Fire Up a Spectacular BBQ
Everything available at the farmer’s markets create a perfect scenario to fire up your creativity and try grilling a wide array of fruits and veggies. Whether you are a grilling aficionado or novice, try incorporating some of these suggestions for grilled veggies and fruits to create a spectacular BBQ.
Mushrooms can serve as a hearty main dish as well as a savory side. Experiment with different varieties. Maitake (aka hen of the woods) does well when sliced thick and thrown on the grill for a crunch on the outside with a moist interior. Baby Bellas are lovely marinated on a vegetable skewer or placed in a grill basket. (Grill baskets are a great tool for any veggie!) Portobellos make an amazing patty for a sandwich or “burger”; the trick with these is to scoop out the “gills” with a spoon as a means to reduce the “inky” moisture they produce; then brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper and cook about 5-7 minutes on each side.
One of my favorite grilled veggies is avocado. Simply slice in half, brush with your favorite oil, and grill until some charred marks appear, then slice and serve over a salad, alongside a main dish, or for a fun appetizer/small plate. Stuff each half with whatever your heart desires such as a pilaf, quinoa, black bean, or corn salad and then top with cilantro, and Hello! You have a crowd pleaser!
Throw these on the grill (no chopping required!) and char them a bit for a flavorful green garnish.
Grilling romaine adds depth and texture to a Caesar salad. Keep these beauties intact and slice the head of romaine lengthwise in half, leaving the stems on, then brush or drizzle with oil, lightly grill until some charring appears, and then remove the stems.
Boil in water for 5-10 minutes (parcook), drain, cool, and slice in half. Toss with oil, salt and pepper then grill in a grill basket until skin is crispy and lightly charred.
This beautiful vegetable grills well for a tasty side dish. First lightly blanch (about one minute in boiled water), drain, and brush with a simple mixture of olive oil, minced garlic, and a squeeze of lemon, then grill until slightly charred.
Grill corn on the cob (husked) for about 10 minutes until the kernels deepen to a rich yellow. Top with a creamy sauce or some fresh herbs.
Peaches, pineapple, figs, watermelon and even grapes grill well. Brush any of these with a little coconut oil and throw them straight on the grill or in a grilling basket. The sweetness of the fruit can add depth and texture for a savory salad or main dish (such as grilled peaches over mixed greens topped with a balsamic reduction). They also make a fun dessert all by themselves, with a topping of choice, or in place of fresh fruit. Take a plain shortcake to the next level by adding grilled fruit and whipped cream.
Sauce Up Your Grilled Dishes
Marinating veggies for two to three hours before grilling is a simple way to add loads of flavor. Making your own marinades can be fun and creative. Try combinations like lemon, olive oil, herb and garlic; bourbon, brown sugar, and soy sauce; or pomegranate juice and chili.
A simple sauce can elevate ordinary grilled veggies! Experiment with some of these ideas to toss with grilled veggies:
Tahini, Lemon, Tamari
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp water
1 glove garlic (minced or chopped)
Blend or whisk by hand.
This is a savory and delicious complement to grilled vegetables such as broccolini, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, or use as a salad dressing.
Creamy Cilantro, Lime
1/2 cup soaked cashews
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
Combines well with grilled corn, stuffed avocados, or a grilled portobello burger.
Vegan Sriracha Mayo
1/4 cup vegan mayo
2 tbsp sriracha
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Pinch of cayenne if you like heat
Blend or whisk together.
Guide to Grilling Oils
Extra virgin olive oil provides robust flavor but does best over a medium flame on the grill as olive has a lower smoke point than other oils. Try brushing it on while cooking.
Sesame has a higher smoke point which means you can safely use it for cooking over higher heats. It provides depth to marinades and different varieties offer different flavors; you could even try toasted sesame oil for an Asian flare.
This healthy oil has a high smoke point making it grill-friendly and suitable for any vegetable.
With a high smoke point and a neutral flavor, this oil is a great grilling go-to.
This is another oil tolerant of high heat. Melt coconut down to its liquid form and brush on fruit prior to grilling, the tropical flavor is a delicious accompaniment for grilling fruits like peaches or pineapple.
The most important ingredient is fun!
The most important tools for a successful barbecue include your willingness to experiment and bring a sense of adventure to your time at the grill. Get ready to serve fresh dishes of grilled veggies and fruits for yourself and your friends and family.
Kayla Rose Freudenberg is a yoga teacher and plant-based chef based in Orange County who believes that optimal health is an achievable goal for everyone. Kayla combines the principles of yoga, mindfulness, and nourishing food to guide and maintain the well-being of her students and clients.