Summer grilling season shouldn’t just begin with burgers and end with steaks. This is high season for nature’s bounty of fruits and vegetables, which can benefit from an open fire just as much as meaty entrées.
A grill’s high heat caramelizes the sugars in both fruits and vegetables, intensifying sweetness, and gives them a subtle smokey flavor. (Plus, the grill marks add pizazz.) So, consider giving fruits and veggies a turn on the grill to enrich their taste and presentation at your next cookout.
If you’re hungry for some easy-grilling ideas, here are some popular picks.
Grilled Vegetable Favorites
There are two methods for grilling veggies: directly on the grill and indirectly in a grill pan.
Soft, moist vegetables, along with leafy and sliced veggies, are better candidates to place directly on the grill. Cut larger veggies into smaller pieces, so more surface area touches the grill. Marinating veggies or coating with cooking oil will help to keep them from sticking to the grates.
Firm or dense veggies (such as potatoes) that take more time to cook will do better cooking indirectly in a grill pan or foil pan. If preferred, you can use a grill pan for any veggies for a slower method of grilling.
Here are some favorites for summer grilling:
• Corn: You can grill it while still in the husk, which keeps in the moisture and results in a juicier ear. A second option is to remove the husk and silk but then wrap it in foil, perhaps adding butter or salt before wrapping. You can also shuck the corn and cook it directly on the grill. Our Creamy Parmesan Lime Grilled Corn recipe gives a spicy spin on classic corn-on-the-cob.
• Broccoli: Simply cut into florets and cook over direct heat. Brushing with olive oil or butter will get it ready; it should be grilled until browned and tender. Our Grilled Broccoli recipe benefits from a tasty garlic Dijon sauce.
• Zucchini: Also usually cooked over direct heat. Cut in half lengthwise. Grilled Zucchini & Tomato Hummus Wraps make a perfect light lunch or quick dinner.
• Lettuce: Heads of sturdy lettuces like romaine and iceberg should be cut lengthwise and oiled before placing on the grill. They’ll cook quickly, so you’ll want to remove as soon as the outer leaves are singed. Our Mexican-inspired Grilled Salad builds on a base of romaine.
• Vegetable Kabobs: Bring it all together with a recipe for your favorite veggies.
Ideal Fruits to Grill
Grill fruit that’s a little on the less-ripe side; being slightly firm helps it hold up on the grill. Cut the fruit into large chunks to keep it from falling through the grates. Grill fruit flesh-side down directly on the grill, helping to caramelize the sugars.
Heat the grill to medium-high. Adding a non-toxic cooking spray to the grates – or olive or avocado oil – will keep the fruit from sticking.
Here are favorite fruits to fire up this summer:
• Pineapple: This stellar burger topper is best grilled in larger cubes or slices. For extra sweetness, lightly coat with brown sugar before grilling. Our Grilled Pineapple and Poblano Guacamole is a summery update to a favorite dip.
• Mango: These should also be cut into cubes or slices. Mango cubes build the base of a delicious Grilled Strawberry Mango Shortcake dessert.
• Peaches: Split a peach and remove the pit before grilling. Then slice to put into a salad or to pair with ice cream, or make it an entrée with our Grilled Peach Pizza recipe.
• Watermelon: Cut into thick cubes, and heat until grill marks are defined. Watermelon tastes great with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette or sprinkle of feta cheese. It’s also the star of our Grilled Sesame Ginger Watermelon Steak Salad recipe.
• Fruit Skewers: Use our recipe to grill your favorite fruits together.