Grilling Summer Vegetables

Next time you fire up the grill think about grilling some fresh vegetables to complement your burgers or chicken. Grilling vegetables really intensifies their flavor and provides more opportunities to make sure you are eating your daily vegetable quota.

Always start with a clean grill, heated to medium heat. Wash vegetables and cut into uniform pieces to ensure even grilling and doneness. Most vegetables take 15-20 minutes to grill, depending on the vegetable and your preference for tenderness. Dense vegetables such as carrots and potatoes will take longer to cook than more tender vegetables like mushrooms or peppers. Steam or microwave dense vegetables for 5-8 minutes prior to grilling. Otherwise, these vegetables may end up charred on the outside but not done inside. To keep vegetables from sticking to the grill spray lightly with vegetable spray, but never spray directly onto a lit grill.

Experiment with different grilling methods and vegetables. Try threading peppers, mushrooms, onions, and cherry tomatoes on to metal or wooden skewers. Place summer squash planks, corn on the cob, or other larger pieces of vegetables directly on the grill. A grilling basket is great for grilling a variety of sliced vegetables, particularly smaller vegetable slices that may fall through the grill into the ashes. If you do not have a grilling basket just make a packet out of aluminum foil or use a disposable aluminum pan. Just remember to keep the vegetable slices a uniform size for even cooking. Vary the flavor by brushing with olive oil and sprinkling with fresh or dried herbs, ground pepper, and a pinch of salt. It is all a matter of taste and there is no right or wrong when using herbs for flavor enhancers.

Last, but not least, do not forget about food safety when grilling. Do not use the same marinate that was used to marinate raw meat, poultry, or fish. Avoid cross- contaminating foods by placing vegetables on the same cutting board or plate as raw meat, poultry or fish. Once done, always place food on a clean plate when removing from the grill.

Try this delicious recipe at your next cookout:

Grilled Squash, Peppers and Onion

Makes 6 Servings

2 small yellow squash, sliced in planks

2 small zucchini squash, sliced in planks

6 mini sweet red and yellow peppers

1 medium onion, sliced in chunks

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

½ teaspoon dried parsley

Fresh ground pepper

Pinch of salt

  1. Heat grill to medium heat.
  2. Wash and slice vegetables as directed.
  3. Mix olive oil and seasonings together and place in a plastic storage bag.
  4. Add vegetables and shake until well coated.
  5. Drain vegetables.
  6. Place vegetables directly on medium-hot grill.
  7. Turn vegetables after 5-7 minutes. Continue to monitor and turn until vegetables are fork tender and start turning a golden color, but are not charred.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 90 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrates, 150 mg sodium, 1 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber