Iíve given up the charcoal grill. No more lugging bulky bags of charcoal. Forget the endless wait for coals to turn red, then white. And out with unevenly cooked food, burnt on one end, raw on the other. When I thought I would miss the smoky flavor of charcoal, a friend advised me to buy a small back-up charcoal grill. Another friend listed all the health risks associated with charcoal smoke. I went heedless of all their advice and made my decision on the already mentioned lugging and waiting, etc.

Iím happily back at my usual summertime spot in the backyard, grilling everything I find and finding I enjoy it more than ever. I stopped buying roasted peppers in the jar and instead throw whole fresh peppers on the grill, turning up the heat until the skins char. I grill fish and shellfish, putting a piece of foil on the grate and poking holes through it with the point of a knife to improvise a basket. Skip the expense of buying a basket. Skip the scrubbing. Just throw out the foil.

I find that nearly everything that grows in a garden or I find at the farmers market grills up nicely, either to eat right away or saved to use later. Well, maybe not cucumbers.

GREEN BEANS: Trimmed green beans on the homemade foil basket, rolled around (so they donít burn) until lightly charred. Then lifted off and buttered, or drizzled with a little olive oil (or balsamic vinegar) and sprinkled with sea salt.

TOMATOES: In New England, we donít see good tomatoes until August. A grill helps us deal with that. I cook the best available, wrapped in foil. Later, I whirl them with a handful of fresh basil into a smoky sauce. Sometimes I cook them down with brown sugar to make a jam for hot dogs or a dip for crackers or breadsticks. I use them as the base for my personal barbecue sauce, too.

POTATOES: Thereís nothing like the hearty flavor of potatoes on the grill. After cooking potatoes in boiling water until just barely tender (cut them in halves or quarters first), I put them beside whatever Iím grilling for a deep char. Theyíre great dolloped with sour cream or Greek yogurt. Or toss with olive oil and sea salt and ground black pepper.

And protein. Of course, burgers and hot dogs. With all the fixinís, and rolls buttered lightly toasted on the grill. A family member likes to grill whole lobsters, after a short, boiling water bath. He splits them up the center and slathers them with butter, chopped cilantro and lime juice. Then pops them on the grill for a few minutes. They never hang around long enough to fill lobster rolls.

My new favorite protein is grilled chicken salad, made with those skinless, boneless chicken breasts we gave up on a while ago in favor of tastier on-the-bone meat. But itís summertime, and I cut down on the work of separating chicken from bone any way I can. Brush the chicken with oil on both sides, then cook on the grill instead of poaching in liquid. Quicker and a whole lot less messy.

I pick up extra when theyíre on special at the supermarket. Then I grill and freeze them so Iím ready for different versions of the salad. For picnics on the beach, dinner on the porch, or a workday lunch.

BACK PORCH CHICKEN SALAD: Momís classic chicken salad recipe gets a slight makeover started on the grill. Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the dressing to give it zip. Or replace a tablespoon of mayonnaise with one of Greek yogurt to lighten it. Or do both.

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN SALAD: Substitute olive oil and lemon juice for the mayo dressing, then add halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced fresh fennel, chopped cucumbers, green or black olives, capers, maybe some of those roasted peppers and crumbled feta cheese for a Mediterranean twist. Eat from a bowl or tuck into pita bread.

CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD: Just slightly exotic, this takes on a restaurant-quality when started with grilled chicken. If you can find naan, it gets that much more exotic.

CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Many curries include peanuts. This is a peanut-free recipe to keep safe all those with allergies.
3/4 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, grilled
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 tart apples, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 to 3 tablespoons curry powder, to taste
1 cup best quality mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste

1. Soak the raisins, to plump them up, in the lime juice while preparing the salad.
2. Thinly slice the cooked chicken crosswise. Toss the chicken, celery and apples together in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the ground ginger, curry powder, mayonnaise and yogurt. Fold in the raisins with the lime juice. Toss with the chicken mixture. Chill, tightly covered with plastic wrap, for an hour to let the flavors meld together. Serve cold or at room temperature.

CHICKEN SALAD WITH MEDITERRANEAN FLAVORS
Makes 6 servings
To make the flavors stand out, serve this at room temperature.
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, grilled and cooled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
A few sprigs fresh oregano or basil, chopped
1/2 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted black or green olives, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons salted or brined capers, rinsed lightly
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1 yellow pepper, stemmed, cored, and thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup feta cheese

1. Thinly slice the grilled chicken breasts. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and lemon juice.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with feta cheese and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

ó Linda Bassett is the author of ďFrom Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.Ē Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@gmail.com. Read Lindaís blog at LindABCooks.wordpress.com. Follow Linda for quick recipes on Twitter at @Kitchencall.