Watch the heat when grilling vegetables to avoid lumps of carbon

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

I’ve collected a number of grilled recipes over the years, dividing them into entrees, side dishes and dessert categories. Outdoor grilling isn’t just for steaks, hamburgers or hot dogs. Try grilling combinations of different vegetables or even fruits.

Many vegetables do really well on a grill, but try to avoid those with a high water content, like cucumbers, celery or greens. Some of the best grilling vegetables are asparagus, eggplant, onions, a variety of peppers and even cabbage.


Tips for Grilling Vegetables

Grilling vegetables is a fairly easy task. Just remember to cut the vegetables into pieces that will cook evenly and quickly. Before grilling vegetables, soak them in cold water for about a half hour or so to keep them from drying out. Before grilling, brush the vegetables lightly with oil to prevent sticking. Remember not to over-cook them. For those who want to try grilling smaller vegetables, I would recommend using a grilling basket to keep them from dropping through the grates.

Vegetables are great when combined with chicken, beef, lamb or pork for kabobs. If you have a fear of your veggies falling through the grate, just put them on a spear and make a vegetable kabob. Or, my favorite, just wrap the veggies in some foil, add a little oil and/or balsamic vinegar, and plop them on the grill for about 20 minutes at medium heat. Cooking in foil, though, will lessen the smoky flavor that is part of the appeal of grilling.

Cooking times may vary according to your choice of vegetable, so be sure to keep a close watch on them, as no one likes eating charred lumps of carbon.


Grilled Potatoes, Onions and Red Peppers

This is one of my favorites, especially with pork. I use sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, red bell peppers, and onions and top it with balsamic vinegar and crumbled bacon.

1 large orange sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large onion, cut into thin wedges

1 cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

2 Tbsps. butter, softened

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

4 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled

Pre-heat grill to medium heat. Spread potatoes, onions and red pepper onto a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil; dot top of vegetables with small pieces of softened butter. Top with another piece of foil and seal edges by folding over twice. Place foil packet onto grill. Grill until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Carefully open packet; spoon vegetables into serving bowl. Add balsamic vinegar and crumbled bacon; gently toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes six servings.


Grilled Vegetables with Lemon-Basil Sauce

2 cups (16 oz.) sweet corn, cut from cob

1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips

1 small green pepper, cut into strips

1 small onion, sliced

8 cherry tomatoes cut in halves

1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1/4 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. lemon pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

4 tsps. butter or margarine

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Place vegetables on two 12-by-12 inch sheets of aluminum foil. Dot with 2 teaspoons of butter on each sheet. Place another sheet of foil on top of each, bring ends of foil together and twist to seal. Grill both packets over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings.


Grilled Cabbage with Bacon and Onion

1 head cabbage, diced

1 stick butter, softened

1 medium onion, diced

5 slices bacon, diced

Crushed red pepper

Place all above ingredients in a tinfoil pan. Sprinkle with red pepper. Cover with tinfoil. Cook on grill on medium heat until done (about 40 to 60 minutes).


Grilled Asparagus and Tomatoes with Balsamic Vinaigrette

12 oz. asparagus, trimmed

6 ripe tomatoes, halved

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinaigrette (see recipe)

Heat grill pan over medium high heat. In a large bowl, toss asparagus and tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill asparagus and tomatoes, separately, until tender but not falling apart. Serve grilled vegetables drizzled with vinaigrette.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings.


Grilled Buttery Corn

Fresh corn is shucked, placed on squares of aluminum foil and drizzled with a spicy, buttery concoction of mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

1/3-cup butter

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. hot sauce

6 ears fresh corn

Preheat grill for medium heat. In a small saucepan, melt butter or margarine. Stir in dry mustard, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Place each ear of corn on individual pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drizzle with butter mixture. Wrap loosely, leaving space for the expansion of steam and seal. Grill over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until corn is tender. Carefully unwrap foil and serve. Makes six servings.


Grilled Mexican Onions

6 large slices onion, cut 1/2-inch thick

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. Mexican grill rub

Lightly brush both sides of onion slices with olive oil; sprinkle each side with 1/4 tsp. Mexican grill rub. Grill over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes or until tender, turning once. Makes six servings.