Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of summer. It's also one of the most popular grilling days of the year, with hamburgers and hot dogs dominating the menu. In fact, 818 hot dogs are consumed every second from Memorial Day to Labor Day — that's 7 billion hot dogs in just four months!
But if the usual Memorial Day cookout recipes aren't your thing and you're looking to steer away from the typical hot dogs and hamburgers, here are a few dishes that will elevate this year's barbecue.
1. Red, white and blue salad
Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis puts a patriotic spin on salad with this flavorful recipe. The sweetness of the red grapes and blueberries cuts the saltiness of the gorgonzola, an Italian blue-veined cheese known for its "bite." Nutrient-dense pistachios add vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. This low-calorie dish can be served on its own or as a side.
2. Garlicky grilled shrimp
Shrimp is a dish that can be enjoyed any time of year, but it's even better when you can put it on the grill on a hot day. After marinating for 15 minutes, these shrimp skewers go from grill to table in less than 10 minutes. You can serve them on their own or over steamed rice. Not only is this dish delicious, but it's also good for you! Shrimp is a lean source of protein and contains key nutrients like vitamin B12, zinc and selenium.
3. Fruit tart
Who doesn't love a fruity dessert on a warm day? This fruit tart is easy as pie to make — actually, it might be easier! While this recipe uses blueberries, kiwi, mango and strawberries, you can substitute your favorite fruits. The nutritional value will vary depending on the fruits you use, but in general, you'll get a good dose of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
4. Sausage pinwheels with marinated peppers and grilled broccolini
Instead of serving sausages the traditional way, why not try this swirly twist on brats? Sure to stand out on the table, this quick and easy recipe gets a flavor boost from peppers, garlic and a bit of honey. It calls for Italian sausage, which can be hot, mild or sweet and differs from other sausages thanks to fennel as its primary seasoning.
Broccolini, contrary to popular belief, isn't baby broccoli — it's actually a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli. It's a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium and folate (vitamin B9).
5. Charred cabbage slaw
Coleslaw is a cookout staple for many people, but this classic side dish gets an upgrade when you toss the cabbage on the grill. Lime juice adds brightness to the dish, while a hint of sugar gives it a bit of sweetness. Traditional coleslaw includes mayonnaise in the dressing, but this recipe substitutes it with fish sauce and sambal oelek.
Cabbage is a low-calorie vegetable and is mostly fat-free. It also supports cardiovascular and brain health and may lower cancer risk.
6. Mojito watermelon
Watermelon is a summertime favorite that's pretty much perfect on its own. Of course, there's always room for improvement if you want to kick it up a notch. As hinted by the name, mojito watermelon features mint and lime, and a little bit of sea salt and pepper take the flavors even further.
7. Frozen lemonade
A cookout isn't complete without a nice cold drink, and nothing says summer quite like lemonade. But if you're looking for something a little more unique, this frozen lemonade recipe is sure to fit the bill. With the addition of vanilla ice cream and hints of fresh orange juice and lemon juice, this spin on lemonade is perfect for cooling down on a hot day.
If you're tired of your typical barbecue fare, elevate your menu with these Memorial Day cookout recipes. You may find that in addition to being great for ushering in the summer, you look forward to enjoying them any time of year.