Cooking Ahead

Whether your grill is an instant-on gas type or a pile the briquettes, light and wait variety, you can cook ahead for tasty and fast foods this summer.

Kurt started his "grilling' ahead as a college student subsisting on a diet of hot dogs and other nutritious tidbits. He and his roommate, Lyndal, would throw a package of cheap hot dogs onto the grill after making the main course for the night.

When the dogs were done, they would freeze the grilled dogs for later use in the microwave. These "grave" dogs (a combination of grill and microwave) were much tastier than the out-of-the package, popped in the microwave variety.

From "grave" dogs to pesto grilled chicken, our tastes have grown and our grilling options more varied.

One of our favorite grill ahead features is a variety of vegetables. We head to the farmer's market and pick out the best looking yellow squash, eggplant, zucchini, onions, and whatever else looks good and fresh.

We take them home for a good scrubbing and then thinly slice them using our vegetable peeler. The thin slices cook up quick on the grill.

To cook, we brush a bit of olive oil on each side of the vegetables and grill over medium-high heat until just tender. If you want a more caramelized flavor, leave the vegetables on the grill a bit longer. This works especially well for onions and garlic.

We then place the vegetables in plastic freezer bags and freeze them for later use. This brings a bit of the summer to the cold winter months. When we reheat the vegetables, we like to sprinkle a little kosher salt or some chopped herbs on top.

Also, in keeping with Kurt's history, we frequently cook extra meat while grilling. Grilled chicken adds an extra dimension to recipes calling for cooked chicken, especially in salads. A grilled steak in the freezer can be thawed, thinly sliced and placed inside a tortilla along with some beans, grilled veggies and cheese for a quick steak burrito. (This makes a great lunch!)

Almost whatever you like hot off the grill can become an easy cook ahead item. Experiment and have fun.