For some, the smell of summer lives in freshly cut grass, salty sea air, the metallic tang of the garden hose or even the particular tomato stem fragrance of a vegetable garden. For me, those are all lovely and evocative, but for my nose summer has only set in once it senses the aromatic sting of grill smoke. Summer time means grilling time; full stop.
Gas grills revolutionized summer grilling, making it easier and more and convenient, but “firing up the grill” isn’t exactly a casual process for those working with charcoal. All the more reason to let your grill do more than just an evening’s work for you. If you spent the time getting your briquettes to that ambient ash state, why only use them for a handful of minutes for your hot dogs, burgers or steaks? Even if you are, as they say, cooking with gas (on the grill), why not employ the same food prep mentality as you would in your indoor kitchen?
Once the grill is fired up, it’s ready to work for you. If you’ve got a little extra space, or even just a little extra time, using proteins and vegetables alike, there are plenty of approaches and recipes to let your weekend grilling session provide you with weeklong grill flavor.
Use large cuts
Reheated, grilled burgers and dogs can never compete with their fresh-off-the-grill counterparts. But that’s not necessarily true for large cuts of meat. A whole pork tenderloin or skirt steak may be more than you need for today’s meal, but they can easily become tomorrow’s porchetta sandwiches or steak fajitas. Or all the more reason to double up on these economical cuts for cooking now and repurposing later on. Get CNET sister site Chowhound’s grilled pork tenderloin recipe.
Skewer some shrimp
There’s doubtlessly enough real estate, no matter what you’re grilling, for a few skewers on the side. Think surf and turf, but hold the surf for later in the week. Shrimp, especially, cook lightning fast on the grill, and you can keep them in the fridge for a quick protein boost to salads, a healthy snack, or something with a delicious char to fold into a quesadilla. Check out Chowhound’s grilled shrimp recipes for marinade ideas.
Add another chicken breast (or two)
The grilling treatment is the highest expression chicken breasts can hope for. While they may or may not be your centerpiece for outdoor dining, a grilled chicken breast with a zingy marinade can make for a knockout Caesar salad or a healthy alternative to chicken parm later in the week. See some marinated grilled chicken recipes to inspire you.
Dish up dough
If you’re already hip to grilled pizza, then you know how surprisingly well pizza dough comes together on a grill. This is the closest we mortals without pizza ovens can come to a blistery, Neapolitan crust. But even if pizza isn’t on the menu this evening, you can still seize the opportunity to grill up some rounds of dough for myriad uses later on: quick toaster oven pizzas, bruschetta or even croutons. Get Chowhound’s grilled pizza dough recipe but portion into smaller rounds if you like.
Roast red peppers
The grill is hot, so what else can you put on there while it’s fired up? Getting a nice blister going on a few red peppers can provide returns that go well beyond just the coming week. Once the skins are peeled and the peppers are marinated, you’ve got little bursts of smoky flavor to add to dips, sauces, sandwiches, pastas, salads, pizzas… basically everything.
Transform eggplant into a silky snack
Detractors of eggplant will often claim texture as the reason they’re not into it. But when it becomes a smoky, grilled eggplant dip or spread, who can argue that the texture isn’t precisely what it’s supposed to be? Here, whole eggplants go directly on the grill for a case of minimum effort, maximum reward. (Grill some pita for dipping triangles while you’re at it.) Get the grilled eggplant baba ganoush recipe and snack for days.
Invest in extra ears of corn
Since you’re already shucking ears for grilled corn, why not go ahead and plan for twice the bounty? Tonight’s elote can transform tomorrow’s salads, with lettuce, pasta, potato, beans or even the corn itself as the base. Or add the grilled kernels to everything from quesadillas to quiche .