Right up there with apple pie and baseball, cookouts are definitely one of America’s favorite summer pastimes. We think it’s not just the scrumptious fare that makes cookouts so great; it’s the smell of lit charcoal and lighter fluid, the carefree attitude of cooking out in the open air, and the simple joy of washing your barbecue-sauce smeared hands in a hose rather than in a kitchen sink. All of these things make summer grilling, in a word, awesome.
Now despite all the many joys of outdoor grilling, of course we are not going to deny that devouring the food is the very best part. And grilling is a wonderful opportunity to use some of the fresh veggies and fruits from your garden. Fresh home-grown veggies are wonderful straight from the garden, but when you grill them over an open flame, their flavor is magnified, and suddenly some simple garden fresh produce becomes a true treat.
Basic guidelines for grilling vegetables from your garden
- Onions- Cut them into 1/2 inch slices, and cook for 10-12 minutes.
- Bell Peppers- Cut them into halves or quarters, and grill them for 6-8 minutes.
- Eggplant- Cut them into 1/2 inch slices, and cook them for 8-10 minutes.
- Asparagus- Leave them whole, and cook them for 6-8 minutes.
- Corn-Peel back the husks to remove the corn silk, then replace the husks. Pre-soak them in water for one hour to prevent them from charring. Cook them for 20-25 minutes.
- Summer Squash and Zucchini- Cut into 1/2 inch slices, and cook them for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Cherry Tomatoes- Pierce the skins and cook them whole for 2-4 minutes.
We know what you’re thinking right now. Despite the fact that you have all of these wonderful grilled veggies straight from your home garden, you still have a friend/spouse/child who will insist on reaching for a brat or hamburger. You’ll need to entice this person a bit in order to get him or her to reach for something fresher and healthier instead. No problem! We’ve got a terrific marinade recipe that will pump up the flavor of your veggies and make anyone’s mouth water.
Whisk together 1/4 cup of melted margarine or butter, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 finely chopped shallots, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of grated lemon peel, and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme. You can add salt and pepper to taste. Brush both sides of your veggies with this marinade before grilling them. Keep any of the remaining sauce warm in order to serve it with your veggies. If you’d like, you can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in a sealed container in your fridge.
Hints for Grilling Veggies:
- If you would like to try grilling vegetables that are too small to sit on your grill, try using either a grill basket, or a foil packet. For a simple foil packet recipe, try cutting up Brussels sprouts, pearl onions, carrots, green beans, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes. Place them all on a large piece of foil and season them with salt and pepper. Lift the edges and add one tablespoon of water, or one large ice cube. Bring the sides of the foil up so that they meet, and fold them over twice. (The sealed packet will look kind of like an envelope.) Grill this on the hottest part of the grill for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Full-size tomatoes are great for grilling, too. Just cut them in half and cook them directly on your grill.
- Any time you place a fruit or veggie directly on your grill rack, first brush them with a little bit of olive oil or spray them with cooking spray to keep them from sticking.
Image source: Fresh From Florida