Why: “Grilling fruit is always a good option because it helps release natural sugars and create caramelization,” notes chef Oliver Ridgeway of Sacramento’s Grange Restaurant & Bar.
How: For a Boy Scout-inspired treat, make an incision into a whole banana, skin still on, and fill the cavity with brown sugar and raisins or chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Why: There are dual benefits to grilling pound cake (or really any dense, moist sweet), explains James Beard Award winner Bradford Thomas, who recently opened the pizza-centric Heartwood in Manhattan. “You get a nice char while warming the center so that when you cut into it, it's got a delicious gooey consistency.”
How: Cut thick (1.5”) slices, grill for about a minute on each side, and top with whipped cream, berries, and a drizzle of honey.
Why: Avocados become even creamier, slightly smoky, and all around amazing when you throw them on the grill, notes the culinary crew at San Diego’s Hello Betty Fish House.
How: Cut in half and remove the seed, but leave the skins on. Place cut side down and grill for five to seven minutes. Spread on toast, use for the best guacamole ever, or just stuff the center with salsa and cheese, and eat it straight off the grill.
Why: “Grilling oysters offers up flavor from the grill—ideally wood or charcoal—that you don’t get from steaming or baking,” says chef Dylan Fultineer of Rappahannock Oyster Co..
How: Place oysters, flat side up, on a low to medium-hot grill with the cover down for about five minutes, or until the shells open up. Shuck carefully—they’ll be hot!—and serve with your favorite sauce, like butter and hot sauce.
Why: “When you grill a mushroom, it brings out a deep flavor that is better than sautéing or roasting,” says Will Nolan, the executive chef at the Viceroy Snowmass, who also adds that grilling with butter lends a nutty flavor to the mix.
How: Depending on the type of mushroom, you can either throw the mushrooms directly on the grill (great for cluster mushrooms like oysters) or, for smaller varieties, like chanterelles and shitakes, arrange in a perforated grill pan. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Why: You’ve eaten kale every other way possible (raw, sautéed, blanched, converted into chips). On the grill, explains Doron Wong, chef of New York’s Yunnan Kitchen, kale turns crispy—and makes for a great, hearty salad.
How: Wong likes to pair grilled dinosaur kale with bacon (which he also grills!), apples, Szechuan pepper, and lemon juice.