Chefs' Picks: Grilling Greats

Chefs share their favorite grilled dishes, including peaches, pizza and avocados.

Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.

On beautiful summer days, chefs are just as likely as hoi polloi to hover over the backyard grill. But many go beyond basic burgers and dogs, upping the fire-licked ante with pizza, fruit and more.

Pizza Dough

For Executive Pastry Chef Molly Hanson of Boston's Post 390 and Grill 23 & Bar, pizza is better on a grill than in an oven. She recommends grilling it on parchment paper over medium to low heat to let the dough bake before taking on a char. After adorning the dough with pizza sauce and toppings, Hanson advises, finish it on a covered grill. "I also love to use the grilled bread to wrap a sandwich up; it works well with grilled meat and vegetables," Hanson says.

Avocados

Chef Matt Deliso of New York City's Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen takes the guacamole superstar and adds a char. Inspired by the concept of cooking something that's usually eaten raw, he wanted to play around with grilled avocados as a spread. The accompanying sour cream sauce has elements of guacamole: think chiles and cilantro, along with lime juice for acidity. The whole lot is served in the restaurant with fresh-baked, crisp country white bread.

Peaches

Pie filling gets a savory spin when Garrison Chef-Owner Rob Weland is around: He prepares a grilled variation on peaches at his Washington, D.C., restaurant. "I love this dish because it's a perfect play on sweet and savory with a little smoke/char thrown in," he says. "People think peaches and automatically go to dessert recipes, but peaches are great on savory dishes." Weland serves his grilled local peaches with Maplebrook Farms Burrata, charred and wilted dandelion greens, and anchovy dressing. To augment the summery vacation flavor, Weland uses Burrata from Bennington, Vt. "I've been going there for getaways since 2001, and it makes me happy to bring a little piece of Vermont to Garrison," Weland explains.

Lettuce

Crisp, cooling lettuce is just the ticket on hot summer days, but Aaron Fitterman, executive chef of New York City's Aretsky's Patroon, loves it fresh off the grill too. "An item that I like to grill that is not your everyday barbecue dish is baby heads of lettuce, like baby gem or radicchio," he says. "They are given a really nice char that I like to top with a lemony, savory dressing for a beautiful, quick and easy salad."

Photos courtesy of Lauren Brakoniecki, Steve Hill, Garrison and Aretsky's Patroon 

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