Don't stop at grilling meat. How about grilling up a bunch of veggies for a warmed chopped salad? Just rub some oil on the vegetables before grilling, remove them just before they are tender, chop them and toss with a little lemon juice, fresh herbs and salt and pepper.
You also can make great appetizers on the grill. I'm partial to the smoky flavour of this charred eggplant and garlic dip. You stick the eggplant on the grill whole and let the skin char up completely. Then you remove the skin and use the tender flesh that has been infused with the flavour of the grill.
Combine that with sweet roasted garlic (which you also do on the grill), and you have a new backyard barbecue favourite. And with eggplant being so low in calories (about 30 calories a cup), you'll want this dip in your summer repertoire regularly. Serve it with cut up veggies for an updated crudite everyone will love.
CHAR-GRILLED GARLICKY EGGPLANT DIP
Start to Finish: 45 minutes
1 head garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large eggplants (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup tahini
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Ground black pepper
Celery sticks, bell pepper strips, carrot sticks, cucumber rounds, or crackers, to serve
Heat half of the grill to medium-high and other half to low.
Set the head of garlic on its side and carefully slice off the top 1/2 inch to expose the tops of the cloves. Set the head on a sheet of foil, then drizzle it with the oil. Sprinkle generously with salt, then loosely wrap the foil around the head of garlic.
Pierce the eggplants all over with a fork, then place them on the hottest side of the grill. Place the foil-wrapped garlic on the cooler side of the grill. Cover the grill and cook the eggplant for 20 minutes, rotating every 4 to 5 minutes until all sides are completely charred. Remove the eggplant from the grill, but continue to cook the garlic until the cloves are soft, about another 15 minutes for a total of 30 to 35 minutes.
Once the eggplant has cooled enough to handle, cut each in half and scoop out the flesh. Place flesh in a colander to drain over the sink for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the garlic from the grill and, when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the softened cloves out of the skin and into a food processor. Add the drained eggplant flesh and pulse until chunky smooth. Add the tahini, lemon zest and juice, cilantro and parsley. Pulse 4 to 5 times just to mix well, then season with salt and pepper
Serve with celery sticks, bell pepper strips, carrot sticks, cucumber rounds or crackers.
Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories; 120 calories from fat (63 per cent of total calories); 13 g fat (12 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 170 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 5 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy." http://www.melissadarabian.net