As the sun shines brighter and the scent of charcoal fills the air, it's time to fire up those grills and embrace the grilling season. In this blog, we'll dive into the wonderful world of grilling and BBQ-friendly produce, adding a burst of vibrant flavors and healthy options to your outdoor cooking adventures. So grab your tongs and let's get started!
Vegetables can be transformed into smoky, caramelized masterpieces that elevate any BBQ spread. Here are just a few:
Corn – Grilled corn on the cob is a classic BBQ favorite. Peel back the husks, remove the silk, and brush the corn with melted butter or olive oil. Grill over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the kernels are tender and lightly charred. Sprinkle with salt, squeeze some lime juice, and sprinkle with chopped herbs for a burst of freshness. Make sure to brush with (or dip in) your favorite barbecue sauce!
Bell Peppers – Vibrant bell peppers are perfect for grilling. Cut them into thick slices or halved and deseeded. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until tender and slightly charred. They can be enjoyed as a side dish, tossed into salads, or stuffed with delicious fillings like cheese or grilled vegetables.
Zucchini and Eggplant – These versatile veggies love the grill! Slice them lengthwise into planks or rounds, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. Grill until tender and marked with those beautiful grill lines. They can be enjoyed as a side dish, added to sandwiches and wraps, or used as a base for grilled vegetable stacks.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes can be deliciously grilled, enhancing their natural flavors and creating a smoky and slightly sweet taste. Grilling tomatoes adds depth to their profile, making them a versatile ingredient for various dishes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, herbs and spices like basil, oregano, garlic and vinegar. Grill tomato slices for 2-3 minutes per side.
Fruits add a tantalizing twist to your grilling repertoire, providing a delightful combination of sweetness and smokiness. Here are some fruits that are grill-friendly:
Watermelon – Yes, you read that right! Grilled watermelon is a surprising delight. Cut thick slices or wedges of watermelon and grill them briefly on each side until grill marks form. The heat intensifies the sweetness and adds a smoky flavor. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and some fresh mint for an unexpected summer sensation.
Honeydew Melon and Cantaloupe – Like watermelon, grilled honeydew melon and cantaloupe can add a surprising twist to summer grilling, offering a smoky and slightly caramelized flavor. Add a dash of ground cinnamon or a sprinkle of brown sugar!
Peaches – Juicy, ripe peaches take on an irresistible char when grilled. Cut them in half, remove the pit, and place them face-down on the grill. Let them cook for a few minutes until they develop those beautiful grill marks. Enjoy them as a side dish, in salads, or as a topping for ice cream or yogurt.
Berries – Berries are delicate and small, so they're difficult to grill directly. However, they can be placed on skewers, brushed with a bit of oil or melted butter, and grilled over medium heat for a few minutes. Or add a mixture of berries (blueberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries) in the center of a sheet of foil, sprinkle with a touch of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, fold the foil tightly to seal and ensure that no juices leak out, place package on grill over medium heat, and cook for 5-8 minutes. Grilled berries are delightful over ice cream!
Bananas – Grilling brings out the sweetness of the banana, and gives it a bit of a caramel flavor. Use grilled bananas on top of ice cream with caramel and chocolate sauce!
Pineapple – Grilling pineapple brings out its natural sugars and creates a caramelized exterior. Slice it into rings or chunks, brush with a touch of honey or lime juice, and grill for a few minutes on each side. The result? A tropical treat that's perfect for snacking, adding to burgers or pizza, or serving alongside grilled meats.
Now that you're all fired up to start grilling fruits and veggies, here are a few essential tips to ensure grilling success:
Preheat your grill – Give your grill enough time to heat up properly before adding the produce. This helps achieve those beautiful grill marks and prevents sticking.
Oil it up – Brush the fruits and vegetables with a thin layer of oil or melted butter before grilling. This helps prevent sticking and enhances the caramelization process.
Use the right heat – Different fruits and vegetables require different heat levels. High heat is great for quickly charring and caramelizing fruits like pineapple and watermelon. Medium heat works well for most veggies, allowing them to cook through while developing a nice char.
Don't overcrowd the grill – Leave enough space between the fruits and veggies on the grill to ensure even cooking. Overcrowding can lead to steaming rather than grilling, resulting in less desirable texture and flavor.
Keep an eye on them – Fruits and vegetables can cook quickly on the grill, so keep a close watch. Flip them as needed to achieve an even cook, and remove them from the grill once they're tender and have those beautiful grill marks.
Grilled fruits and vegetables open up a world of culinary possibilities. Here are a few ideas to inspire your BBQ creativity:
Grilled fruit skewers – Thread chunks of grilled peaches, watermelon and pineapples onto skewers for a colorful and refreshing treat. Or for refreshing melon skewers, thread chunks of watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe. Serve with yogurt dip drizzled with honey.
Grilled veggie kebabs – Mix and match your favorite grilled veggies on skewers, alternating with cubes of marinated tofu or halloumi cheese for a satisfying vegetarian option.
Grilled vegetable tacos – Fill charred bell peppers, zucchini, and corn tortillas with your favorite toppings like salsa, avocado, and cilantro for a flavorful vegetarian taco feast.
Grilled fruit salads – Combine grilled fruits with fresh greens, goat cheese, toasted nuts, and a tangy vinaigrette for a light and vibrant summer salad.
Grilled vegetable pizzas – Top a grilled crust with grilled veggies, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a smoky twist on a classic favorite.
Grilled fruits and veggies are good enough to eat just by themselves. So enjoy them right off the grill (after they cool down, of course!)
Grilling and barbecues are not just about meat anymore! The world of outdoor cooking is filled with an abundance of fruits and vegetables that are ready to be transformed into grilled masterpieces. From the sweetness of grilled fruit to the smoky perfection of grilled veggies, the possibilities are endless.
So, the next time you fire up the grill, don't forget to invite fruits and veggies to the party. Experiment with different flavors, combinations, and cooking techniques to create mouthwatering dishes that will impress your guests and make your summer gatherings unforgettable. Embrace the colorful world of grilled produce, and let the sizzle and smoky aromas elevate your outdoor cooking game to new heights. Happy grilling!