Have you mastered grilling meats? Got your food handling and preparation up to par? Are you looking for a new challenge, or maybe for a way to cook your entire dinner on the grill without heating up the kitchen? It’s time to try putting some vegetables and fruits on the grill to round out your meal!
Grilling vegetables and fruits isn’t as hard as it sounds. It does take a little practice, and maybe a few different tools, but it’s pretty easy to master these techniques.
Whatever your choice of side dishes, give them a good seasoning before you toss them on the grill. Brush vegetables and fruits with a light coating of olive oil to keep them from sticking to the grill during cooking. Give veggies a toss with some salt and pepper or another seasoning mix to punch up their flavor. Coat fruits with a little bit of sugar or cinnamon to bring out their natural flavor.
Use a Grill Basket
Grill baskets can be great for grilling smaller vegetables and fruits like asparagus, onion slices, cherry tomatoes, or zucchini slices. These baskets sit right on top of the grill grate, and hold your smaller items together.
Use Aluminum Foil
Wrapping vegetables that need longer to cook, like potatoes or sweet potatoes, in an aluminum foil packet with olive oil and seasonings is an easy way to cook on the grill. These will often take longer to cook than the steak, burgers, or chicken you’re having for your main attraction, so put your potatoes on the grill first.
Skewers are a great way to hold onto smaller chunks of vegetables or fruits to make sure they don’t fall between the grates. Use your imagination here – try chunks of bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion wedges, summer squash chunks, or any other fresh vegetable. Skewer pineapple chunks and grapes to hold them together.
Cook Right on the Grill
Some vegetables and fruits can go directly on the grill grate. Try this with zucchini or summer squash spears, corn on the cob, thick pineapple slices, or halved peaches or apples.
Use Indirect Heat
Most vegetables and fruits will cook faster than your meats (except potatoes). Use half of your grill for cooking your meats, and keep the other half on a low heat setting to cook your side dishes. Or, if your grill has one, use the upper rack for the veggies and fruits. Need the whole grill for the meat? Finish cooking the main dish, let the grill cool a little bit (and give it a good scrape to clean it), and then cook the veggies and fruits while the meat is resting. Some vegetables, and especially some fruits, will get very soft and mushy if they are overcooked. When in doubt, take them off the grill a little earlier than you think, and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. The residual heat will finish the cooking process, and you won’t have over-cooked side dishes to go with your perfectly cooked main dish.
Do you already use your grill for vegetables and fruits? What is your favorite?