How to Be a Master Grill Sergeant This Summer

Grilled food is decidedly more delicious than almost anything else. Each summer I challenge myself to stretch my grilling repertoire. The results range from “amazing” to “the deck is on fire,” but I keep on cookin,’ and I've stumbled onto some sensational recipes along the way.

You don’t have to click very far to find hundreds of chefs proclaiming they know the best way to cook various meats or kabobs. Meat, however, is child’s play. The true grill aficionado knows how to make veggies sing and fruit soar when grilling season arrives. Added bonus: They make for easy and healthy summer snacks, too.

This summer, you can be the ultimate grill sergeant if you master these tantalizing feats:

Grilled Artichokes

Artichokes very well may be the veggie of the gods, or at least close to it. It’s difficult enough to boil or bake an artichoke without ruining it, but the grill is a whole different ball game. Artichokes like wet heat, so it’s best to start out steaming them, but the rest is easy. All you need is:
  • 2 to 4 large artichokes
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme to taste
  • A sprinkle of salt

First, slice the artichokes in half and steam them for 20 minutes, or until you can easily pull the leaves out of the stem. Next, squeeze the lemon and herbs generously over the outside and inside of the halves. Brush the artichokes with the oil and prep it for direct-rack heating. Place the artichokes face down on the bottom rack and grill on low for 5-10 minutes. Voilà—your artichokes are ready to go.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Grilled Fruit With Ginger Whipped Cream

Nothing tops off the perfect summer fête like a sweet, tart, refreshing fruit dessert with a dazzle of homemade whipped cream. Forget the high-fat, processed junk this summer and make your own restaurant-worthy dessert in less than 15 minutes. What you will need:
  • 6 peaches
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsps honey
  • Some fresh ginger 

To prepare these tasty morsels, simply slice the peaches in half and grill them, face down on the second rack for 2-3 minutes, then flip and do the same on the other side. For the whipped cream, combine the heavy cream, vanilla and honey into a bowl. Then, use a clean cheese grater to grate a few ounces of ginger into the bowl, to taste. Mix it with a hand mixer for 8-10 minutes, or until the concoction reaches the desired consistency. Pile a dab of your delicious whipped cream atop the peaches and you have a perfect summer treat.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Grilled Brown Sugar Bananas

Anyone would go bananas for this delicious summer treat. If you haven’t tried a grilled banana yet, it’s time. All you need is:
  • 6 bananas
  • 1 ¼ cups of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 2 tbsps cinnamon

To prepare, simply preheat your grill on medium heat and cut each banana in half, lengthwise, with the peel still intact. Sprinkle the banana halves with the lemon juice, then mix the cinnamon and brown sugar separately and coat the exposed portion of the banana with the mixture. After two or three minutes, remove the peels from the other side and coat with the sugar mixture. Each side should only take three minutes to complete, and your banana dish is ready in no time. 

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

If you’re new to the grilling game, and you’d like to learn more, there are plenty of good sites for funny vids and how-tos you can look into. Or, for a more traditional look at the art of grilling, Simply Recipes or features easy tips and tutorials.