on grill.

8. Grilled lemons add flavor to dressings and drinks, such as sangria.

Eat your veggies straight from the grill, make grilled veggie paninis, or incorporate them into other recipes. Eat grilled fruits as is, or turn into desserts with a dollop of ice cream, sorbet, or ricotta cheese.

Excite Your Taste Buds With New Entrées for the Grill

Experiment with dishes that are primarily cooked on the stove top or in the oven. You may be pleasantly surprised.

9. Have you ever tried pizza on the grill? Brush olive oil on dough and cook until it has grill marks. Add topping to the grilled side and return to grill until toppings are heated through.

10. Most shellfish grill well. Try clams and mussels in addition to shrimp. Check home goods aisles for grilling baskets to make the task easier.

11. Slice and marinate tofu. Discard marinade and grill three to four minutes on each side.

Decadent Desserts

Remember sitting around the camp fire roasting marshmallows? For a mature twist on a childhood treat, add bread and bananas to your marshmallow skewer, grill, and dip the entire treat into chocolate fondue.

Or, take those grilled fruit ideas above for inspiration. Martha Stewart suggests pineapples with coconut sorbet, plums with ice cream and crumbled cookies, peaches with raspberry puree and vanilla ice cream, or bananas with hot fudge and rum caramel sauce.

Alison Massey MS, RD, LDN, CDE reviewed this article.



"Grilling with Live Fire." Foodandwine.com. Accesses July 15, 2013

"Grilled Vegetables." Foodandwine.com. Accessed July 15, 2013

"10 Summer Foods On The Grill." TheHomeSchoolScientist.com. June 25, 2013.  http://thehomeschoolscientist.com/10-summer-foods-on-the-grill/

Laura Schwecherl. "27 Unexpected Foods To Grill This Summer." Greatist.com, May 23, 2013.

"Grilling Recipes." MarthaStewart.com, Accessed July 15, 2013.