The scent of charcoal burning immediately conjures thoughts of summer: bare feet in grass, fireflies buzzing in the backyard, and Dad flipping burgers on the grill. Now that the season is here, it’s your time to make the most of sweet, sultry summer and do your dining al fresco. Grab your household, linger outside around the ‘cue, and allow the relaxing nature of grilling to take over because backyard grilling with housemates is the best part of a socially-distant summer.

Go, Go Gadget!
There are three major gizmos that will make your grilling easier and breezier. First off, look into getting a stainless-steel grill topper. We often face the challenge of sharing a grill with meat eaters. Wrapping vegetables in aluminum foil protects them from meat splatter but also separates the veggies from the major flavor player, the flame. A stainless-steel grill topper can save you from these woes, as it sits on top of the grill, helps to retain the charred flavor, prevents smaller vegetables from falling into the fire, and simplifies cleaning.

Everyone loves a good veggie-and-‘fu kabob, and bamboo skewers are the only way to go. A renewable resource, bamboo skewers have a surface texture that naturally grips foods. Because the wood doesn’t retain heat, you can serve immediately. Be sure to soak skewers for 30 minutes in water before grilling to avoid unexpected fires.

The last gadget that comes in handy is a silicone basting brush. Silicone holds up against the grill’s high heat, and the bristles won’t shed and will make for easy washing. Stick with silicone and leave the bristles on the boars!

Grillin’ Grub
You could put just about any food on top of the grill and come up with a divine, smoky flavor, but we have a few favorites.

Alongside the standard veggie burgers and dogs, grill corn in-husk for a succulent sweetness, then sprinkle with cayenne for a taste-bud twist. Other veggies that go over like gangbusters once grilled are asparagus, red bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini. Try wrapping a veg-and-polenta mixture in a banana leaf for a one-dish grill wonder. Before grilling any veggies, chill them in ice water to crisp ’em up.

Of course, you’ll want to go nuts with side dishes like potato and macaroni salads, all the fresh, seasonal fruit you can handle, and plates of pie as far as the eye can see. VN’s Spicy Peanut Skewers blend the best of sweet and savory with nectarines, tempeh, and onions, all slathered in a slightly spicy peanut sauce.

The grill-fest doesn’t have to end with the dinner course. Dessert is exquisite when made grill-top! Skewer peaches, pineapple, and plums to caramelize, then serve with grilled pound cake. Go crazy and top with some soy whipped cream. Maybe a drizzle of chocolate sauce couldn’t hurt—just remember: take your sweets off the fire before saucing them up.

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