Fire up the grill, everyone, because summer is upon us!
With the Fourth of July under a week away, we’re busy finalizing our red, white and blue outfits, holiday decor and, of course, our holiday menu.
But, there’s something much more stressful about outdoor cookouts. Maybe it’s the mosquitos, maybe it’s the humidity, or maybe it’s just our anxiety about the number of people showing up on our deck — but it doesn’t have to be that way.
In preparation for the summer holiday, and the weeks of outdoor barbecues to come after, we caught up with Anthony Carrino, star of HGTV’s show “Kitchen Cousins,” to talk about his top tips for throwing a seamless cookout:
1. Start with the heart of the party: the grill. Once you have the right equipment, everything else can fall into place. Luckily, Lowe’s is offering 30 percent off select grills from June 27 until July 10, so you can score the centerpiece of your cookout at a reasonable price.
2. Have the necessary tools to get the job done. I love this Weber Stainless Steel Tool Set, which comes with the main tools every griller needs: a spatula, tongs and fork.
If you want to try grilling something other than a burger or a steak, read on to discover 20 fun and unusual foods that are great grilled.
Amp up the flavor and texture of your meatballs by tossing them on the grill. This recipe works great for meatball subs or spaghetti.
Get the recipe: Grilled Meatballs
Grilling green beans gives them a delicious char that’s superb with the lentils, pancetta and baked tomatoes in this salad.
Get the recipe: Grilled Green Bean Salad with Lentil Vinaigrette
Grill super-moist pound cake until it is crisp and toasty, and then top it with warm, tender grilled peaches and whipped cream for a delicious summer treat. Experiment with other sweets like donuts.
Get the recipe: Grilled Lemon Pound Cake with Peaches and Cream
Skip the mushy stuff and serve your cornmeal crisp. Try grilled polenta slices on top of sweet shrimp tossed with a spicy tomato and escarole sauce for a supper with panache.
Get the recipe: Grilled Polenta with Shrimp Escarole
Grilling watermelon gives it a unique flavor that some say tastes savory. Try it with homemade Greek yogurt for a refreshing summer treat.
Get the recipe: Grilled Watermelon with Yogurt
For a chewy, slightly charred crust, try grilling your pizza. Slathered with pesto and sprinkled with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, this grilled pizza will have you singing its praises.
Get the recipe: Pesto and Tomato Grilled Pizza
Succulent grilled lobster tastes divine when prepared with spiced mayonnaise and served in a grilled split bun.
Get the recipe: Grilled Lobster Rolls
Grilling fruits can bring out caramelization and intense flavors. Serve these grilled nectarines with lightly sweetened mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) as a first course or a sophisticated dessert.
Get the recipe: Grilled Nectarines with Mascarpone Cream
If you haven’t tried grilling fruit before, apples are a great place to start. Pair grilled apples with flavorful cheese and drizzle with honey and toasted pecans for a quick and healthy dessert.
Get the recipe: Grilled Apples with Cheese Honey
Reinvent the grilled cheese sandwich with unconventional fillings like this recipe that uses dark chocolate. More decadent than a chocolate croissant, this sandwich is beautiful marriage of bread and chocolate.
Get the recipe: Grilled Dark Chocolate Sandwich
Grilling peaches bring out their sweet and smoky flavors. You can use them to make tangy salsa perfect for a summer fiesta.
Get the recipe: Grilled Peach Salsa
Brown your pineapples to bring out delicious, caramelized flavor. This recipe transforms them into a sweet and slightly spicy salsa that tastes great with jerk chicken.
Get the recipe: Jerk Chicken with Fried Rice and Grilled Pineapple Salsa
Potatoes are easy to cook on the grill. This recipe wraps them in foil packets and tosses them on the grill for an easy, no-mess eat.
Get the recipe: Grilled Potato Packets
Artichokes are most often served steamed, but grilling them adds a smoky dimension to their flavor. If you can get them, first-of-the-season baby artichokes will yield extra-tender results—double the number of artichokes and reduce the cooking time as needed.
Get the recipe: Grilled Artichokes
Firm tofu is well suited for the grill because it does not fall apart. Seasoned with curry powder, the grilled tofu is not only filling, but also refreshing with its complementary sweet, spicy and tangy tamarind chutney served on the side for dipping.
Get the recipe: Grilled Curried Tofu with Sweet Spicy Tamarind Chutney
Grill apricots to give them an alluring smokiness, and then serve them with goat cheese, arugula and a toasted pine nut dressing for a fun cross between a salad and a cheese course.
Get the recipe: Grilled Apricot, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad
Grilling can bring out the rich flavors of your asparagus. Char stalks on the grill, and then serve them with a super rich zabaglione sauce spiked with black pepper like this recipe from chef Mario Batali.
Get the recipe: Grilled Asparagus with Pepper Zabaglione
However you choose to grill your eggplants, you’ll get amazing results that go well in vegetable sandwiches or baba ghanouj. Try this grilled-vegetable version of eggplant Parmesan, which is much lighter than the fried kind.
Get the recipe: Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
We always look forward to grilled corn on cob during the summer, but we’d never think to transform those grilled corn kernels into this recipe for indulgent grilled cream corn with spinach and parmesan.
Get the recipe: Grilled Creamed Corn with Spinach and Parmesan
Dark Leafy Greens like Broccoli Rabe
Although somewhat unconventional, grilling dark leafy greens like broccoli rabe is a fun way to add subtle smokiness. This recipe bumps up the flavor by tossing it with a garlic-rosemary vinaigrette.
Get the recipe: Grilled Broccoli Rabe
3. Something few people tend to remember when hosting: make your entertaining space just that – a place to enjoy the full experience of a cookout! After you’ve crossed off your basics, have some fun with it by adding things like outdoor furniture, warming drawers, and even wine storage (so you won’t have to go back inside unless you forget the corkscrew).
4. Prep early. Get all your burger patties made and get all your chopping done, so you can just focus on your guests and the grill.
5. Make sure the beer is cold…ice cold.
Related: Check out these yummy summer recipes
Oven Baked Barbecue Brisket
Beer and Ranch Chicken and Potato Kebabs
Reese’s Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
Chili Cheese Dogs with Sweet Potato Fries
The Ultimate Shrimp ‘Boil’
Baked Parmesan Zucchini
3 Twists on Caffeinated Popsicles
Cheesy Crab Dip
Star Spangled Blueberry Mojito
4 Ways to Make Guacamole
Pull-apart emoji cake
Roasted Potato Salad with French Lentils and Veggies
Strawberry Chamomile Paloma
Heirloom Tomato and Beet Salad
Golden Peach Slushy
Jalapeño Popper Pigs in a Blanket
Berry Pizza with Whipped Ricotta
Sun-Dried Tomato and Lentil Salad
Sweet Sour Cocktail