Let’s hear it for Mark Bittman, food writer extraordinaire and cookbook hero to all! The latest release in his How To Cook Everything series focuses squarely on all things barbecue. From soups and salads to elegant, hearty main courses and even dessert, this is the book to pick up if you’re looking to expand your grilling repertoire. 

Elegant and unexpected, these luxe little morsels will have guests singing your praises. And you’ll have time to bask in the spotlight since you made most of it before they arrived. Be sure to cook the polenta to the thickness described in the recipe; otherwise it will never firm up enough for you to slice and grill it.

Polenta Squares with Dilled Sour Cream and Smoked Salmon

Substitute chopped fresh dill for the chives and smoked salmon (lox) for the salmon roe; one 4-ounce package should be enough. Top the sour cream with a small piece of salmon. If your store carries smoked salmon trimmings, this is the perfect use for it.

Rosemary Polenta Squares with Orange Crème Fraîche and Olives

Replace the sour cream with crème fraîche, and the lemon with orange zest and juice. In Step 1, add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary. In Step 5, top the crème fraîche mixture with chopped pitted kalamata olives.

Polenta Squares with Dried Tomato–Basil Goat Cheese and Chorizo

Omit the sour cream, chives, and lemon. Mash 8 ounces fresh goat cheese with ¼ cup each chopped oil-packed dried tomatoes and chopped fresh basil. In Step 5, spread the mixture on each polenta square and top with a very thin slice of Spanish chorizo (alternatively, chop about 4 ounces chorizo and sprinkle it over the top).

Reprinted with permission from How To Grill Everything