Summer may be nearly over, but there are still plenty of warm days ahead. That means there are still lots of chances to use the backyard grill. Though this conjures up mouth-watering visions of Labor Day meals starring sizzling steaks, chicken and other animal protein, don’t forget the grilled vegetables. Grilling lends an uncommon tastiness to vegetables. The best vegetables to grill are soft but not watery, and take only a few minutes per side before they’re ready. Here are five vegetables that are great for grilling:
Mushrooms are technically the fruiting bodies of an underground fungus, and the ones to put on the grill are the big, meaty ones like the portobello or porcini. I clean them, stem them, place then in a bowl and toss with a marinade made of olive oil, crushed garlic and balsamic vinegar. I let them sit for an hour, then place them on a fired-up grill, and turn them often for about 10 minutes until they’re done.
All this soft skinned squash needs is to be washed, cut in two lengthwise and brushed with olive oil. I like to toss zucchini with salt for about a half an hour to remove any bitterness.
Eggplants can be big and round, smallish and oval or long and thin. They can be purple or white or purple and white striped. All of them are good for grilling. I cut them into 1/2 inch thick slices, put them in a colander in the sink, toss them with salt, let them drain for about an hour, then rinse and pat dry.
Sweet peppers are not only good to eat but are beautiful to behold with their bright green, red and golden colors that don’t fade with cooking. I quarter the peppers, remove the ribs and the seeds, and flatten them a bit before putting them on the grill.
Fire up the grill until it’s hot, then brush the cut sides of the vegetables with olive oil. Put them cut side down about four inches from the fire for about seven to 10 minutes, turn them two or three times and keep brushing with oil until they’re browned and tender.
Corn in the Husk
Though naked ears of corn can be placed on the grill, it’s a special treat to grill them in their husks. At the end, the husks are black and burnt, but the kernels are sweet and tender. Use the freshest corn possible. If there’s a cornfield out back, all the better!
First, I peel back the husks but don’t remove them. Remove as much of the cornsilk as possible, then rub the kernels with softened butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then, I rewrap the kernels in the husks, and cook the corn on the grill about four inches from the flame for 10 to 12 minutes. I turn the husks frequently until they are charred. I let the corn cool, then I and my guests strip off the husks, and slather on some butter, salt and pepper.
I serve my grilled vegetables with grilled meats, garlic bread, crisp green salads and equally crisp white wines or beer.