Fourth of July is right around the corner, which means getting your friends together in your backyard for a little bit of grillin' and chillin'. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and barbecued pork are all the norm for this meatcentric holiday. And that stuff is all fine and good -- everyone loves hot dogs and hamburgers, and they're easy to make. But what about the sides? Everyone wants simplicity there too. Well, before resorting to prepackaged coleslaw and a can of baked beans, Charlie recommends you supplement your all-American cookout with these easy grilled side dishes:
10. Zucchini - Grilled zucchini has the most amazing meaty flavor once it comes off the grill. The flesh loses its starchy, squash-like taste and grows sweet. Making it is easy: Slice zucchini the long way and rub with olive oil. Then sprinkle with chili powder, salt, and pepper and grill until you have nice grill marks on each side.
9. Potato wedges - Grilled potato wedges are a burger's best friend. They're also a low-fat alternative to French fries. For best results, par-cook potatoes first in a pot of boiling water, but don't go until they're fork tender. Brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill on both sides until crisp and charred. Serve with my favorite dip: Sriracha ketchup.
8. Flatbreads - Mini pizzas are easy and fun to grill. Simply grab some prepackaged flatbreads, or if you're making dough from scratch, par-cook on one side. Then top with whatever you want: figs and Gorgonzola cheese, tomato-basil and mozzarella, or even some of that pulled pork and barbecue sauce you were making anyway. Grill over low heat with the top closed and you'll get a crisp, melty mini-pie that you can slice and share.
7. Honey-mustard-glazed kielbasa - Try this with kielbasa sausage: Slice down the middle to make the sausage into two halves. Then grill on each side. As you turn them over, baste in a sauce made with honey, whole-grain mustard, olive oil, and garlic. As the sauce caramelizes on the grill, it turns sweet and the garlic cooks in. To serve, slice each half into small bite-sized pieces and let your guests go to town.
6. Pineapple and watermelon - For dessert, these fruits hold up
great on the grill. For the pineapple, you can grill it whole or slice
and grill individually. If you grill it whole, use low heat and cook
for 30 minutes or more. The inside will practically melt apart -- even the tough core. The
watermelon works best in inch-thick slices, cooked quickly over high heat. Both gain a smoky,
grilled flavor that really impresses. For bonus points, sprinkle your
pineapple with cinnamon, and salt your watermelon. Your guests will love
you for it.