Grilled Apples_CroppedAcross America, there’s a whiff of burning charcoal and sizzling meat in the air as grilling season shifts into high gear. Millions are stepping out of their kitchens and into their backyards, with only the sunny skies for a ceiling.

Now is the perfect time to stock up on apples. While you’re out buying ketchup and buns, grab a bag to keep in the crisper to make your barbecue even better.

Before you fire up the grill, try marinating pork tenderloin or chicken breast in a mix of apple juice, pureed apple, chopped herbs (like rosemary and thyme), and a dash of canola or olive oil. Boil the leftover marinade with a little brown sugar for a flavorful glaze you can pour over the finished meat.

And don’t forget the sides! There are plenty of ways to incorporate apples into your backyard feast:

  • Pick up a pre-packaged salad and toss it with chopped apple, bleu cheese and vinaigrette. Sprinkle some bleu cheese on your steak to make the whole meal come together.
  • If you’re in the mood for a healthy appetizer, throw together a simple cold salad using cooked wheat berries or quinoa. Add chopped apples, scallions, spinach and a lemon-honey dressing for a refreshing snack to tide you over while you wait for those burgers to brown.
  • Apple salsa is a zesty way to get your family to eat some healthful fruit and vegetables as a snack or part of your meal. Give them a bag of chips and they will devour it before the coals are even hot.

Apples are one of the easiest fruits to grill, with their firm, juicy flesh. First, slice apples thickly and toss with a little lemon juice. To prevent sticking, use tongs to dip a wadded piece of paper towel in canola oil and rub it on the grill grate. Place the apple slices on the grate, turning them every couple of minutes, until marked and tender, about 3-5 minutes. For a savory side, sprinkle the finished apples with salt and pepper. For dessert, toss the hot grilled apples in a bowl with maple syrup or honey, then serve over ice cream.

Don’t miss a second of grilling season, and make sure you have plenty of apples to add to the fun.