We all know that zucchini and eggplant slices are great when drenched in olive oil and tossed on the barbecue. Or peppers and mushrooms on a shish kebab stick. But now that it's officially cookout season, what else works just as well, or better? To be honest, there are few foods that don't taste better when charred on an open flame. Here are a few of the best, and less predictable, ingredients to fire up to make your party-spread a little more exciting.
: It's like grilled onions, only with a more distinct flavor (anise). This crunchy, fibrous bulb softens a little on the grill while retaining its snap, and its flavor becomes more concentrated with a little char. Squeeze some lemon on it or serve with a soft lump of fresh cheese like burrata with chili flakes and olive oil.
2. Fava Beans
: Grilling whole fava beans in their pods steams the beans until tender and juicy inside, while making the tough pod more palatable. The crispy grill marks on the outside are inviting, especially when sprinkled with sea salt and lemon. Just strip off the fibrous strand that runs down the length of the bean before grilling, and give it a coat of olive oil. [image
3. Bok Choy
: Those leafy green parts become crispy, while the juicy white stalks soften to a crisp-tender texture. The once bland-tasting cabbage relative altogether gets smokier and more flavorful—squeeze some Sriracha on those suckers for even more of that.
: Roasted carrots are yummy, and grilled ones are, too. Especially the plump and juicy ones that come in the summer. Split them down the middle lengthwise into flat spears, and toss them in olive oil and salt before giving them grill marks.
5. Duck breast
: Give yourself the luxury treatment with a couple of these thick, bloody-red duck breasts. Toss them on the grill, skin-side down, to crisp all that fat and lightly cook the meat to medium-rare. No need to flip again if you cover the grill for a few minutes; cook until the inside is still red and the skin is golden and crunchy, rather than rubbery. [image
: Baby potatoes on a shish kebab stick will accumulate lots of nice, toasty flavor on a grill. You can also slice up some potatoes to toss in olive oil and grill on each side just like slices of eggplant, too. Sprinkle them with some fresh herbs to finish, or use them in a flavorful potato salad or mash afterward. [image
: Avoid boiling a huge pot of water on the stove on a hot summer day by grilling the sea bugs instead. Split in half down the center with a cleaver, to expose the tail meat to the open flame, is a faster, and tastier way to cook them instead. If you're squeamish about butchering up a live lobster, have your fishmonger do the dirty work, and grill them at home right away. [image
: Clams, oysters and other shellfish open beautifully when placed on a hot grill. Have a dish of melted butter with herbs, or a tangy vinaigrette to drench the hot morsels with, finger-food style. [image
9. Whole artichokes
: Rather than steam these cumbersome 'chokes in your kitchen until soft, steam their insides outdoors on a hot grill. The scaly, prickly surface will be peeled off to expose the cooked, edible core, and you can pick your way through the leaves to dip in butter and slurp up as you get to them. [image
: If you're making a dish that calls for roasting garlic, skip the hot oven and simply toss a whole garlic head on the grill. Rub it with olive oil to make sure it doesn't burn, and keep it over a low, steady flame (or off to the side as you grill other things). After a long while, if the bulb feels soft to the touch, chop it in half and squeeze out the soft, roasted flesh. [image