There’s something really special about fresh fruits and veggies cooked on the grill. I’ll never forget the first time I tasted grilled pineapple. It was a thick-cut wheel, lightly brushed with maple syrup and grilled to sweet and juicy caramelized perfection. Since then, I’ve become an avid griller of produce. From grilled veggies tossed with pasta to kabobs to grilled peaches over ice cream. If it can be found in the produce section – I’ll put it on the grill! That said, my first attempts at grilling fruits and veggies were not so successful. So with that in mind, I thought I’d pass along some favorite tips for grilling and some favorite recipes to help spark your creativity and kick off BBQ season.
Tips for grilling fruits & veggies:
- Use a light brushing of canola oil on vegetables and fruits to help prevent sticking. The use of a non-stick grate or foil packets lightly coated with oil can also be helpful.
- As a general rule, don't peel vegetables before grilling—you'll get more nutrients and enjoy a smokier flavor. Leave the husk on corn to act as a natural insulator, keeping the steam in and preventing the corn from drying out. Most fruits generally do need to be peeled prior to grilling.
- Some veggies (including artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and winter squash) can be pre-cooked to shorten grilling time and ensure that the inside and outside cook evenly. To pre-cook: Steam or blanch until just barely tender. Then, pat dry, brush lightly with oil and grill until completely tender and lightly browned.
- Veggies like eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash and tomatoes should be raw when placed on the grill.
- Ideal grilling fruits are firm and barely ripe. Watermelon, pineapple, apples, peaches and pears can all take the heat. Soak them in liquor or drizzle with honey before grilling for an added burst of flavor.
- Cook all fruits and vegetables directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. Rotate them or move them to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside isn't cooking too quickly.