With summer in full swing, the bounty of fruits and vegetables available is almost overwhelming.
I’m not a vegetable gardener, but I do have generous friends who share their extras.
And here in SE Pennsylvania, we are blessed to have lots of farmers who sell their produce at small roadside stands. So we don’t have to drive far to find fresh fruits and vegetables to add to our dinners.
Since we also like to enjoy as much of the warm weather as possible, cooking on the grill is our preferred way to cook summer dinners.
Grilling is an ideal way to cook not only meats, but fruits and vegetables as well because there is minimal loss of nutrients.
Never done it before? Don’t worry - the good news is that grilling perfect produce is easy. Here are a few helpful hints to make your fruit and veggie grilling a success.
Choose fruits and vegetables that are ripe and ready to eat. Under-ripe or overly mature produce won't work on the grill.
Wash Just Before Using
For the freshest possible produce, it is best to refrigerate fruits and vegetables unwashed. But be sure to wash and pat dry before grilling.
Smaller is Better
Cut fruits and vegetables into small bite-sized pieces. This will help to reduce cooking time and ensure the proper level of doneness.
Take Their Temperature
For the best results, bring fruits and vegetables to room temperature before grilling.
Add a Splash of Oil
Brush fruits and vegetables (except corn) lightly with oil, melted butter or your favorite marinade or oil-based dressing for added flavor and to help prevent sticking.
For the Sweet Tooth
Add brown sugar to melted butter, brush over fruits and season with cinnamon or ginger while grilling. To prevent sugar from burning, brush on close to end of grilling time.
It's Hot on the Grill
Allow the grill rack to get hot before adding your fruits and vegetables. This will help seal in the natural juices without drying it out.
Use Medium Coals
To avoid burning, grill fruits and vegetables above a lightly dispersed bed of medium coals. Medium describes coals that glow through a layer of gray ash. To test for medium heat, you should be able to hold your hand over the grill for only four to five seconds.
Think Fruits and Veggies First
Because they taste best served closest to room temperature, grill fruits and veggies before grilling meat. This will allow time for the fruits and vegetables to cool so you can serve them alongside hot meats.
Flawless Corn on the Cob
For perfect corn on the cob, immerse the ears of corn (still in husk) in cold water for one to two hours prior to grilling. Then grill -- it's not necessary to remove silks -- over direct heat until husks are charred (about 15-20 minutes), turning occasionally. The moisture in the corn turns to steam when heated and cooks the corn without burning. Remember r to wear heavy rubber gloves when peeling off the hot husks and silks.
For a steamed effect, wrap vegetables in foil before grilling. Add a touch of butter, juices and herbs or your favorite dressing or marinade and you've got a great side dish. Husked and de-silked corn on the cob can be prepared this way.