Last Updated on June 19, 2020
Grilling brings out new flavors from some of your favorite pantry staples.
Grilling transforms food in a way no other cooking technique does quite so well. The smoke and flame create a deep browning that brings new flavors to the plate.
We know how this is done in meat and fish and most vegetables and fruits, but there are some other ingredients you may not have thought about that sizzle to perfection over the coals.
If you’ve got any leftover cooked pasta in the fridge…grill it!
All you need is a grill pan with small holes (preferably nonstick) that you can place on top of the grates. While you can use freshly cooked pasta, the key is for the pasta to dry out a bit—hence why leftover pasta is best. Choose pasta shapes that have ample crevices to catch the flame, like fusilli, gemelli, and farfalle.
Spaghetti and smaller pasta shapes will inevitably break apart and/or fall through the holes.
How to Grill Pasta
Oil the grill pan and set on the grates over the flame to heat. Once hot, place pasta in the pan (you should hear it sizzle). Toss for 30 seconds with your grill spatula, then drizzle a little vinaigrette of your choice over the pasta and continue to shuffle the pasta around in the pan.
When the vinaigrette hits the coals, smoke and flame will erupt—that’s a wonderful thing! This reaction is the catalyst for flavoring the pasta. Keep cooking the pasta until it begins to brown and char slightly. Then, you’re done!
How to Serve Grilled Pasta
Mix the grilled pasta with any vegetables you’ve grilled, drizzle a little more vinaigrette on top, and serve. You can also cook vegetables along with the pasta in the grill pan.
No, I’m not talking about grilled cheese sandwiches on the grill (which, yes, you should try that too), but there are cheeses out there that can hold their own over the coals. Halloumi, juustoleipä (Scandinavian “bread cheese”), queso panela, kasseri, or simply “grilling cheese” are cheeses with a rigid protein structure that can withstand high heat.
How to Grill Cheese
Set up your grill to a medium-high heat. Cut cheese ¼-½ inch thick, and place slices directly onto the grill. Watch the cheese—less than a minute per side is all it really needs to achieve substantial grill marks.
How to Serve Grilled Cheese
You can eat these grilled cheese slices on their own for a tasty snack, serve alongside grilled vegetables, or place in a salad.
Grilling lemons, limes, and oranges caramelizes their sugars and provides a welcome contrast to their acidity.
How to Grill Fruits
Cut citrus into slices or wedges and place flesh side down on a hot grill until the citrus browns and forms some grill marks. If you want to place the citrus slices or wedges in a cocktail, you can grill them with a little sugar for extra caramelization and sweetness.
How to Serve Grilled Citrus
Spritz the grilled citrus over grilled meat and fish in place of added salt (trust me!), juice and/or place grilled citrus wedges into cocktails, or juice the wedges to use in a vinaigrette.
Avocados are incredibly simple to grill. The idea here is that grilling softens the avocado flesh so it’s extra creamy.
How to Grill Avocados
Heat your grill to 350°F, halve and pit the avocados, drizzle olive oil over each unpeeled half, sprinkle salt and pepper and any additional spices, and place flesh side down on the grate. Cook for 2-3 minutes until grill marks form. That’s it.
How to Serve Grilled Avocado
You can make guacamole from these avocados, or serve each half as is with fresh salsa and crema. Also, you can replace meat in your favorite taco recipes with grilled avocado for a different take on “Taco Tuesday.”
Yes, you read that right—you can put a whole egg in its shell on the grill. Bon Appetit introduced me to the concept, and it’s both easy and genius. The resulting egg will show a little color on the whites and exhibit a mild yet noticeable grilled flavor.
How to Grill Eggs
Place eggs directly onto the grates, cover, and let them cook to your desired doneness: 6 minutes for an oozy egg, 10 minutes for a jammy egg, and about 14 minutes for a hard-cooked egg. Place eggs in an ice bath, then peel.
There will inevitably be trial and error with this process. If the eggshell gets too hot, it will crack, and some egg white may ooze out.
How to Serve Grilled Eggs
For a take on salade lyonnaise, serve egg in a salad with bitter greens, bacon, and a bright vinaigrette. Cut into the jammy egg with a fork and let the richness meld in with the salad. You can also place sliced grilled eggs on toast either plain or with (grilled!) avocado.
Kristina DeMichele is the Digital Content Strategist at Harvard Magazine. She is also a freelance copyeditor who has worked for America's Test Kitchen as the Senior Content Editor of Cook's Illustrated Magazine.