As Florida’s summer brews, it’s time to brush off those grill grates and stock up on charcoal because grilling season is here! Spending the last decade as a Michigander-turned-Floridian, I grill year round, even through the temperamental afternoon storms. It’s tough to beat those sexy char marks on grilled fresh produce or the smoky aftertaste of a grilled steak. Sure, burgers, hot dogs and ribs are classic fare for a backyard barbecue, but this summer is a great time to step up your grilling game. With an abundance of fresh vegetables and Gulf seafood at our fingertips, the possibilities for grilled goodness are endless! (Note that all of my recipes assume your grill is cleaned, oiled and ready to cook!)
Peaches are in season earlier than usual this year because of the temperate winter weather, and their natural sugars caramelize to perfection on the grill, making even the most novice griller look professional. So, kick off your menu with my grilled peach and prosciutto salad – refreshing but full of flavor, balancing acidity with the creamy burrata and salty prosciutto. Peppery arugula completes the dish, but spring mix is also a great substitute for a milder flavor or swap nectarines in place of peaches for an extra tart zing.
Looking for something more classic? With only five ingredients, my grilled romaine salad is a cinch. Be sure to wash your romaine well as dirt and sediment tends to stick near the butt end of the lettuce.
For vegetarians and vegans who dread eating yet another grilled portobello mushroom at carnivore-centric summer get-togethers, grilled cauliflower steaks are hearty, zesty and completely plant-based. I used purple cauliflower for maximum color, but white cauliflower is equally as tasty. Not only is cauliflower packed with essential nutrients and vitamins but it’s one of the most versatile vegetables on the market.
Nothing screams Florida barbecue like a whole grilled fish! Put those quarantine culinary skills to good use with this impressive grilled snapper with gremolata and lemon recipe. Great grilling recipes don’t need to be complicated.
And finally, no grilling menu is complete without dessert. Just about anything can be prepared in a cast iron skillet to keep with your outdoor summer soiree theme and popcorn is no different. Not only is my recipe for grilled popcorn delish, but it’s ultra light, so it won’t sit like cement in your stomach after a full meal.
Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Salad
6 slices prosciutto, rolled
1 large, fresh burrata
2 cups arugula
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Salt & pepper, as desired
Wash and drain all produce. Quarter peaches and remove pits. Grill peaches over high heat for approximately three minutes or until grill marks are present. Assemble ingredients on top of a bed of fresh arugula, with burrata ball in the middle and prosciutto arranged around the greens. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and dust with salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
Grilled Romaine Salad with Corn and Avocado
1 head of romaine lettuce
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 ear of sweet corn, shucked and cut off the cob
1 each avocado (small diced)
Salt & pepper, to taste
Turn grill to medium high and brush with oil or cooking spray. Slice head of romaine lettuce in half lengthwise, keeping it intact at the core. Remove any brown or damaged outside leaves. Brush the sliced side with oil or cooking spray and lay flat on grill. Pressing down on the lettuce with tongs, cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove from grill, dust with lemon zest and top with tomatoes, corn and avocado. Right before serving, hit the salad with the fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt to make the flavors pop!
Grilled Cauliflower Steaks
1 head cauliflower
Salt & pepper, to taste
Cut the cauliflower down the center and into three-quarter to one-inch pieces to make “steaks.” Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Grill over high heat, approximately five minutes on each side or until cauliflower is tender. Serve with desired choice of sides.
Grilled Snapper with Gremolata and Lemon
1 whole fish (cleaned, gutted and descaled)
2 whole lemons, sliced into wheels
Zest from 1 lemon
3 Tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (pasted)
2 anchovy fillets (pasted)
Salt & pepper to taste
Depending on how large your fish is, cut 3-4 diagonal slits across the flesh and through the back bone on both sides. Stuff the cavity and slits with lemon wheels. Assemble the gremolata by mixing lemon zest, chopped parsley, pasted garlic and pasted anchovies together until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread mixture liberally on both sides of the fish. Oil a grill basket and carefully lay fish in basket on grill over high heat. Close the grill lid and let fish cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until juices run clean. Serve as whole fish.
Grilled Cast Iron Skillet Popcorn
Serves four with an 8-inch skillet
⅓ cup canola oil (or an oil with a high smoke point)
½ cup popcorn kernels
Turn grill on high, roaring heat. Pour oil into a skillet, top with lid and heat cast iron. Once the skillet is hot, carefully pour kernels in the oil (making sure they are not completely submerged – you’re still grilling, not deep frying) and cover the skillet with a lid. Wearing an oven mitt, gently shake the skillet every 30 seconds to avoid burning the kernels. Once you hear popping, do not open the lid! Keep shaking skillet until popping ceases. Carefully remove skillet from the heat and dress popcorn with your favorite seasoning.