Swap in healthier burgers. Set the table with recycled dishes. And, please, lose the lighter fluid. It's time to get fired up for a leaner, greener grilling season.
Tame the Flame
The higher the heat and the longer the cooking time, the greater the risk of carcinogens forming on such foods as skinless chicken breast, steak, and pork. Avoid cooking until well done, and scrape off potentially harmful burnt bits.
Work the Onion
Gliding the flat side of a halved onion over the grates will help remove cooked-on bits (and prep the surface for vegetarians).
Focus on the Footprint
It's always been a tough one to call: Gas is more convenient, but nothing tops that smoky charcoal flavor. And weighing the environmental impact isn't much easier. The typical gas grill releases a relatively low level of carbon dioxide (5.6 pounds per hour), but it runs on propane, a nonrenewable fossil fuel. meanwhile, an hour of grilling over charcoal produces 11 pounds of carbon dioxide and a fair amount of ash waste. (Fortunately, there are now some clean, renewable charcoals on the market).
You can cook an army's worth of these space savers at once. Soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes before grilling. Grill skewers over medium-high heat. (Recipes make four skewers each.)
Artichoke + Crusty Bread: Skewer two 15-ounce cans artichoke hearts (drained) and 2 1/2 cups torn crusty bread. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning, until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes.
Eggplant + Bell Pepper: Skewer 1 diced eggplant and 1 diced bell pepper. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill, turning, until tender and lightly charred, 8 to 9 minutes. Sprinkle with red-pepper flakes.
Potato + Celery + Onion: Skewer 8 ounces boiled and halved small potatoes, 2 stalks celery (peeled and cut into chunks), and 1 red onion (cut into wedges). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill, turning, until tender and lightly charred, 7 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with minced fresh chives.
Tomato + Bocconcini:
Skewer 1 1/2 pounds cocktail tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill, turning, until bursting and charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 to 2 bocconcini to skewer end and grill, 30 seconds more. Sprinkle with fresh oregano.
Scallion + Mushroom:
Skewer 5 ounces trimmed mixed mushrooms and 4 scallions (cut into 3-inch pieces). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.Grill, turning, until tender and lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes.
Up the yum factor with these better-for-you (and for-the-planet) slather-ons.
Lose the Lighter Fluid ...
Every squirt releases ozone-depleting toxic volatile organic compounds.
... And Use a Charcoal Chimney
The Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter is a steel pipe with vents at the bottom and a grate in the middle for briquettes. Light some crumpled paper at the bottom to ignite charcoal.