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10 Delicious dishes you never thought you’d serve at a BBQ

If there’s one thing I know from living deep in the heart of Texas, it’s barbecue. Here in South Texas, our barbecue season extends to at least nine months out of the year. In fact, it’s totally normal to fire up the grill on Christmas Day.

But the thing about this statewide barbecue obsession is that it can get old real fast. Though barbecue is finger-licking good and will always be one of my favorites, I’ve had enough to fill a lifetime. This summer, I want to do things different. I want to entertain outside, drink with friends and enjoy a few foods I’ve never tried before.

What’s that they say about the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results? If you want to host a unique barbecue that will pique your friends’ interests and whet their palates, then you’re going to have to mix things up. Try any one of these unexpected BBQ recipes to keep taste buds entertained.

Main dishes

1. Grilled spaghetti


Image: Barilla

If you can’t stomach the thought of a hot bowl of carbs in your belly while sitting in the sun, you’re not alone. With the exception of pasta salad, you normally won’t find pasta at a barbecue. But for every bowl of spaghetti, there’s someone who’s willing to think outside the box and come up with a solution: The aptly named You Can Grill That blog breaks down how to use cooked pasta to soak up that delicious chargrilled flavor in five minutes or less. Elevate that bowl of grilled noodles by turning it into grilled spaghetti with a grilled chicken and vegetable skewer on the side.

2. Grilled oysters


Image: The Grillin’ Fools

Compared to heavier barbecue dishes like beef and pork, seafood always wins out as an all-time summer favorite. Slippery, salty and satisfying oysters are even better. Scott Thomas of The Grillin’ Fools proves you can successfully grill just about anything with his quick and tasty recipe for grilled oysters with herb butter.

3. Pumpkin crabcakes

Crab cakes

Image: Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

If you’re thinking that there’s no way pumpkin belongs at a summer barbecue, that’s where you’d be wrong. Russ Faulk, grill master at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, believes that pumpkin is perfect to serve on a hot summer’s day when paired with a seasonal favorite like crabmeat. Throw these pumpkin crabcakes onto the barbie for your main course, served with a side of spicy mayonnaise.

Side dishes

4. Deconstructed falafel salad


Image: Kristin Guy/Dine X Design

When it’s way too hot outside to down a falafel, a deconstructed falafel salad is the only logical choice. Not only is this salad amazing to look at, but it is popular for a reason — it’s easy to throw together when you use the helpful chart provided by Dine X Design.

More: 17 Incredible no-cook recipes to keep you cool this summer

5. Grilled Brie and bacon


Image: The Grillin’ Fools

Cheese is another unpopular barbecue food, mostly because it’s so darn filling. But take a sophisticated cheese like Brie, throw it onto the grill, and top it with bacon, and watch the entire wheel disappear.

6. Grilled ratatouille


Image: Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

Traditionally a French vegetable stew served hot, this summer ratatouille is nothing short of ingenious. Faulk of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet dreamed up a new take on the culinary classic: Cook it up on a hot grill to pair with any barbecue meat.

7. Spaghetti squash with summer vegetables

Spaghetti squash

Image: Sonima

So maybe you still fall into the camp of those who think pasta has no place at a barbecue, and I certainly won’t judge you for that. But prepare to have your mind blown by the versatile wonder that is spaghetti squash — ideal to serve as a light and unique vegetable side when paired with summer vegetables, shiitake bacon and pesto vinaigrette. This alternative barbecue side works on a few levels: It caters to both food sensitivities and restricted diets, since it’s naturally gluten-free.

More: Sneak some superfoods into your BBQ with bacon-quinoa salad


8. Fruit salsa and cinnamon chips

Fruit salsa

Image: Homemade Interest

This is the kind of party dip that is going to make your guests do a double take. We all know summer and fruit are synonymous, and we also know that a typical yogurt fruit salad is so played. Consider this easy-to-make fruit salsa the perfect compromise — a cooling dessert dip made with your favorite summer fruits and home-baked cinnamon tortilla chips.

9. Roasted pineapple upside-down cake

Pineapple cake

Image: Angry Orchard

Most of the time, you’re lucky if you find a bowl of fresh fruit at an outdoor barbecue — heavy dessert will never make it through an afternoon in the hot sun. But if a Top Chef endorses it, I’m all for it: In partnership with Angry Orchard, Kevin Gillespie, cookbook author and restaurateur of Bravo’s Top Chef Duels, has created a delectable roasted pineapple upside-down cake that he swears by for a summer cookout.


10. Grilled sangria


Image: Kristin Guy/Dine X Design

As they would say in Jerry Maguire, you had me at grilled sangria. Kristin Guy of Dine X Design calls this refreshing grown-up drink one of her summertime faves to add an “interesting twist” to a barbecue. Keep the grill fired up for the signature component of this drink: grilled cherries paired with homemade vanilla syrup.

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