Thanks to days of hot sun interspersed with drenching Midwestern storms, the guerilla urban garden is now a jungle bursting at the seams. With all of summer’s bounty at our fingertips, what better way to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables than to take your harvest to the grill.
Grilled vegetables are a taste treat that takes minutes to prepare. The outdoor grill is working overtime during summer barbecues anyway. Make room for the veggies!
The beauty of grilled vegetables is that they can be consumed either hot or cold, and just about any vegetable is a candidate. Some serve grilled vegetables with cucumber, ranch dressing, or sour cream sauces, but I prefer my grilled vegetables naked. Grilling seals in the juices and makes the flavors pop; in my opinion, adding dressing masks the taste.
Excellent vegetable candidates include asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, cauliflower, portobello mushrooms, tomatoes (both red and green), garlic and fennel. The bane of some gardens – zucchini – is excellent grilled. Grilling hot peppers lessens the heat and strenghtens the flavors while grilling sweet peppers makes them sweeter.
Corn can be grilled without husks, which leaves nice char marks, but the best preparation is inside the husks. Soak unhusked corn for a few hours in a bath of salt water before placing on grill. Leaving the husks on provides an individual sauna for each ear, steaming them to deliciousness. It will take a little longer to cook corn in husks, approximately 15 minutes.
Preparation for most grilled veggies is ridiculously easy. Clean vegetables, slice, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper. Grill time will depend on the vegetable and how thick it is. Potatoes and artichokes should be par-boiled before grilling. Sturdy asparagus will take longer than thin spears. Delicate zucchini takes only a couple of minutes, as do peppers. Onions should be sliced, then skewered with bamboo or metal so that the cooked onion isn’t lost to the coals. If you are concerned about losing your veggies through the grates, specialty holders can be employed. Burger baskets do a great job of keeping your food from turning into charcoal.
In addition to vegetables, many fruits can be grilled. Grilling fruit caramelizes the natural sugar. Pineapple, peaches, and pears are excellent grilled. When grilling fruit, make sure the grates are spotlessly clean and as hot as can be. Prepare fruits by slicing in half and pitting. I do not use oil, but a little Pam on the grates. Pineapple can be sliced into one to two inch thick slices. Grilled fruit is great alone, or can dress up a dish of vanilla ice cream.
Push your meat products aside and grill (veggies), baby, grill.