Fire up the grill — What to make on Memorial Day

A new Weber survey shows 56 percent of people feel happy when they fire up the grill.
(Photo by Emily Ryan)
A new Weber survey shows 56 percent of people feel happy when they fire up the grill. (Photo by Emily Ryan)
Grilling brings out the sweetness of watermelon.
 (Photo courtesy of Albertson Cooking School)
Grilling brings out the sweetness of watermelon. (Photo courtesy of Albertson Cooking School)

Tired of the same old meals on the grill? With the unofficial start of summer just days away, wow family and friends with some new recipes.

“I love grilling. I love the infinite possibilities,” said Libby Mills of West Chester, a nutrition and cooking coach, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“It’s so easy and simple for summer. And yet it has that element of surprise because everything you can make inside, you can make outside,” she added.

Mills grills it all — from edamame to tofu to burgers.


“I think the grill is ever-evolving in terms of what we can do,” said Ann-Michelle Albertson, culinary director of Albertson Cooking School in Wynnewood. “It’s my favorite, easiest cooking tool there is.”

Try her Grilled Watermelon Salad as a tasty summer starter.

“After a safari ride in South Africa, I came back, and this was the first course of the dinner I had there,” Albertson recalled. “When you sear the watermelon on the grill, it brings out the sugars. It helps to caramelize it a little bit.”

Grilling can transform just about anything.

“Buffalo is good on the grill,” said Fred Duerr, executive chef at Rising Sun Inn in Franconia. “I think most steaks on the bone taste best on the grill – any meats with a bone, chicken, pork chops.”

One of his specialties: Grilled Caribbean (Jerk) Chicken, which he’ll serve at the restaurant’s holiday picnic on Sunday.

“It has hints of sweet, spicy and smoky flavor,” described Duerr.

For Albertson, food just tastes “fresher and more flavorful” on the grill.

“I also love it because you don’t have as many dishes to clean up,” she joked.

Grilled Caribbean (Jerk) Chicken

2 whole chickens, quartered

½ cup diced onion

½ cup diced red pepper

½ cup diced green pepper

¼ cup diced jalapeno pepper

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup teriyaki sauce

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Pour over chicken. Marinate 1 hour to overnight. Grill 5 to 10 minutes on both sides. Finish on indirect heat on grill 30 to 40 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Rising Sun Inn

Grilled Pork Loin “Hatfield Premium Reserve” with Dijon, Maple, Bourbon Soy Glaze

4 (6-ounce) pork chops “Hatfield Premium Reserve”

4 ounces bourbon

4 ounces maple syrup

4 ounces Dijon mustard

4 ounces soy sauce

¼ cup ground shallots

Combine bourbon, maple syrup, Dijon and soy. Marinate pork chops with ¼ of marinade. Add ground shallots to marinade. Set the rest of the marinade aside. Grill pork chops 3 to 5 minutes each side. Baste pork chops as needed.

Recipe courtesy of Rising Sun Inn

Grilled Watermelon Salad

1 bag mixed baby greens

1 small watermelon, sliced

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

½ cup toasted pine nuts

Olive oil

Aged balsamic vinegar

Sea salt

Fresh cracked pepper

Assemble the baby lettuces on a platter. Garnish with the feta cheese and pine nuts. Set aside. On a very hot grill, sear the watermelon slices on both sides. Remove from grill and quickly cut into cubes. Place watermelon cubes on lettuce platter. Drizzle with aged balsamic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Albertson Cooking School

Grilled Edamame with Lemon and Crushed Chili Peppers

Perfect for the next patio party or simply mouth-watering side for tonight’s dinner. Nothing makes for more fun than casual finger food bursting with flavor. Tender edamame easily pop from their shells, picking up just the right amount of fresh lemony spice.

1 pound frozen edamame, thawed and patted dry

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 scallion, thinly sliced crosswise

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Kosher salt

Light the grill. In a large bowl, toss the edamame with the grapeseed oil. Into a perforated vegetable grill pan or onto a sheet of foil, place a thin layer of edamame. Grill the edamame over high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until the pods are softened and browned in spots. A little charring is fine. If cooking the edamame on foil, you will not get the same coloring. Return the beans to the bowl and toss with the scallion, crushed red pepper, lemon zest, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges. Makes: 6 servings

This recipe also can be made with fresh chick peas, in season through early June or fresh fava beans, in season well into the summer. If using fava beans, pop the beans from the pod as you would edamame, but also remove the outer membrane from the bean. It is tough and a little bitter.

Recipe courtesy of Libby Mills

BBQ Marinade

Great marinade for beef short ribs, pork tenderloin, extra-firm tofu, portabella mushrooms or tempeh. To use as a vegetable stir-fry sauce, just thicken by heating with 1½ teaspoons cornstarch.

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

½ of a firm pear, grated

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 to 2 scallions, chopped

1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Dash of freshly ground black pepper

Place a large re-sealable plastic bag into a large bowl, so that you can easily combine all the ingredients directly in the bag. Finely grate the pear into the plastic bag. Add all remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust quantities, if desired. This marinade can be prepared the night before. Makes: about ½ cup

Recipe courtesy of Libby Mills

BBQ Tofu Burger with Miso-Garlic, Ginger Vinaigrette


1/3 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons miso

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Purée vinegar, miso, garlic, sugar and ginger in blender. While the blender is running, gradually pour in oil; blend until mixture is creamy. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Makes: about ¾ cup

*For vibrant green color and fresh flavor, blend in 2 tablespoons of cilantro.

BBQ tofu:

1 Recipe BBQ Marinade

2 (8-ounce) blocks extra-firm tofu, drained

6 sesame seed buns

6 leaves of iceberg lettuce

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely shredded

Line a plate with a clean dish towel folded to fit the plate. Set the tofu on top and cover with another clean, folded dish towel. Set a second small plate on top of the tofu and weight it down with something heavy, like several cans of food. Press for 15 to 30 minutes. The towels will absorb the liquid.

Carefully slice tofu into 1½-inch thick slices. Place the tofu into the large re-sealable plastic bag with the BBQ Marinade, making sure each piece gets coated with the liquid. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, turning at least once. Tougher proteins like meat can marinate up to 12 hours.

Lightly grease the grill. Cook the tofu over medium flame for 6 to 7 minutes on each side, basting with extra marinade. While tofu is cooking, place the cut-surface of the buns on the grill and toast until light brown. Serve on a sesame seed bun, topped with iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and a good drizzle of Miso-Garlic, Ginger Vinaigrette. Makes: 6 servings, 2 slices each

*You can substitute 6 portabella mushrooms, 1 pork tenderloin cut into ½-inch slices or 2 (8-ounce) blocks tempeh, adjusting the cook time.

Recipe courtesy of Libby Mills


Grilling 101

Looking to perfect your grill skills? Take a tip (or two) from the pros.

Executive chef Fred Duerr of Rising Sun Inn always keeps “a hot grill on one side and a cool grill on the other side.”

“If something starts getting away from you, you have somewhere to put it. Just move it to the side,” he explained.

And remember not to flip food too much.

“Limit your turns. You only want to turn fish one or two times when you cook on the grill. Turn steak three or four times, not every 10 seconds,” Duerr said. “Let steak rest 5 to 10 minutes before you cut into it.”

What about burgers? May is National Burger Month.

“You want to avoid pressing down on the burger with a spatula,” urged Libby Mills, a nutrition and cooking coach. “You’re squeezing out the juices.”

Instead, seal in those juices by searing the outside.

Here’s another way to retain moisture and boost flavor: “You can always lay slices of citrus rounds on top of the burger,” she suggested. “It sounds funny, but orange goes beautifully with beef.”

Hungry for more advice?

“We have an annual outdoor grilling series. We call it ‘Sizzle into Summer,’” said Ann-Michelle Albertson, culinary director of Albertson Cooking School.

Classes, held at Shipley Upper School in Bryn Mawr, begin June 2 and feature guest chefs.