Barbecuing and berries: a great summer combo

By Stacey Stein

Summer is here, which means Canadians will finally get to indulge in some of their favourite pastimes, including barbecuing and visiting a local pick-your-own farm during berry season.

While barbecuing and berries might not seem like an obvious pairing at first, there are many creative and delicious ways you can include berries when grilling.

Aside from their versatility and pure tastiness, there are other reasons to consider incorporating berries into your summer menu.

“Most barbecues tend to be very meat-centric and are generally full of higher calorie, higher fat options, like creamy pasta salads and chips,” says registered dietitian Shannon Crocker. “Bringing in berries makes things healthier and they’re low in calories and sugar, and high in fibre.”

Crocker also points to the many health benefits of berries. “Studies have found that berries can help boost heart health,” she says, adding this is related to the fact that they’re chock-full of antioxidants. “Plant compounds found in berries may help to reduce inflammation, so they may also help with healthful aging.”

Berries can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. Here are a few ways to incorporate them when you’re barbecuing this summer.

Appetizers

  • Try swapping berries for watermelon in this mouth-watering halloumi and watermelon salad, which features halloumi cheese placed on the grill to make it warm and oozy. Crocker notes you can swap in either blueberries or blackberries.
  • Combining cottage cheese, blue cheese, walnuts and strawberries, this grilled crostini makes for a nutrient- and protein-rich appetizer. To bump up the nutrition value even more, Crocker recommends using a whole grain baguette rather than a white one.

Mains

  • Featuring fresh strawberries and sour cream, this tangy summer horseradish is a great accompaniment to barbecued steak. According to Crocker, strawberries and beef is a pairing that works together really well.
  • Try making a berry marinade for chicken or steak before placing it on the grill. To make a simple marinade, purée a pint of blueberries, then add a splash of red wine vinegar, some canola oil, honey, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and sea salt.

Desserts

  • You can make an all-berry grilled fruit kabob using strawberries and blackberries, which hang well on a skewer. Paired with a tasty sour cream honey dip, this is a simple and unique dessert idea. Simply swap out the other fruit in this recipe and use only berries.
  • For a twist on classic strawberry shortcake, Crocker suggests grilling the cake lightly before topping it with berries and whipped cream.
  • Grilled berries make for a simple and delicious dessert – just drizzle lime juice over the berries, add some honey, a pinch of sea salt and a little bit of butter, place the berries into a foil packet and grill over medium for about 10 minutes. There are different ways you can serve your grilled berries – over grilled pound cake, in small glass mason jars, or as a topping for strawberry shortcake. Whichever way you choose, don’t forget to top it all off with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Drinks

  • Try serving berry-infused water at your barbecue this summer – simply add some berries and ice to a large pitcher of water. The water will turn pink as it becomes infused with the flavour of the berries. You can also add some basil or mint for an interesting twist.
  • Your guests will enjoy this berry spritzer – simply combine soda water with muddled raspberries, a squeeze of lime juice and a splash of white wine.

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