Food for thought

Five unique, cost-effective foods to grill this summer

By Patrick Vaillancourt, Contributor

It’s time to refill those propane tanks and begin a legendary new barbecue season. Just because your life as a student has made you develop an affinity for pinching pennies doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on summer grilling season. The Other Press has teamed up with local chef Neil Moncrieff to give you five unique things you absolutely must try on your grill.

Moncrieff, who is an executive chef and recently has consulted on menus and restaurant operations for establishments all across the Lower Mainland, says that students who enjoy cooking should experiment with ingredients outside of their comfort zone. Here are his easy and budget-friendly suggestions!

1) Corn on the cob. Budget: approximately $0.67 per cob

Directions: Peel corn. Grill until golden brown.

In a world where so many people boil their food, it is important to remind ourselves that while boiling has its place, it is not appropriate for everything. Grilling your corn on the cob will allow the corn to keep all of its nutrients, and will taste sweeter than if boiled. No added butter or salt needed for this one. “Grilling the corn allows for it to keep all of its natural flavours and nutrients,” says Moncrieff.

2) Bacon-wrapped asparagus. Budget: approximately $10

Directions: Wrap one strip of bacon around an asparagus spear. Grill until bacon is golden brown.

No one has ever gone wrong with bacon, and this recipe will allow you to tell your mother that you are indeed getting your greens. The fats from the bacon strips will allow for the bacon to cook on the outside and give the asparagus a golden crisp on the inside. “Don’t overcook it,” warns Moncrieff, who particularly enjoys the crunch of fresh asparagus wrapped in bacon.

3) BBQ hashbrowns. Budget: approximately $5–$15, depending on spices used

Directions: Cut potato into cubes. Place in tin foil with butter and your choice of spices. Wrap foil in a ball. Grill for 10–15 minutes on medium to high heat.

Potatoes are a great item for your grill and perhaps the healthiest method of cooking them. Instead of baked potatoes, which are a common staple of BBQ lovers, change it up with cubed potatoes cooking in your chosen blend of herbs, spices, and butter. “It’s an alternative, healthier way to make hash browns,” says Moncrieff. He also adds that this is a decent meal for someone in a hurry or for someone looking for a snack while sipping on beers this summer.

4) Grilled marinated vegetables. Budget: approximately $7

Directions: Marinate assorted vegetables in your choice of sauce and let sit for a few hours. You can place the vegetables on skewers or right on the barbecue. Grill for five minutes, brushing the vegetables with the marinade.

For those seeking a vegetarian option this summer, there’s nothing like grilled vegetables. Whether you intend to serve these veggies on a bed of rice or as a stand-alone, this is a quick and incredibly healthy meal. It also makes for a delicious appetizer to serve at parties (go with the skewers for that), and is very cost-effective. “It’s healthy and it’s on the barbecue,” says Moncrieff. “What more do you want?” He reminds us that vegetables are good with almost anything.

5) Burgers. Budget: approximately $10–$20 with condiments

“Burgers may seem traditional, but it’s all in the way you make it,” says Moncrieff. You can use ground beef or other ground meats; ground chicken, turkey, and pork are easily available at a major supermarket. Not only can you play around with the meat, but you can add ingredients in the burger meat. Try incorporating some feta cheese and herbs in your meat as you prepare the burgers for the grill. This is one meal you can do some experimenting with.

Armed with Moncrieff’s tips, the Other Press hopes you try out these dishes either at home or at an outdoor party with friends—we guarantee people will like them so much, you’ll be stuck in front of the grill all day. Ah, summer!