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Summer grilling isn’t just for hamburgers anymore

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 11:48 a.m. CDT

Summer feels like it’s finally arrived! Many of us have already fired up the grill – it is the middle of June after all — but now that we’re feeling some summer heat, grilling will begin in earnest. Move over meat — let’s throw some veggies on the grill!

In a recent survey, only 27 percent of Americans said they ate the recommended three servings of vegetables a day. That means most of us are missing out on the essential nutrients vegetables provide. Here are some ways to prepare grilled vegetables that everyone will enjoy.

Large vegetables can be placed directly on the grill without fear of them falling through the grate. Asparagus spears, ½-inch slices of eggplant, or zucchini sliced lengthwise work especially well.

After you trim and wash vegetables, place them in a large bowl, and toss with olive oil or canola oil to prevent them from drying out as they cook. Grill for five to eight minutes, turning once. Your goal is to achieve tender and only slightly charred vegetables.

Smaller vegetables that will fall through the grill grate are terrific prepared as kabobs. Any vegetable can turn into kabobs for the grill.

Cut vegetables thick so they will stay on the skewers as they cook. Thread one type of vegetable onto each skewer, threading so the cut sides lie flat on the cooking grate to ensure even cooking.

Grill skewers according to the times below. Use your favorite Italian salad dressing as a marinade to prevent vegetables from drying out and to add flavor.

You can also baste the vegetables with olive oil before grilling. When using bamboo skewers make sure to soak them for 20 to 30 minutes before assembling so they don’t catch on fire.

Zucchini and squash

Prep: Cut into 3/4-inch rounds; thread onto skewers. Grill time: seven to 10 minutes on each side or until tender.

Sweet corn

Prep: Parboil ears of sweet corn for 10 minutes. Cut the cob into 1-inch pieces and thread onto skewers. Grill time: six to seven minutes.

New potatoes

Parboil potatoes for 12 minutes or until potatoes are just tender, but not completely cooked through; thread onto skewers. Grill time: six to seven minutes.

Bell peppers

Prep: Cut into 1-inch-thick strips; thread skewers. Grill time: four to five minutes on each side or until tender.

Mushrooms

Prep: Trim stems, and thread onto skewers. Grill time: 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until tender.

Onions

Prep: Cut into wedges, and thread onto skewers. Grill time: three or four minutes on each side or until lightly charred.

Cherry tomatoes

Prep: Thread onto double skewers. Grill time: one to three minutes on each side or just until skins begin to split.

Vegetables can also be easily prepared in a grill basket. Prepare vegetables in the same way as kabobs, toss them with olive oil, load them into the basket and place directly on the grill. If your basket doesn’t have a non stick coating, spray it with cooking spray before loading it with vegetables.

When you’re ready for a change of pace, toss vegetables, or brush kabobs, with one of these flavor combinations before grilling.

Chili-Lime

Four teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (or canola oil), 3/4 teaspoons each chili powder and ground cumin and ½ teaspoon salt. After grilling: Toss with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and lime juice to taste.

Garlic-Thyme

Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or canola oil), 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried), ½ teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper.

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