Glance around a typical backyard barbecue, and you’ll see a few sad side salads playing second fiddle to the burgers. But if you grill your salads, they can become the stars. When you expand your grilling repertoire this way, you can count on barbecue season to be a health-boosting one (goodbye, red meat overload; hello, bounty of veggies).
Push boundaries with grilled watermelon headlining on a bed of greens. Make your potato salad anything but basic by tossing your spuds on the barbecue first. Create a smoky-tasting green salad by grilling kale and a host of other vegetables.
Bottom line: you’ll never look at your barbecue the same … and you’ll never hear the sound of sizzling without dreaming of a salad lashed with gorgeous grill marks.
Grilled Watermelon Salad
Watermelon is one of summer’s quintessential fruits. So when grilling season is in full swing, be sure to grill it. Grilling gives watermelon an almost meaty texture that makes this ruby fruit a standout addition to a salad.
You want to grill watermelon—and all fruits and veggies—to the point of tenderness with some darkened areas, but not to the point of being mushy or completely charred.
1/2 seedless watermelon (about 5 lbs/2.25 kg)
2 tsp (10 mL) grapeseed oil, divided
1/4 tsp (1 mL) chili powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1 red onion, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2 in (1.25 cm) thick circles
4 cups (1 L) arugula or other tender greens
2 oz (57 g) feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup (60 mL) roughly chopped unsalted raw pistachios or other nut of choice
1/3 cup (80 mL) sliced fresh mint leaves
Soak a few wooden toothpicks for half an hour.
Slice about 1/2 in (1.25 cm) off bottom of watermelon half so it sits flat. Slice away rind. Turn melon block on its side, cut it into 4 slabs, and then slice each piece in half so you have a total of 8 watermelon half-moons.
Preheat grill to medium. Lightly coat watermelon slices with 1 tsp (5 mL) oil and season with chili powder and salt. Brush remaining oil on onion rounds and insert soaked toothpicks through rings to hold them together.
Grill each side of watermelon for about 2 minutes, or until grill marks appear. Grill onions until tender and beginning to caramelize, about 3 minutes per side. Separate grilled onion into individual rings and slice watermelon half-moons in half.
Use vegetable peeler or mandoline to slice cucumber into long, thin strips.
To assemble salad, place greens on serving plates and top with cucumber ribbons, onion rings, watermelon segments (4 per salad) and feta. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar. Scatter nuts and mint over top.
Each serving contains: 217 calories; 7 g protein; 9 g total fat (3 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 30 g total carbohydrates (22 g sugars, 4 g fiber); 317 mg sodium
Grilled Potato Salad with Good-For-You Dressing
Potato salad is a summertime classic, but too often it’s also a calorie bomb. Here, a reasonable amount of tangy Greek yogurt offers a higher protein alternative to mayo, while the mustard and smoked paprika ensure each mouthful is as delicious as it is nutritious. The walnuts add healthy fats and textural contrast.
To avoid a soupy salad, make sure potatoes have cooled down before mixing with the yogurt dressing.
2 lbs (1 kg) new potatoes
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grapeseed oil or sunflower oil
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) plain yogurt
1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp (4 mL) smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped parsley
1/3 cup (80 mL) chopped walnuts
Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with water. Parboil them by bringing to a boil and cooking until potatoes are just barely fork tender. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, slice potatoes in half.
Preheat grill to medium and, ideally, place a vegetable basket on grill as it heats. Toss potatoes with grapeseed or sunflower oil and a pinch of salt. Spread out potatoes on grill or in grill basket and heat until cooked through and crispy, about 15 minutes, stirring or turning once halfway through cooking. Place in bowl and let cool.
Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, paprika and garlic. Add yogurt dressing to potatoes and toss to coat. Toss parsley and walnuts with potato salad.
Each serving contains: 219 calories; 6 g protein; 9 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 31 g total carbohydrates (3 g sugars, 4 g fiber); 188 mg sodium
Grilled Kale, Corn & Avocado Salad
If you want to step up your kale salad game, look no further than the grill. The result is a salad that’s Instagram ready and packed with new flavor nuances. The flat leaves of Tuscan kale are less likely to burn than curly kale, whose edges are prone to singeing. (Tuscan kale goes by several names, including dinosaur kale and lacinato kale.)
If you’re not using a vegetable basket, be sure to skewer the cherry tomatoes together. Wooden skewers need to be soaked for 30 minutes to avoid burning.
1 bunch Tuscan kale
1 1/2 Tbsp (22 mL) grapeseed oil, divided
2 cups (500 mL) cherry tomatoes
2 cobs of corn, husks removed
4 green onions, ends trimmed
1 avocado, halved, pit removed
3 Tbsp (45 mL) sliced almonds
1 Tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt, to taste
Preheat grill to medium. Brush kale leaves with about 2 tsp (10 mL) oil and spread out on grill grate. Heat, turning often, until lightly charred in spots, about 2 minutes. Do this in batches if necessary; don’t overcrowd the grill grate. Set aside.
Toss tomatoes with 1 tsp (5 mL) oil. Brush remaining oil on corn cobs, green onions and avocado halves. Place tomatoes, corn, onions and avocado on grill grate and heat until vegetables are darkened in places and tomatoes have softened, removing items from grill as they finish cooking. Turn tomatoes, corn and onions a couple of times during grilling. If needed, prepare vegetables in batches.
Slice off any tough stems from grilled kale and chop leaves into 2 in (5 cm) pieces. Place in large bowl. Once cool enough to handle, slice kernels off cobs and add to kale. Slice avocado into cubes and add to bowl. Slice green onions into 2 in (5 cm) pieces and add to bowl, followed by tomatoes and almonds. Toss with red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt, to taste.
Each serving contains: 285 calories; 9 g protein; 16 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 34 g total carbohydrates (5 g sugars, 9 g fiber); 158 mg sodium