With the extra time at home the past few weeks, grilling season may have started early this year for many of us. And, let's face it, for some, grilling season never ends! But as the weather warms up and we carefully scale back our physical distancing, we will be in the heart of grilling season over the next few months!
Most of the information out there on grilling covers topics like gas vs. charcoal, direct vs. indirect heat, cleaning the grill, oiling the grates, marinating your meat and other grilling fundamentals.
These are all important and useful topics, but we want to provide a little different perspective over the next few months to help inspire everyone to use your grills to make some over-the-top, delicious…and healthy…meals!
So, get your taste buds ready!
May: Grilling vegetables!
June: Grilling salads (yes, salads)!
July: Grilling fruits and desserts!
August: Grilling pizzas!
Grilling is truly one of the best joys of summer (and spring and fall!). It’s an opportunity to savor the outdoors, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy some absolutely delicious food! Most of us have all mastered burgers, hot dogs and even the beer-can chicken, but there is so much more. We challenge you to always grill meat with at least 1-2 different vegetables -- the only thing holding you back is your creativity!
Grill More Veggies!
Just a few ideas include mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, scallions, cabbage, eggplant, okra, artichokes and fennel. And it’s so simple. Just brush with olive oil, salt and pepper (and other seasonings if desired) and grill until tender. The time will vary depending on the vegetable, how hot your grill is and your personal preferences for taste and texture. You can use these as starting points, and then adjust to your preferences:
- Asparagus, green onions and tomatoes (4-6 minutes)
- Summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms (6-8 minutes)
- Peppers, onions. potatoes (8-10 minutes)
- Corn-on-the cob (15-20 minutes...it may cook faster if cooked out of husk and directly on the grates)
- Whole beets (30-45 minutes)
We prefer to cut our veggies into large slices so they have a large surface area and can be placed directly on the grill. For example, we typically slice zucchini and summer squash length-wise and we cut eggplant and onions into large slices that won't fall through the grates. We leave asparagus, green onions, jalapenos and mini bell peppers whole. Then, all these veggies can be cut into bite-size pieces after they are done cooking.
If you are grilling smaller pieces (like sliced mushrooms or sliced beets), you can use a grilling basket or tray to keep them from falling through the grates. You can also wrap them up in a foil packet and flip the packet a couple times while grilling.
Grilled veggies are delicious straight off the grill, but there are SO MANY ways to take them to another level that will leave you craving them again the next day!
- Turn those grilled veggies into a meal! A Grilled Veggie Sandwich is amazing! Grill some red onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant and tomato. During the last two minutes, place your bread on the grill (focaccia is a great choice). Brush the veggies with balsamic vinegar, top with a dried basil / oregano / thyme mixture and crumbled goat cheese, and your taste buds will be screaming for more!
- Add pizzazz to your pasta! Grilled veggies are also incredibly delicious combined with seafood and pasta. Grill your vegetables and fish (such as cod), and then put them together with your favorite cooked pasta. Add some olive oil and white balsamic vinegar and toss. Incorporate fresh parsley or other fresh herbs and the result? A fantastic Cod and Pasta Ratatouille!
- Try something new! Grilled Turnips will shock and amaze you! We know you are thinking…turnips? Yes! This will blow your mind and change your perception, as the grill brings out the sweetness you never knew they had. Simply slice the turnips and brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on both sides until they are browned. You can even top them with a simple garlic sauce by combining olive oil and a few diced garlic cloves in a skillet, cook until the garlic is slightly browned, then remove from the heat, add parsley and black pepper. Top with a little lemon zest - YUM!
Ever grilled an avocado? Yes, we know avocadoes are botanically a fruit, but many think of avocadoes as vegetables in cooking world. If you have ever grilled them, you know the result is a super-creamy texture! An easy way to try this is to grill them for the Tropical Salmon Sandwich!
- Marinades and toppings! Just like meat, you can marinate veggies to amp up the flavor even more. Try soaking your potatoes in your favorite beer for the Beer-Marinated Rosemary Potatoes, and make sure to try the Citrus Grilled Chicken or Shrimp. While olive oil, salt and pepper will give you great results, keep in mind, the right toppings can take your masterpieces to a whole new level! Fresh herbs are a great addition to any dish...basil, cilantro, mint, parsley and rosemary are fantastic choices. Also, dressings and drizzles can add mind-blowing flavor! Try basil pesto, balsamic reduction (simply heat your balsamic to slightly thicken it and concentrate the flavor), chimichurri sauce, cilantro vinaigrette or a tzatziki sauce. Let your imagination go wild!
Local, in-season ingredients!
Marinades and toppings can kick your meals up a notch, and using fresh, in-season ingredients from your garden or a local farm will do the same! As we always say, check out your local farmers’ markets for vegetables which have been harvested within the last 24-48 hours!
Now that is fresh flavor!
Get those veggies on your grill, and please tell us about your successes!