The Best Veggies For Summer Grilling
Photo: Lew Robinson, Getty Images.
Even though its grilling season, one can’t eat only meat. (Okay, you could, but you really shouldn’t, for your health’s sake.) This is why nature provides vegetables, the virtues of which can’t be overstated. Vitamins, nutrients, color, and crunch are just the beginning. The diverse flavors of vegetables are even more pronounced when grilled, and most varieties, when purchased in-season, don’t need more than olive oil and a little seasoning. And If you can afford local and organic fare, all the better. Whether you’re trying to keep your trim summer figure, balance out the heaviness of a big steak, or appease the inevitable guest who won’t eat meat, these suggestions will keep your side-dish game fresh and tasty.
The Best Veggies For Summer Grilling:
Asparagus is a favorite of grill masters. To prepare, trim the bottom of the asparagus, then toss in olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste. Test a piece raw, if desired, to make sure your seasoning skills are up to par. For more control, divide asparagus into small bunches, then thread two skewers through the tops and bottoms of the asparagus (think perpendicular, not parallel). Grill on high heat for 2 minutes each side.
Corn on the Cob
Summer grilling sessions aren’t the same without corn. Corn is one of the easiest veggies to grill. After husking, wipe the corn down with a paper towel to remove silks. Place one cob in the center of a large piece of foil, top with 2 pats of butter, then salt and pepper to taste. Seal the foil around the corn; repeat with all remaining corn. Place wrapped corn on grill, heated high, for 20 – 25 minutes, turning every 2 minutes. Transfer wrapped corn to serving platter; it will remain hot until unwrapped for up to 1 hour.
The good news: these mini-cabbages are cancer-fighting powerhouses. The bad news: they have a particular odor when cooking. This is why they’re perfect candidates for the great outdoors–and the grill. Wash the sprouts and remove any unsightly leaves. Cut off the edge of the stems, then slice the sprouts in half. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, then transfer to large sheet of foil. Top with second sheet of foil and seal edges. Grill on medium-high heat for 15 – 20 minutes. Transfer to serving plate, then drizzle with balsamic dressing and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.
Portabella mushrooms are perhaps the only vegetable that can mimic meat. They have a thick tenderness that can almost trick the tongue into believing it’s eating steak. Of utmost importance when cooking mushrooms is the cleaning. Remove stems, wipe the caps with a wet towel, then use a spoon to gently scoop out the gills. Make a marinade using 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 4 cloves minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley; whisk and pour into large Ziploc bag. Submerge 4 mushrooms in marinade for 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Heat grill to high and place mushrooms cap-side down. Season with salt. Cook for 5 minutes and flip to gill-side down. If desired, top with slice of provolone or Swiss cheese and cover. Cook additional 5 minutes. Serve whole between buns with burger fixings or cut like steak and serve with salad.
Sweet potatoes are, as their name implies, sweet. But they’re also tough, so you need to pre-cook them before attempting to cut them. Poke potatoes with fork and microwave on high for 6 minutes. You don’t want them mushy, but just soft enough to slide a knife through. Cut potatoes into 1-inch wedges, then toss with canola oil, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Salt and pepper to taste. Grill on medium heat for 3 minutes on each side. Serve solo or with hummus, seasoned sour cream, or sriracha-spiked mayo.
If you’re too lazy to make a salad, grilled romaine is a quick substitute. Wash romaine and remove any limp or damaged leaves. Cut lettuce in half, then brush both sides of each half with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place lettuce flat-side down first and cook for 2 minutes; flip and cook additional 2 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and cut off hard bottoms of lettuce. Transfer to serving plate and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese. Serve with dressing if desired.