37 Weird Things to Grill – A New Take On Summer BBQ Foods


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Summer is a time for family, friends and neighbors to get together and break bread. And when the weather is so giving, it only makes sense that meals are held outside as often as possible. BBQs flush with food, music, fresh air and conversation strengthens ties, solutes the sun and offer healthy ways to prepare the foods we are lucky enough to find so bountiful during the season’s sun-shining months. So grab your neighbors, and put together a delicious homemade menu for the BBQ.

Since we’re all the creative type here, what with our imaginations to repurpuse objects, find the beauty in the disregarded and craft something out of nothing, we might as well channel these energies to man’s most definitive discovery: fire. Burgers, dogs, sausages, they’re all great, but what can we do that is surprising, unusual, or downright weird? Here’s a list to get you started.

Grilled Clams

Grilled clams and mussles, photo from: bbqbackyard.com

Grilled clams and mussles, photo from: bbqbackyard.com

Clams are so delicious in the summer, plus they’re easy, quick and relatively inexpensive. And cooking them on the grill is fun! The cooking process is so quick, as is the eating, that you’ll be firing them up and popping them in your mouth as you go. A perfect snack to keep the fam gathered at the hearth.

Scrub and soak your littleneck clams but keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to use them. Place the clams directly on the grill and cover for 2 minutes. They’re done when they’ve popped open – if the never open, throw them out, there’s always one or two in a bunch. Remove the clams as they’re ready, and continue to add more to the grill as there’s room.

When removing the clams, be mindful not to spill out any of their natural delicious juices. Set them in a large, shallow bowl with any of the following combinations:

  • Mashed garlic, melted butter, salt, lemon, finely chopped parsley, and a pinch of cayenne.
  • Chopped and cooked bacon, lemon and red pepper flakes, mixed with a bit of the bacon fat, and some olive oil as necessary.
  • Saute finely chopped garlic and onion in olive oil, add half a cup of beer, cook on high for 4 minutes.
  • An Octopus

    Whole marinated and grilled octopus. Cut apart tentacles if that makes it easier to handle.

    Whole marinated and grilled octopus. Cut apart the tentacles if that makes it easier to handle.

    That’s right, an octopus. Your local fish monger might have these frozen, otherwise ask them to order one for you, and 99% of the time, it will be cleaned and ready to be cooked – just check with them to make sure. Working with a thawed, whole octopus, beat the head and tentacles with a meat tenderizer or a hard, wide implement. Spend about 15 minutes on the beating. (eek, I know.) What you’re doing is tenderizing the meat so it isn’t too chewy. After your workout, add the octopus into a bag or non-reactive bowl along with a marinade of vinegar, black pepper and olive oil. Let it soak over night.

    Fire up the grill and place the whole octopus directly on it. Depending on the weight of the octopus and heat of the grill, your octpus will take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes. Continue to baste the octopus with the marinade as it cooks. Use a sharp knife to check the resistance – when it gives you a slight push back, you’re ready to go.

    You and seven friends are in for a treat.

    Salad Kebabs

    Tomato, mozzarella, basil skewer, photo from bedandbreakfastfoodie.com

    Tomato, mozzarella, basil skewer, photo from bedandbreakfastfoodie.com

    Who said meat has to take the center stage of a grill fest? Probably the same people that said salad has to be served in bowls. Clearly, these people never had Salad Kababs. Be creative and put whatever you want on your kabab, just follow the one golden skewer rule: make sure all the pieces are relatively the same size.

    Take your favorite salad items and skewer them to grill, or try the following combinations:

  • The Caesar: hunk of romaine, hunk of bread, hunk of par-cooked chicken breast or fully raw shrimp, when done, douse with Caesar dressing and grated Parmesan.
  • The Caprese: Mozzarella, tomato, bread, garnished with chopped basil and olive oil, don’t leave this on too long or your mozz will be all over your grill.
  • The Nicoise: Hunks of fresh tuna steak, cured black olives, par-boiled potato, grape tomatoes, garnish with chopped hard boiled egg and capers, and a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, minced shallot, Dijon mustard, bit of garlic, anchovy paste (optional), and olive oil.
  • Speaking of Salads…

    Grilled Romaine heads, photo from foodjimoto.com.

    Grilled Romaine heads, photo from foodjimoto.com.

    Quarter a head of romaine the long way so that the root keeps each of the 4 pieces together. Lightly brush with olive oil and put the lettuce cut-side down directly on the grill. Char till you have gorgeous grill marks. Serve with any of the following:

  • Red wine vinegar and crumbled bleu cheese or bleu cheese dressing (or a little bit of both?).
  • Add cooked bacon bits to the above.
  • Balsamic vinegar, black pepper, sunflower seeds.
  • Olive oil, salt and fresh lemon.
  • Celery Root

    A gorgeous celery root aka celeriac, photo from ask.com.

    A gorgeous celery root aka celeriac, photo from ask.com.

    Not everyone knows what to do with this knobby creature, but we got an easy, sure fire winner right here. As you’re getting your grill geared up, cut the celery root in half and place it cut-side down on the grill, letting it sit in the low-heat section for a while. You’ll know it’s done when it’s heavily charred on the outside, but it’ll be creamy like mashed potato on the inside. It’s important to cook the root until well-done so that all of it’s natural bitterness has left the building.

    Mama Mia Pizza Pie

    Shrimp with Pesto and Grilled Asparagus with Ricotta Grilled Pizza, photo on cookingwithaplan.blogspot.com.

    Shrimp with Pesto and Grilled Asparagus with Ricotta Grilled Pizza, from on cookingwithaplan.blogspot.com.

    You can make your life easy by buying some ready made dough from your local pizzaria or the grocery store – we won’t tell. After getting the ball of dough home, let it warm to room temperature and form into baby-head sized balls. Roll out (use a rolling pin or empty wine bottle) and place directly onto the grill. After grill marks start to appear, flip with tongs and coat the cooked side with olive oil. Once grill marks appear on the new bottom side, flip it over, throw your cooked toppings on the pizza and cover until they are heated through – should be only a minute or two so as not to over-cook the crust. Try these pizza combinations:

  • Fresh mozzarella, tomato slices and basil.
  • Sauteed mixed mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, drizzle of truffle oil.
  • Tomato sauce, grilled veggies, mozzarella.
  • Torn prosciutto and mozzarella, remove from heat, add chopped tomatoes and fresh arugula.
  • A Burger From Another Mother

    Grilled stuffed burger with guacamole and bacon.

    Grilled stuffed burger with guacamole and bacon.

    Cheese burgers? Done. Turkey, veggie and lamb burgers? Also done. Not to disrespect the classic with cheese, but try these variations, why don’t ya.

  • Instead of patties, form your burgers in the shape of sausages or hotdogs, coined by a friend as The Burger Dog. There are a bunch of reasons why this has become standard in our households: you’re only buying one kind of bun now (assuming you’re also grilling sausages or hotdogs), they cook much faster than a patty, and they’re smaller so you can conceivably leave room to try the other menu items. Burger Dog. You heard it here first.
  • In another case of the shape-shifting patty, try forming your ground pork into patties. This way you can incorporate your favorite spices or melt cheese on them just as you would a burger or Burger Dog. Think of it as a suped-up, homemade sausage burger.
  • Create little pockets of surprise in your burgers and stuff them with a combination of your favorite cheese, crispy bacon bits, caramelized onions, chopped jalapenos (fresh or pickled), or guacamole.
  • Forget old standards like ketchup, mustard and American cheese, try topping your burgers with something new. Potato chips (which Bobby Flay has made famous), a smear of mushroom and truffle mousse, or pickled carrots, radish and cilantro ala the infamous Vietnamese sandwich, the Bahn Mi.
  • Whole Peppers

    Whole grilled peppers, photo from notdabblinginnormal.wordpress.com.

    Whole grilled peppers, photo from notdabblinginnormal.wordpress.com.

    Whether you go green, red, orange, or the mysterious white bell pepper, the almost spicy banana pepper, or the slightly spicier poblano pepper, you can place the pepper directly on the grill and let the outside char. Grill it on all sides and when thoroughly charred, place them in a bowl and tightly cover so they steam from their own emanating moisture. After 5 minutes, uncover and douse with olive oil and salt. Serve whole or cut in half. Add vinegar to allude to the Italian style of marinated roasted red pepper.

    Don’t Forget The Fruit

    Grilled pineapple skewers, another great way to cut this fruit to make it easy to grill. Photo from newfinmysoup.blogspot.com.

    Grilled pineapple skewers, another great way to cut this fruit to make it easy to grill. Photo from newfinmysoup.blogspot.com.

    For a slightly sweet affair and a gorgeous desert, experiment with some fruit on the grill. When choosing your fruit, go for the more firm pieces and feel free to garnish and serve with something that has a nice contrasting texture and temperature. Or, you can always let it stand on its own.

  • Peach halves are a classic. Bobby Flay (yes, he is the grill master, hence the second reference) has an amazing recipe which skewers the peaches with cinnamon sticks. Wow. Or, simply halve, brush with olive oil, grill until there are marks and serve plain, or with ice cream, whipped cream or yogurt.
  • Cut a pineapple in half or in quarters down the long way so that the core is still intact. Grill until there are marks, season with black pepper, fresh lime juice and honey.
  • Add a handful of your favorite berries and a sprinkling of sugar into a homemade foil packet and put it directly on the grill. After 5-10 minutes, depending on your grill and packet size, drizzle the smoky, gooey and hot (!) goodness over ice cream, shortbread or pound cake. Take it that extra mile with a garnish of whipped cream and chopped mint.
  • Slice open a banana length-wise but leave it in its peel. Grill with the open side down for 2 minutes. Flip over and add any of the following into it’s pocket for the remaining 5 minutes of grilling: chopped dark chocolate or Nutella, a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon, marshmallow with graham cracker and chocolate, or crumbled Nilla wafers.
  • Are You The Grill Master?

    So You Think You Can Grill. Photo from kickassbbq.com.

    So You Think You Can Grill. Photo from kickassbbq.com.

    Since there are pretty much endless varieties of foods to set on a grill, and we haven’t even touched on smoking, please tell us what makes you the master of your own grill. Any interesting favorites in your household? Anything you’ve always thought about trying but haven’t yet? Let us hear all about it.

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    • Vanessa Londono

      Like a grilled turdurken of sorts.

    • Jon Whitmore
    • Pingback: 10 Foods You Should (But Probably Don't) Grill | Care2 Healthy Living()

    • Anonymous

      Don’t forget the grilled peaches! Also, eggplant slices brushed with olive oil and topped with a dash of sage–and… the best… bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp. I’m definitely going to have to try clams and octopus though soon!

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    • Well, I counted the variations as different things. Is that cheating? :!

    • michael b

      This says 37 things to grill. I can only find 12 on the page…

    • mmm, yum! Only recently have I realized the depth and deliciousness of parsley. I think because I grew up thinking it was strictly a garnish (although always loving tabouli and never putting two and two together) that I ignored it as a *real* flavor. Now, I can’t get enough: flat leaf, curly, whatever – I want it.

      Oh, also grew up drinking carrot, parsley, apple juice in the mornings. I guess parsley loved me but I never knew I loved it.

      There is time to make up for that…

    • In my experience, having your meat freshly ground is such a beautiful departure from the norm. If you get from a butcher, it doesn’t cost extra anyway.

      Do you know when the season is to reserve a hog? (I’m not sure if you did it yourself or worked with another farmer…) Each year I say I want to do a cow or hog share and each year I miss the deadline!

    • I think the octopus is one of my faves cause it’s almost the easiest and certainly the most unusual. I like the idea of really surprising guests at a dinner party.

    • Yum! Pork burgers sound great! 

      I have a little marinade when grilling any type of pork is that I take a whole bunch of parsley and put it in a blender with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It turns into a paste and I rub it onto whatever I’m grilling. Not sure why, but it makes any pork I grill super tender and yummy … especially pork ribs!

      ps: same marinade is super with white mushrooms. Marinade them for an hour before you grill them whole and man oh man they will be the first thing to go!

    • OMG that over the top burger looks so good! We first discovered how good grilled pork burgers were when we had a hog butchered and didn’t want to turn it *all* into Italian sausage. I never thought to trick them out, though. Yum. :)

    • Van

      Grilled caprese!? That’s my summer fav, I would eat that in a heart beat. I want to try the grilled octopus, too. Great selection!

    • Do it! And take pics and post em to our Recipe Swap! http://krrb.com/posts/2349-recipe-swap-olive-oil-poached-tomatoes

    • Beth Styles

      I just saw something on Food Network about grilling romaine! I have some in my fridge right now…perhaps I shall try it tonight!