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Impress your guests by grilling these unexpected foods

Kim Grundy is a mom, writer, expert laundry folder and sandwich maker, not necessarily in that order. Raised in Oklahoma, she is now a West Coast gal and lives in California with her husband and two sons, along with one dog, two fish (oo...

Try something different this barbecue season

You know that chicken, fish and steak are delicious when cooked on the grill, but did you know that many other foods you would never expect to see being grilled, such as lettuce, pizza and even cake, don't need to be restricted to the oven?

“There’s no limit to the various tastes and flavors that can be used on the grill — and vegetables deserve grill marks too!” said Earthbound Farm’s Executive Chef Sarah LaCasse. “Grilling is about exploring unique and healthy flavor pairings to create an overall delicious taste.”

Lettuce

Lettuce

Chef LaCasse says her grilled Caesar salad with Parmesan crisp is always a crowd pleaser. “Grilled lettuce? It may sound strange, but try it with romaine hearts the next time you have the grill heated up,” she tells us.

To find the romaine heart, strip the large, mature leaves off a head of romaine lettuce to reveal the pale green inner leaves, she says. “Before grilling whole hearts, brush them with tangy Caesar vinaigrette to add flavor and protect the tender leaves from the heat. A brief stint over the flames gives the romaine a smoky flavor and gently wilts the outside, leaving the innermost leaves crisp." Chef LaCasse adds Parmesan crisps and croutons for the finishing touch.

Give it a try with our recipe for mouthwatering grilled endive and pear salad.

Pizza

Pizza

Chef Rozanna Ogneva says that grilled pizza is not only an easy way to use leftovers, but it is delicious. She says to start with homemade or premade pizza dough, which you flatten or roll into a circle.

"One thing I like to do is just spread some tomato paste mixed with a little water to a thick sauce consistency. Slice up onions, leftover chicken or whatever you have," she says. "Put the dough right on the grill and stretch it out so it’s not too small. "

Chef Ogneva says to flip it over when the crust is light to dark brown (within about five minutes) and then do the same thing to the other side.

"As this is happening, add your sauce, cheese, onions, veggies, leftover meat or whatever you like and put the cover on. Check in five minutes, and if the bottom of the pizza is a dark brown, it's done.”

Ready to serve up some pizza hot off the grill? We've got three grilled pizza recipes guaranteed to please any palate.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

OK, so you can’t actually grill a bloody mary, but food blogger Catherine Mayhew from The South in My Mouth says to grill up the components of a bloody mary to give it that delicious smoky taste.

Citrus: Lemon, lime and oranges

Citrus: Lemon, lime and oranges

You can also grill citrus fruits to add to meat to amp up the flavor. “Grill citrus (oranges, lemons, limes) to squeeze over grilled fish or chicken to give it that extra burst of smoky flavor,” suggests Mayhew.

Avocados

Avocados

Jackie Newgent, chef, nutritionist and author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook, says grilled Hass avocados are a wonderful side dish for a Mexican meal when used to create a smokier guacamole or stuffed with fresh crab or shrimp salad. “Lightly brush a halved, pitted avocado with grapeseed oil, grill over direct medium-high heat just until grill marks form, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and squirt with fresh lime juice,” she says.

Eggs

Eggs

No, we aren’t suggesting you crack an egg over the grill, but Newgent says a boiled farm-fresh egg creates a greater depth of flavor when used in an egg salad or served sliced on a leafy salad. “After soft or hard boiling and peeling an egg, spritz it with cooking spray and grill it over direct medium-high heat until grill marks form,” she says.

Fruit kebabs

Fruit kebabs

Even fruit can be grilled. Maria Zoitas, creator of Maria’s Homemade line of prepared food sold exclusively at Westside Market, shared this delicious fruit kebab recipe. Chop up watermelon, honey melon, cantaloupe and pineapple in one-inch cubes and pass them through the wood skewers. Place onto a hot grill (preheated to 400 degrees F) for about 20 seconds on each side to create grill lines.

“Remove and place them in an oval platter, drizzle the kebabs with honey and sprinkle… chopped pistachios on top and around the grilled fruit kebabs,” she says. Yummy!

Our recipe for grilled fruit kebabs with honey-mint citrus sauce takes this idea to the next level.

Pound cake

Pound cake

Dessert is even more drool-worthy when thrown on the grill. Butter slices of pound cake and cook until you see grill lines. Top off with chocolate (or grilled fruit, such as peaches) for a delicious and easy dessert. Try out this technique in our recipe for grilled pineapple shortcake.

More grilling tips

3 Easy grilled pizzas
How to make brownies on the grill
Cleaning tips for the grill

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