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Avoid getting grilled by summer cuisine prices

Summer is the prime-time grilling season, and although inflation is grilling checkbooks nationwide, your mealtime spread doesn’t need to take a hit. After your stop at the Boilermaker Butcher Block, here are some additional grilling ideas to consider. 

Getting creative with fresh fruits and vegetables on the grill can keep things fun, flavorful and low in price if purchased in season, said Allison Kingery, managing director of the Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute.  

Looking to fruits currently in season, like peaches, Kingery said prepping those on a grill alongside other meat entrees like pork can heighten the experience of savory or sweet dishes in a small amount of time. 

“Grilled peaches are a simple side dish. All you need to do is slice it in half and remove the pit, though using freestone peaches cuts out the latter half of that work,” she said. “The sugars in the peach lend themselves to caramelization, so no additional sugar is needed. All it takes is a high amount of heat, like between 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit, and a short amount of time to completely change the peach’s profile.” 

Grilling fruit can be an unconventional way to add deeper flavor where it’s unexpected, Kingery said. While peaches or watermelon are known fruits to hold up well over the grill’s grates, exploring the vast variety of fruits in season opens a wide realm of dish and beverage possibilities.  

“Grilling lemons, for example, creates an unexpected layer of smokiness to lemonade,” Kingery explained. “The idea there is similar to that of torching an orange peel for an old fashioned.” 

While grilling vegetables is much more common and frequent than fruit, there are still some unexpected ways to surprise company with what appears on their plates. 

“One of my favorites to make is grilled romaine lettuce,” Kingery said. “You just slice the romaine right down the middle vertically, toss it in just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, then place it on the hot grill for just a few minutes to get those grill marks on there, and just like that you’ve added a delicious flavor to what was once your simple romaine lettuce.” 

Chris Adair, manager of the Purdue Student Farm, said much of the produce found in the Student Farm’s CSA Program weekly boxes can be utilized on the grill. One of his team’s grill favorites was found after experimenting with different varieties of squash on the farm. 

“We actually grilled a butternut squash. We put the entire thing on the grill and just let it cook for an hour or so, making sure we rotated it,” Adair said. “Grilling it ended up really bringing out the sweetness and heightened the overall flavor more than any other way I’ve cooked it. We didn’t expect it to end up being the favorite.” 

Making the most out of what’s in season, and what’s on sale, doesn’t need to be a high stress game, Kingery said. Don’t over think it. 

“There’s no rule book to follow. It’s something to experiment with, and you may find a new favorite dish,” she said. “When grilling produce, it’s best eaten immediately after grilling, so I wouldn’t advise grilling enough of something like peaches for leftovers. There is beauty in serving some things at the opposite temperature you’d expect them to be.” 

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