Grill up seafood, vegetables and even fruit at this year's summer barbecues

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Grilled shrimp with green cilantro-chile-lime sauce and grilled limes. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Grilled shrimp with green cilantro-chile-lime sauce and grilled limes. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

I’m going to take a wild guess that you fired up your grill at least once over this past holiday weekend. Summer is officially off and running, and that means more time outdoors and more time cooking simple, seasonal meals over a hot fire, be it charcoal, gas, or wood.

I use my grill all season for everything from the most expected summer foods — burgers, sausages, steaks and hot dogs — to the unexpected. I love grilling seafood, vegetables, meat and poultry, and even fruit. Yes, the grill caramelizes fruit's natural sugars. Here are three extremely simple recipes for early summer meals. In fact, you could make all three and have a beautiful all-grilled meal.

The first recipe is for grilled shrimp with a green cilantro-chile-lime sauce with grilled limes.  The shrimp are lightly marinated and then grilled whole, with or without the shell. Then they're served with grilled lime halves and the slightly spicy sauce.

Next up is a vegetable that doesn’t get enough attention. Broccolini takes beautifully to a hot grill and is tossed with a simple miso butter. It’s a great side dish or the basis for a summer salad.

And finally, grilled pineapple dusted with ginger-scented sugar. These juicy, sweet slices of pineapple work in a variety of ways, both sweet and savory. Think of grilled pineapple paired with ice cream or butter cookies. Or served alongside grilled shrimp or fish, poultry or meat. You could even use it as the basis of a grilled pineapple salsa.

None of these recipes takes any significant amount of time. Clean off the grill (last year's debris is still waiting for you on the racks and needs to be scrubbed clean) and light the fire. Dinner will be ready in no time.

Grilling tips

  1. Thoroughly clean off the racks on your grill. The cleaner they are, the less likely food will stick. Beware of wire brushes. They are quite dangerous as the bristles can come off and stick to your food. Instead, look for a plastic brush or kitchen scrubber. Or buy a brush with nylon bristle brushes or stainless steel brushes.
  2. To infuse meats, poultry and seafood with even more flavor, lay a “bed” of fresh herbs directly on the rack over the fire — think sage, rosemary, dill, thyme — and place your food on top. The herbs will heat up and infuse their flavor into the food you are grilling. This is particularly good with fish filets and other mild foods that will benefit from extra flavor. You can lay a “bed” of thinly sliced lemons or limes and place food directly on top to infuse them with citrus flavor.
Grilled shrimp with green cilantro-chile-lime sauce and grilled limes. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Grilled shrimp with green cilantro-chile-lime sauce and grilled limes. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Grilled shrimp with green cilantro-chili-lime sauce and grilled limes

This full-flavored green sauce works well with virtually any grilled food but has a particular affinity for grilled shrimp and seafood.

The shrimp is lightly marinated in olive oil, garlic and chile paste for just an hour (or several). The sauce comes together in no time — whirl up cilantro, scallions, chives, garlic, chile paste and lime juice — making this a great summer grilling staple. The sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for several days.

Serves 2 to 4.


The shrimp and limes

  • 1 pound medium or medium-large shrimp, shelled or unshelled and deveined*
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or chili crisp, depending on how spicy you like it
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 limes or lemons, cut in half

The green cilantro-chile-lime sauce

  • 1 cup cilantro with stems (parsley, while milder, can be substituted)
  • ¼ cup fresh chives or parsley, chopped
  • 2 scallions, ends trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • Pinch hot pepper sauce, chile flakes or ½ to 1 teaspoon chile crisp
  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

*You can keep the shells and head on the shrimp if you like. I prefer to keep the shells on because I believe it keeps the moisture in when the shrimp hits the hot grill. But it’s entirely up to you. To devein the shrimp, ask your fishmonger to do it for you, or cut a very thin slit into the back of the shrimp (through the shell or directly into the flesh) and remove the thin black vein that runs throughout the length of the shrimp flesh. 



  1. Marinate the shrimp: Place the shrimp in a non-reactive bowl and toss with the garlic, hot pepper, and olive oil. Marinate for 1 hour or up to 12 hours, covered and refrigerated.
  2. Make the green sauce: In the container of a food processor or blender, mix the cilantro, chives (or parsley), scallions and garlic and whirl. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, pepper sauce (or chili flakes or chili crisp)  and lime (or lemon) juice and whirl until thick and chunky. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, chilis or lime juice if needed. Cover and refrigerate for up to several days.
  3. Heat the grill: Heat a charcoal or gas grill until hot, about 400 degrees. Place a grilling rack on the grill and let it heat up. Be sure to scrape off any food still clinging to the rack from a previous grilling session. Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and spread on the hot grill rack in a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes. Gently flip the shrimp over and add the limes, cut side down, to the hot grill. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp and whether or not you have shelled them; shelled shrimp cook faster) or until just firm and the shell (if using) is pink. Remove from the grill and place on a large platter. Add the grilled limes and serve with the green sauce.

Charred broccolini with miso butter

Charred broccolini with miso butter. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Charred broccolini with miso butter. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Broccolini is a seriously undervalued vegetable. What is it exactly? A cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli, broccolini is a member of the Brassica family. It’s longer and leafier than regular broccoli and has a milder, almost sweet flavor. The florets are way smaller than regular broccoli and the long stems lend themselves to a hot grill as they offer a great crunch. I char them over a hot fire and then toss them with a simple miso butter.

You could also serve this at room temperature and toss it with a miso vinaigrette: whisk together ½ tablespoon light miso, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a few teaspoons of lemon juice or white wine vinegar.

Any leftover miso butter is great on grilled vegetables, chicken, steaks, chops and seafood.

Serves 4.


  • 1 pound broccolini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon light miso


  1. Preheat a gas, coal or wood fire until hot, about 400 degrees. Place a grill rack on top of the grates and let it preheat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Wash the broccolini and let the water cling to the leaves. Place on a plate and toss with olive oil and pepper.
  3. Make the miso butter: in a small bowl, thoroughly mix the butter and miso.
  4. Transfer the broccolini to the grill rack and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, tossing frequently, until charred and the stems are just tender.
  5. Toss with some of the miso butter as soon as you remove it from the grill so the heat of the grill melts it.

Grilled pineapple with ginger sugar

Grilled pineapple with ginger sugar. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Grilled pineapple with ginger sugar. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

There are so many uses for this simple recipe that I’m not sure where to start. Let’s begin with savory; you can chop the grilled pineapple and toss it with chopped tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers and herbs, and lemon or lime juice to make a grilled pineapple salsa. You can serve the grilled pineapple chunks with grilled fish, shellfish, pork, chicken or beef. You can add a scoop of ice cream to several pieces of grilled pineapple and have a simple summer dessert. What else? Add it to salads, sauces, or mix it with other tropical fruits like avocado, oranges and mango. Endless possibilities. Add to a grilled shrimp and pineapple salad or toss chicken salad with chopped grilled pineapple.

You could also try this grilling method with slices of ripe seasonal peaches, plums, apricots or strawberries.

Serves 4 to 6.


  • 1 ripe pineapple, peeled and cored and cut into large chunks or slices, about 1 inch thick
  • About ⅓ cup sugar
  • About 1 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Heat the grill to about 375 or 400 degrees. Place a grill rack on top.
  2. In a small bowl mix the sugar and ginger.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of the pineapple pieces with some of the ginger sugar. Place on a grill rack and grill for about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the ripeness and thickness of the chunks. Gently flip and sprinkle with more sugar and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes. The pineapple is ready when the sugar has caramelized and the pineapple, when tested with a small, sharp knife, feels slightly soft from cooking. You don’t want the pineapple to be mushy, but you want it slightly softened.

Other favorite grilling recipes

  • Click here for recipes for yogurt and spice-marinated chicken shawarma, Tahini sauce, Tomato, cucumber and cilantro salad and grilled artichokes with lemon and olive oil.
  • Click here for recipes for grilled avocado with tamari, pickled ginger and lime with sesame seeds, grilled asparagus with lemon, tomatoes and feta cheese, and grilled vegetable kebabs with chimichurri sauce.
  • Click here for recipes for Asian-inspired grilled chicken lettuce wraps, Middle Eastern-inspired grilled eggplant with tomato sauce and spiced yogurt, and grilled cod with basil on a lemon and scallion 'bed.'
  • Click here for recipes for slow-smoked Texas-style brisket, dry-rubbed pork ribs with barbecue sauce, and Asian-style coleslaw.
  • How to grill lobster:
  • How to grill pizza:

This segment aired on May 30, 2024.


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Kathy Gunst Resident Chef, Here & Now
Kathy Gunst is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of 15 cookbooks.



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