Hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill may be the shining stars of a cookout, but your guests will want other foods to nibble on while you cook the burgers and dogs. At your next cookout, offer your guests a variety of finger foods, from dips to veggies to petite sized sweets. The finger foods should be easy to prepare and ready to go when the party starts, so you can focus on the grill and your guests.
Dips and Salsa
You can buy pre-made dips and salsa, or you can make your own dip at home. Homemade dip often requires little more than pureeing ingredients. Make hummus by blending a can of chickpeas, a quarter cup each of lemon juice and tahini, and adding garlic, cumin, and paprika to taste. Drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil over top. You can make guacamole simply by mashing an avocado. Mix a bit of lime juice into it to prevent browning. If you like, stir in chopped onion, jalapeno and diced tomatoes. Prepare a bowl of salsa by combining a can of diced tomatoes and chiles, chopped cilantro, onion, garlic and a bit of canola oil. Serve the dips with pitas, baby carrots and chips.
Grilled Finger Foods
Before devoting your grill to the main course, prepare some quesadillas on it. All you need are flour or corn tortillas, grated cheese and other toppings of your choice. Place one tortilla directly on the grill, sprinkle with cheese and other toppings, then top with second tortilla. Press with a spatula or grill press. Allow to cheese to melt and tortilla to brown, then flip and cook until other side is browned. Slice into bite size triangles.
You can also grill pizza to serve as an appetizer. Roll out pizza dough so that it is thin about 8 inches in diameter. Place directly on the grill, cook until it is puffy. Remove from the grill and add your toppings, then place back on the grill and close the cover. Cook until the cheese is melted.
Corn on the cob is delicious when cooked on the grill. Leave the corn in the husk, but remove the silk strands. Soak the husked corn in water, and place on the grill. The corn is ready when the husk is dried out. You can also husk the corn and place it on the grill, so that the kernels blacken.
No cookout is complete without a dessert. Easy to prepare sweet finger foods include cookies and brownies. You can also make fruit kebabs by chopping cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and strawberries and threading them on skewers. If the weather is not too hot, consider serving chocolate dipped strawberries. Melt chocolate in the microwave. Cook it for 15 seconds, then open the microwave and stir. Cook for another 15 seconds, then stir and repeat until the chocolate is completely smooth. Dip whole strawberries in the melted chocolate. Place on a cutting board covered with parchment or wax paper to set.