Perhaps you can tell, but we’ve been looking forward to summer since, well, the beginning of March. To increase our patience, we’ve taken to incorporating sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs, and frozen corn at every chance we get.
Whipping out the grill is another tried and true way to make summer come early. As any devotee of tailgating will tell you, you can stand around a grill long before (or after) the weather is warm. If you’re in the city, find a friend with roof access and a Weber, or get up early and grab a grill and a bench at the park. At the very least, use your grill pan. Here’s what to make.
1. Meat. Guinness-Marinated Flank Steak is such an easy main course. You marinate the steak for a couple of hours, then simply throw it on the grill. It’s a good way to get back in the grilling groove after a long winter of braising and such. Never underestimate a mixed sausage grill either–buy good sausage and even some hot dogs, then load them on. Don’t forget the buns!
2. More Meat. Mexican favorite, make-your-own tacos adapts beautifully to the grill. Make the meat in these Chicken-Ancho Tacos on the grill, then arrange a big buffet of condiments and let guests go at it.
3. OK, even more meat. For burgers that surpass the classic, get these Pork Burgers going on the grill.
4. Vegetables love the grill. To barbecue zucchini (pictured above), simply cut planks and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill over medium-hot flame until the zucchini is cooked. Let it rest a few minutes before eating.
5. Eggplant. You can grill eggplant just like zucchini (salt it in a colander first, and let it sit for 1 hour before rinsing, drying, and tossing with olive oil), but you can also step it up and make this fantastic Grilled Eggplant Salad.
6. Add a first course. Makes a barbecue feel more like a party. This Creamy Gazpacho is simple and winning; if you’re leaving home, pack it in a thermos and pour into plastic cups.
7. Sides! Cool salads and make-ahead veggie dishes go well with anything you can throw on the grill. Fennel-Cabbage Slaw is a must make, and an unusual pasta salad like this Soba Noodle Salad is welcome too.
8. To drink, Spiked Lemonade. If it’s a big party, make sure friends bring lots of beer.
9. Have dessert ready. Making it ahead of time means you can enjoy the party. This Blueberry Crisp Tart tastes delicious and is no problem to make.
10. Ice cream. If you’re really aching for summer, there’s no way to go but ice cream. Skip the tart, make some hot fudge, and let friends scoop their way to sundae glory.