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Grilling Salads (Yes, Salads!)


Are your grills getting a workout, now that we are in the heart of grilling season?

A few weeks ago, we kicked off our summer grilling series with a coaching tip encouraging you to grill more veggies!  Today, we want to continue the series and talk about something you may not have thought much about.  Have you ever grilled a salad?  Yes, you heard right...grilled salads!

Let's get out of the bun!

 

Hopefully, you have already moved beyond just grilling hamburgers, chicken, ribs and sausages.  Don't get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with these, and we love a juicy grilled burger as much as anyone, but this is the perfect time to enjoy such a wide variety of amazing meals from the grill.

 

Trust us when we tell you...if you can roast it, you can grill it!

You know that we are huge fans of roasting vegetables.  However, in the summer - especially when the temperatures rise - we switch to cooking many of our veggies on the grill so we don't have the oven heating up the house.  Just about any vegetable that can be roasted can also be grilled, including potatoes, mushrooms, onions, peppers, fennel, eggplant, asparagus, tomatoes and more!

The possibilities are only limited by your creativity!

 

What exactly do we mean by "grill a salad?"

When it comes to grilled salads, we are really just talking about unlimited combinations of ingredients you can put together.  Especially when using fresh, in-season ingredients, the flavors and textures can be absolutely delicious.

  • Grill the toppings - try the Grilled Veggie Salad with Greek Vinaigrette, where you can grill almost all the ingredients including the eggplant, zucchini, onions and peppers (you could even throw the cherry tomatoes on the grill).  Or, grill your meat AND a few toppings, such as chicken, zucchini and peaches and transform the ingredients into the incredibly tasty Cajun Chicken Salad with Grilled Peaches.  Another great one to try is the Grilled Summer Squash and Nectarines -- the balsamic drizzle and fresh herbs give this salad mind-blowing flavor!
  • Combine grilled and raw - pairing a few grilled toppings with the freshness and crunch of raw ingredients can also make a fantastic salad.  In the Grilled Fennel Orzo Salad, the grilled fennel is perfect paired with fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes and orzo pasta.  And, grilling the corn produces an incredible charred smoky flavor when combined with the red onion, cherry tomatoes, jalapeño, and green onions in the Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad (of course, the honey lime dressing helps send the flavor over the top)!
  • Grill the greens!  Most of us think of salads with raw greens, but throwing your greens on the grill - especially sturdier greens like kale, romaine and cabbage - gives them a hint of smoke and a little char.  Grill the romaine, red onion and avocado in the Grilled Romaine Salad with Jalapeño Lime Vinaigrette, or grill your cabbage (both red and green!) in the Grilled Cabbage Salad.  Kale is also excellent on the grill...the Grilled Kale Salad is a great one to try!  Here are a few tips that might help when it comes to grilling your greens:

 

 

Cabbage:  Cut into wedges, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then grill until the edges are blackened and the cabbage begins to soften (typically 4-6 minutes per side).

Romaine:  Make sure your greens are nice and dry.  Cut in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Grill cut side down for 1-3 minutes, until you see grill marks and the leaves are slightly charred.  If desired, you can flip them over and cook another 1-2 minutes.

Kale:  In our experience, you can grill both Tuscan (or lacinato or dinosaur) kale and curly kale.  If you grill the curly kale a couple extra minutes, it actually turns into crispy kale chips!  It is personal preference whether to remove the stems before grilling.  You will find that some of stems actually get pretty tender on the grill.  Brush or spray the leaves with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and grill over medium or indirect heat for 4-6 minutes (flipping if desired) until the leaves are bright green and slightly charred.  You can tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces after removing them from the grill.

 

A few more ideas to consider for your grilled summer salads:

 

  • Add a protein!  Grill chicken or steak, or add beans such as chickpeas, black beans or cannellini beans.
  • Add whole grains!  Adding cooked pasta, orzo, rice, quinoa or even croutons made with your favorite whole grain bread makes a filling salad.  Have you tried a Panzanella Salad yet?  We have several recipe ideas and a video for you to learn more.
  • Don't forget the dressing!  Bottled dressings can be convenient, but it is super easy to whip up a simple homemade dressing that will add amazing flavor to your salads!

 

 

So, this summer, why not take advantage of all that incredible fresh in-season produce and consider taking your grilling to the next level?!  Try putting something on the grill that you have never tried grilling before!  If you have never grilled an avocado, simply cut it in half, remove the pit, spray the cut side with olive oil and grill it cut side down for about 5 minutes.  The result?  A creamy and absolutely delicious topping for salads, burgers, tacos and so much more -- you won't regret it!

 

We want you to stay inspired all summer long -- here are more excellent ideas to try:

Grilled Potato Salad with Chimichurri Dressing

Herbed Orzo Salad with Grilled Zucchini

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Grilled Steak Panzanella Salad

Southwest Wedge Salad

 

What have we not thought of when it comes to grilling salads?  

Please share your ideas and successes with us!

 

 

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