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Out-of-the-box grilling ideas

By Stacey Stein

By the time the Victoria Day long weekend rolls around, summer is in the air – the days are longer, kids are outside riding their bikes, and patios are filled with people enjoying their meals al fresco.

The warmer weather also makes this a popular time to host an outdoor barbecue, another favourite summer pastime. Burgers and dogs may be the obvious go-to, but this long weekend, why not wow your guests with unexpected dishes that stray from standard barbecue fare?

Read on for ideas to help you plan a unique long weekend barbecue that guests will be raving about all summer.

Awesome apps

The possibilities for interesting apps that incorporate grilled veggies are endless. Here are a few options that are sure to be a hit:

  • Potato salad gets a makeover in this version that uses grilled mini potatoes and has a light, herby flavour. Before grilling the potatoes, boil them first, run under cold water, and then toss with some melted Gay Lea Spreadables butter.
  • Add a DIY element to your barbecue by including a crostini bar. Registered dietitian Shannon Crocker recommends using this grilled crostini recipe and mixing things up by putting out different toppings – try grilled veggies, sautéed mushrooms and avocado slices. Guests will have fun assembling their own creations. Tip: grill the crostini ahead of time and then warm it on the grill once your guests arrive.
  • Create a grilled veggie platter filled with in-season spring fare like asparagus, zucchini, peppers and radishes. Try serving the grilled veggies with a crowd-pleasing dip, like Nordica Smooth roasted red pepper.

Mouth-watering mains

Replace chunks of meat with chunks of cheese to create healthful, innovative barbecued dishes. Halloumi works well on the grill (be sure to cut it about ½ inch thick) – it’s the star ingredient in these dishes:

  • This fattoush salad pairs grilled halloumi with a variety of crunchy vegetables. A lemony dressing ties it all together.
  • This nutrient-rich grilled veggie salad is loaded with a variety of grilled vegetables along with the grilled halloumi. Quinoa adds a kick of protein.
  • Who needs beef sliders? These grilled halloumi sliders are a great meat alternative, and the herbs and tzatziki lend some Mediterranean flair.

You can skip the meat in these other veggie-heavy mains:

  • For this roasted red pepper flatbread recipe, grill the naan bread (rather than baking it in the oven). Feel free to mix up the veggie toppings.
  • Lightly grill the zucchini on the barbecue in this mushroom-stuffed zucchini recipe. Toss some chickpeas or black beans into the stuffing mixture for a protein boost.

For meat lovers, you can try a twist on the conventional Caesar salad. Brush some Romaine lettuce with canola oil and grill on a lower heat (be sure to keep the core so the lettuce holds together on the barbecue). Serve with Caesar dressing, grated parmesan and croutons, then top it off with a grilled beef or chicken kabob.

Divine desserts

Desserts and grilling might not seem like a natural combination, but you can make some truly inventive – and delicious – desserts on the barbecue while impressing guests with your ingenuity. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep things simple and healthy with grilled fruit kabobs, paired with a sweet sour cream honey dip. Pear, apple and pineapple work well – so do peaches, plums and nectarines, which will soon be in season.
  • Replace the peaches with in-season pears in this recipe, which marries grilled fruit with pan-seared halloumi cheese. Top it all off with a champagne syrup for a dessert that’s sure to impress (feel free to skip the arugula).
  • Cake on the grill? Why not? A dense pound cake works perfectly (buy or make your own) – place thick slices on the barbecue, flip them over until you see grill marks, then top it off with some Nordica Smooth Blueberry Acai and berries (either fresh or frozen – both work well).

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