The Gateway Farmers Market is packed with fresh vegetables that would be great on the grill. If you haven't given grilled vegetables a try, you should. It brings out a unique flavor in your food, makes meal prep easy and clean up a breeze. Not to mention doesn't heat up the house.
Most vegetables grill well, except for cucumbers, celery, lettuce and most leafy greens that have too high of a water content to be successful on the grill. Some good choices you will find at the market include onions, potatoes, corn, cabbage, summer squash, tomatoes and even peppers.
Start with a clean grill and wash the vegetables well. If they have thick skin, rub under running water with a vegetable brush. If they are a root vegetable, you might want to cut them into smaller pieces.
Marinating vegetables in an oil-based salad dressing or marinade can make them easier to handle and not so likely to stick. But watch them closely. Many marinades have sugar added and will cause them to burn. For food safety purposes, reserve marinades for that purpose and do not reuse them for marinating meat or other foods.
I love grilling vegetables with herbs. Rosemary with olive oil is my favorite; although I have used oregano, dill, thyme, basil and tarragon. I combine the herb and a little olive oil in a bowl and brush the mixture on the vegetables. Then grill them, turning to avoid charring. You can grill them directly on the grill, or in a grilling basket.
If you are short on time, lightly steam root vegetables like potatoes or carrots in the microwave before adding them to a summer vegetable mixture of kebobs.
Kebobs can be difficult to turn but may be easier to manage when foods are similar in size and skewered in the center, or when vegetables are run through two skewers placed parallel to each other. If you do not have metal skewers, you can use inexpensive bamboo skewers. Soak bamboo skewer sticks in water for an hour before cooking to keep them from burning.
Start vegetables over medium heat (medium coals glow through a layer of gray ash) to sear their skins. Turn each one to two minutes, and then move them to the side of the grill over indirect heat to finish cooking. The easiest way to tell if the vegetables are done is to poke them with a fork or skewer. They should be fork tender.
Remember, cooking times will vary according to your choice of vegetable. Be sure to keep a close watch as veggies are generally more delicate than meats. A touch of smoke greatly enhances vegetables, but no one wants charred lumps.
You don't have to just use the grilled vegetables as a side dish. Be creative and use them in other recipes as well. Consider adding grilled peppers to a salad, whether pasta or green. It's a perfect way to sneak vegetables into lasagna. Layer sandwiches with mozzarella, pesto and grilled vegetables for a new sandwich idea. Or jazz up your frozen cheese pizza with grilled veggies of your choice.
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609. We're online at [email protected], on Facebook and Twitter at MillerCountyFCS, or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.
Try something different with Grilled Radishes or Grilled Onions. They would be great on a salad or sandwich. If you don't like radishes, you can replace them with other vegetables you do like. The grilled onions get sweeter when grilled. Imagine them on a pizza or sandwich. Yum!
12 to 14 radishes (1 bunch) quartered
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, divided into pieces
1 tablespoon water
Salt and pepper as desired
Preheat the grill to high. Place radishes, onions, garlic and butter pieces on aluminum foil. Sprinkle with water and wrap vegetables into a tightly sealed packet. Place packet on grill and cook 20 minutes or until vegetables reach desired tenderness.
4 large onions
1/2 cup butter
4 chicken bouillon cubes
Preheat grill to medium heat. Peel outer layer off onions. Slice a small section off of one end of each onion, to make it sit flat and remove a few rings in the center. Fill the center of each onion with a bouillon cube and 2 tablespoons butter or margarine. Replace the top of the onion and wrap in aluminum foil. Place onions on grill over indirect heat and close the lid. Cook for 1 hour, or until tender. Remove the tops and cut into bite size chunks. Place in a serving dish with all the juices from the foil.
Carla Due is a county extension agent-staff chair with the Miller County Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.