The weather has been hot, breaking temperature records in our neck of the woods, so we’re thankful to avoid using the oven and enjoy an afternoon barbequing in the backyard. This week we grill some family favourites, like kale and bananas. Plus we try a new accessory for our Weber grill, a pizza oven.
Getting kids to eat greens in the summer usually means salad, raw cucumbers, or maybe some green peppers with hummus. These tend to be vegetable snack staples in our house. But after reading about the benefits of kale and watching Today I ate a Rainbow’s video on how easy it is to make kale chips, I made the leap to introduce this leafy vegetable to my kids and they loved it.
BBQ Sunday: Grilled Kale Chips
When we tried grilling them on the BBQ I think the kids actually enjoyed the flavour even more. They’re so easy to make too, just like when you are preparing them for the oven. Wash the kale leaves, picking out any bad or small leaves, and cut about an inch or two from the bottom stem then put them in a bowl with some olive oil and sea salt. You just need enough oil to cover all the leaves (which isn’t a lot, maybe a tablespoon). Since the leaves tend to be folded over, make sure to use your hands to rub the oil all over the leaf. According to Kia’s video (Today I Ate a Rainbow) messaging the oil into the leaves also relaxes the leaves too.
Unlike when making kale chips in the oven, the leaves won’t be placed on a pan but will sit right on the grill. To avoid issues with small pieces, I kept the leaves whole. This also makes it easy to turn and place the leaves.
With the fire set at medium, the leaves are placed on the outer edge of the grill (indirect cooking) to avoid burning. After about 10 minutes on one side (when the leaves start to brown a little) they are flipped to cook the other side. Then the whole leaf is taken off and ready to enjoy (mind the heat). The kids loved these. We easily go through a whole head of kale in one sitting and it’s a great backyard snack. Although we grilled the leaves with the stems attached, we didn’t eat the stems (not very tasty) so I think ext time I might try preparing the whole leave with the stem cut out.
BBQ Sunday: Grilled Pizza in a BBQ Pizza Oven
Homemade pizza is another favourite for us. You can make your own dough, it’s easy enough, but you can find pretty good pre-made dough available in the freezer and bakery section of your local grocery store. You’re local independent pizza joint might even sell you a ball of dough if you ask.
We’ve had wood-fired pizza before so why not try making our own on the grill. Although I have seen people cook their pizza dough right on the grill we played it safe and used a pizza pan, something designed to handle high temperatures (between 600-700F).
You can certainly cook pizza within your standard BBQ grill but I like to monitor how the pizza is cooking. That’s where our new Weber accessory comes in – the Kettle Pizza Oven . This unit is easy to put together and sits right on your kettle grill, like our Weber Performa, and the lid sits right on top of that. There are a few advantages to using the Kettle Pizza Oven attachment over just cooking in your BBQ:
- The Kettle Pizza Oven adds some height to your cooking area, enabling the heat to rise up and over the top of your pizza, ensuring the top and bottom are cooked.
- Like a traditional pizza oven, there’s a slot for sliding your pizza in. You can monitor your pizza cooking without removing the lid every few minutes thereby retaining the oven’s heat and also avoiding over cooking/burning your pizza.
Just like the nachos we made last weekend, the kids love customizing their own pizzas. We even set-up a workstation on our outside prep table so no one had to go in the house and could be outside where all the fun was happening. We made flat pizzas, panzerottis, deep dish (using the individual pizza pans from William Sonoma), and even pizza buns.
Although my kids love standard sauce, salsa makes a great base for pizza too. The Black Label Peach and Mango salsa I used on my nachos was amazing on my pizza with sausage and cheese. Pizzas are also great for leftovers. My daughter took a leftover hamburger and crumbled it on her pizza with some pineapple. I tried some leftover salmon we grilled on cedar planks with some salsa and cheese and it was fabulous. Individual pizzas mean we can make and share a variety of flavours in one sitting.
Unlike last weekend, I didn’t make any cocktail concoctions like the Watermelon Mojitos but I did enjoy a mojito. Bacardi’s Classic Mojito mix is actually really nice and all I had to do was add ice and some frozen fruit (raspberries for colour) and enjoy.
BBQ Sunday: Grilled Banana’s and Ice Cream
The pizza oven gets hot which means it takes some time to cool down. This makes it perfect for doing dessert. I have heard that grilled fruit is amazing, where the act of grilling the fruit caramelizes it, bring out a whole new flavour. So when I read the Grilled Banana Split recipe in the cookbook Grill This, Not That: Backyard Survival Guide (from Raincoast Books), I had to try it. Simply slice the banana in half length-wise and press some brown sugar into the exposed flesh (similarly to when grilling pineapple). Keeping the skin on, place the brown sugar side down on the grill, over indirect heat (medium low) and grill for about 5 minutes. You can start to smell the banana and sugar blending together. Then turn the banana over and grill the other side, about 2 minutes, to warm the banana throughout.
You can serve in the skin and people can scoop the banana out or you can slide the fruit out of the peel. The later option is a little tricky and can be hard to keep the whole banana intact sometimes. Drop a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream on the warm banana and drizzle with some chocolate sauce or whatever sundae type toppings you like and enjoy. This is so good! I love the mix of hot and cold together too.
Although we loved the ribs and nachos on the BBQ last week, it’s nice to try something different like pizza, kale and bananas. Take some of your family’s favourite foods and try them on the grill.