Grilling Outside the Box

By Laura Schmidt, RD, LD

When it comes to the outdoor grill, think outside of the box! The grill imparts incredibly complex flavor into foods. Whether you are grilling turkey, pizza, vegetables, or fruits, anything goes, and the result is often a sweeter, more flavorful dish. Grilling food intensifies flavors and gives a juicy, smoky, delicious result.

Consider cooking a whole chicken or turkey on the grill. Simply brush the bird with oil or melted butter, rub in sea salt or other seasonings and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to grill, place it in a roasting pan with an inch or two of broth or water and place the pan on the grill. Cover the legs with foil to prevent overbrowning. If desired, add cut lemons and/or oranges to the cavity. Then cover and let cook until a thermometer reaches 165 degrees. A 12-pound turkey takes 2 to 3 hours of grill time. It’s that easy!

When grilling pizza, there are essentially two easy ways to cook it either on a baking stone or directly on the grate. If you’re using a baking stone, simply preheat the grill with the stone directly on the grate, then carefully lay your crust onto the stone. To grill the crust directly on the grate, start with all your ingredients (sauce and pre-cooked toppings) nearby. Brush one side of the crust with olive oil and lay gently on the grill. Brush the other side of the crust with olive oil, close the lid and let the crust cook for a couple of minutes. Open the lid, flip the crust, add your toppings, then close the lid and let the pizza finish cooking. It’s important any meat such as raw sausage is cooked before adding to the pizza. Even raw onions and raw green peppers turn out better if they’ve been sauted in advance.

Of course not all your toppings have to go on the pizza though! Use grilled pizza dough as a flatbread under a summer salad or serve it alongside dips like hummus or tzatziki.

Here are a few more tips for making pizza on the grill:

Make sure your grill is hot and clean. This goes for grilling anything, but especially pizza. You’ll want it on medium heat, which is hot enough that the dough starts cooking immediately on contact, but not so hot that it burns on the outside before cooking on the inside. To test the heat of your grill, hold your palm about 4 inches above the grill grate and count how many times you can say “Mississippi” before you need to pull your hand away. If you can count five “Mississippis,” you’re good to go.

Work with smaller rounds of dough instead of one giant pizza. They’re not only easier to stretch out, but are also easier to transfer and flip. Plus, you can serve a bigger variety of topping combinations that way.

When stretching out dough, make sure you get it as even as possible to avoid burning some spots while others remain uncooked. Sometimes using a rolling pin is really the best way to ensure an even thickness.

Prepare all your ingredients ahead of time and have them by your side at the grill. Once that dough hits the grill, you won’t have time to run back to the kitchen.

When choosing toppings, remember that they’ll be on the grill for only 2 to 3 minutes with most of the heat coming directly from below, so it’s best if your toppings are pre-cooked or not need to be cooked at all.

For toppings, consider cheeses like mozzarella, Cheddar, or Monterey Jack as well as chicken, bacon, artichokes, roasted red peppers, thin slices of pepperoni, prosciutto, any grilled veggies, and chopped tomatoes.

Try a breakfast pizza on the grill with a Hollandaise sauce as the base with sausage, scrambled eggs, onions, green peppers, and sharp Cheddar cheese. If you’re more in the mood for brunch, add roasted asparagus, shredded chicken, skin-on fingerling potatoes and fresh chevre. For a barbecue pizza, combine barbecued boneless skinless chicken thigh meat with gruyere, thinly sliced peppers, and fresh cilantro.

Here is a new recipe to try on your grill:

Smoky Corn and Black Bean Pizza

Serves 6

All you need:

1 plum tomato, diced

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed

1 cup fresh corn kernels, (about 2 ears)

2 tbsp cornmeal

1 pound prepared whole-wheat pizza dough

1/3 cup barbecue sauce

1 cup Hy-Vee shredded mozzarella, preferably smoked mozzarella

All you do:

1. Preheat grill to medium.

2. Combine tomato, beans, and corn in a medium bowl. Sprinkle cornmeal onto a large baking sheet. Stretch the dough into about a 12-inch circle and lay it on top of the cornmeal, coating the entire underside of the dough.

3. Transfer the crust from the baking sheet to the grill. Close the lid and cook until the crust is puffed and lightly browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Using a large spatula, flip the crust. Spread barbecue sauce on it and quickly sprinkle with the tomato mixture and cheese. Close the lid; grill until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the crust is browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 316 calories, 6g fat, 3g saturated fat, 13mg cholesterol, 530mg sodium, 48g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 14g protein.

Daily values: 15% calcium.

Source: adapted from EatingWell, Inc.

The information is not intended as medical advice.

Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Laura Schmidt is a registered dietitian representing Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.

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