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ext time you throw some steaks and burgers on the grill, add some grilled fruits and veggies to your next cookout menu. Grilling fruit brings out its natural sweetness and the flavor of grilled veggies is greatly enhanced when they are lightly charred.
Almost any fruit can be cooked on the grill. Apples, pears and pineapple are easier to grill than softer fruits such as peaches, plums and watermelon, which require more attention to prevent overcooking. They only need to be heated, not cooked.
When vegetables are grilled, their flavor is intensified. The sugars contained in vegetables become more condensed, which increases their sweetness and flavor. Some vegetables, such as squash, need to be precooked before they are grilled.
Fruit Grilling Tips
1) Cut the fruit into pieces, but large enough so they do not fall through the grates.
2) Brush fruit with butter or oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill grate. Spraying a non-stick cooking spray on the grate before heating grill will also keep foods from sticking.
3) Use skewers or a grill basket for smaller chunks of fruit. If using bamboo skewers, soak them for 30 minutes or so before using to prevent them from burning up on the grill.
Vegetable Grilling Tips
1) All vegetables should be grilled over medium heat (350 degrees). They should have grill marks and be tender when pierced with a fork.
2) Soak vegetables in cold water before cooking to prevent them from drying out on the grill.
3) Cut your vegetables into uniform size pieces. This will allow them to cook more evenly. The larger and thicker the pieces, the longer the grilling time.
4) Brush your favorite oil or butter on the vegetables before placing on the grill to prevent them from sticking.
Grilled Eggplant, Squash, Zucchini and Tomatoes
Grilled veggies are “stacked” on a plate and then drizzled with a fresh basil vinaigrette.
2 medium eggplants
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium zucchini
2 medium tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
2-1⁄2 Tbsps. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup diced red bell pepper
Slice eggplants into 1⁄4-inch thick rounds; sprinkle with salt and layer in a colander. Set aside to drain for about 20 minutes. Once drained, rinse off salt from eggplant.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Slice squash and zucchini into 1⁄4-inch rounds and slice tomatoes into 1⁄2-inch slices. Lightly brush all vegetables with olive oil, then grill, turning once, until tender and slightly charred; about 30 seconds per side for tomatoes, 2-3 minutes per side for eggplant, squash and zucchini.
Whisk together 1⁄2 cup olive oil, vinegar, parsley, and basil in a mixing bowl; season with salt and pepper.
To serve, place one slice eggplant on each plate and then stack a slice of tomato on top, followed by another slice of eggplant, squash and zucchini. Drizzle with basil vinaigrette and top with diced red pepper. Makes 8 servings.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
This smoky-flavored corn can is slathered with mayonnaise, grated cheese and Chile powder for a flavorful side to any meal.
6 ears fresh sweet corn, in the husk
3 Tbsps. butter, melted
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. Chile powder
Place unhusked corn in a large, deep bowl or bucket and cover with cold water. Soak corn for 30 minutes and then drain (use a weighted plate to help keep the corn submerged). Meanwhile, preheat your grill to medium-high (400-425 degrees).
Grill corn, turning frequently, until outer leaves are blackened, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and when cool enough to handle, peel off husks and remove silk.
Brush peeled corn with butter, return to grill, and cook, turning frequently, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Spread each ear with some mayonnaise, roll in cheese, and sprinkle with Chile powder. Makes 6 servings.
Grilled Watermelon with Feta, Mint and Lime
Grilled watermelon is juicy and crunchy on the inside and smoky and caramelized on the outside. Drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar and then top with feta cheese, lime and fresh mint!
8 slices of seedless watermelon (about 2x4-inches in size)
2 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 fresh limes, sliced
Feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh arugula or watercress
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Add balsamic vinegar to a small pan and cook over low heat until reduced by at least half. Should be nice and thick.
Slice the watermelon and remove rind; then cut melon into small squares or rectangles, about 2x4-inches each. Pat the melon slices dry with a paper towel. Drizzle each piece with olive oil and place them on the grill. Grill about 1-2 minutes, then flip over and grill the other side.
Place greens on each plate and top with 2 pieces of watermelon. Drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar. Top with the feta, lime slices and fresh mint leaves. Makes 4 servings.
Caramelized Oranges with Rosemary
The burned-orange flavor and aroma is enhanced with the fresh smell of rosemary.
4 oranges, halved, peeled, pith removed
2 Tbsps. fresh rosemary
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup thick Greek yogurt.
Place oranges, cut-side up, on a plate and sprinkle rosemary over the top, pressing into surface of oranges. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.
On the grill or stovetop, place a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat (a drop of water should sizzle on the surface when it’s ready). Spread remaining sugar in the skillet and when it begins to caramelize, place oranges, cut-side down, on the sugar. Cook about 3-4 minutes, not moving the oranges, so cut side browns nicely and oranges soften.
To serve, place two orange halves in bowl with 1/4 cup Greek yogurt. Drizzle each with burnt sugar juices from the skillet. Makes 4 servings.
Grilled Chicken with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Any of these tasty grilled vegetables would pair well with some juicy grilled chicken. This version can also be done in the oven, if you prefer. Just place a rack on a cookie sheet and place the chicken on the rack.
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsps. Dijon mustard
4 boneless chicken breasts, (about 1/4-inch thick)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Coat the grill with cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium heat (350-400 degrees). If using an oven, preheat to 425 degrees.
Combine yogurt and mustard in a shallow dish and blend, using a whisk. Add chicken to the yogurt mixture and coat well; set aside
In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add panko crumbs and pecans to the pan and toast for 2-3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Combine panko and pecans with grated cheese and minced rosemary in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken from yogurt mixture and discard mixture. Dredge chicken in panko mixture.
If using an oven, arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet and coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on the grill (or rack). Cook for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until chicken is done. Served over a bed of baby romaine with honey mustard dressing. Makes 4 servings.