Ribs, burgers, and other main dishes aren't all a grill is good for—we love throwing vegetables, marinated shrimp, and breads over the fire, too, for side dishes and snacks with a smoky char. These grilled appetizers and sides make great additions to any cookout or barbecue.
Salads might be most closely associated with raw vegetables, but grilled ingredients can add delicious flavors to the party. Romaine lettuce is much more interesting with a smoky char, especially when topped with blue cheese and bacon. Grilling endives with honey softens their bitter edge. In our Swedish grilled shallot salad, cooking the alliums with olive oil and butter lets them soften and caramelize, which gives them a deep, sweet flavor.
Other vegetables are at home on the grill, too. Marinating ripe summer tomatoes in soy sauce gives them an umami-rich flavor. Corn becomes sweet and smoky when grilled—serve it on the cob with a goat cheese compound butter or pesto, or make it into a succotash with tomatoes and edamame.
Toasting bread is boring—grilling it gives it a more flavorful char. We love grilling up homemade flatbread and topping it with pickled peaches and plums, as well as burrata and arugula. Storebought bread can be given new life on the grill and topped with briny crab, a refreshing parsley and onion salad, or hearty kale and salty prosciutto.
Next time you have a cookout, grill more than the mains with these grilled appetizer and side recipes.
“You can grill any oyster you’d eat raw,” says John Finger of California’s Hog Island Oyster Co., “but bigger is better, since the longer they cook, the more they shrink.” Rules of thumb: Opt for Pacific over Eastern, and look for 4–5-inch shell size. Have your fishmonger shuck one before you buy; the meat should almost fill the shell.
Akin to Puerto Rican escabeche, roasted, tender vegetables are marinated in a simple sherry vinegar dressing for an easy side dish to grilled fish, roast pork, or tender rib eye steak. Get the recipe for Escalivada Catalana »
Fresh red onions add cool spice to this simple parsley salad from Jeremiah Cooks (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2002), by Jeremiah Tower. Served on grilled bread with a touch of mint and a sprinkle of capers, the salad looks as appealing as it tastes. Get the recipe for Parsley and Onion Salad »
These shrimp are cooked in a hot cast iron pan with tons of garlic and red Thai chiles.
Milder than their cousin the onion, shallots are ideal for grilling. For a midsummer cookout in Sweden, home cook Asa Johanson tosses shallots in butter and olive oil, wraps them in foil with dill, and cooks the package slowly on the grill until the shallots soften and caramelize, taking on a deep, sweet flavor.
Stuffing sardines with fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon before grilling suffuses them with zesty flavor.
Double-skewering scallions ensures they don’t fall through grill grates and allows for easier basting and flipping.