If you’re looking for something lighter, healthier and tastier than typical grilled fare, think about cooking up a salad on the grill. Not only can you cook the obvious chicken breast or steak for your salad, but the grill also does wonders with vegetables, fruits and even sturdy lettuces.
Grilling gives the ingredients a hint of smoke, a touch of char, that regular salads just don’t have. I like to make my dinner salads with protein, so I cook chicken, steak and fish on the grill. Don’t stop there, though: veggies and fruit go on too.
Any vegetable you like to oven-roast is a good candidate for the grill. Think: onions, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, fennel and asparagus. Grill thick slices until marked on both sides, then reduce heat (or move to a cooler part of the grill) and cook until tender. Try grilling sturdy greens like romaine and escarole. A few minutes on the grates makes them delightfully smoky and pleasantly wilted.
To keep food from sticking, oil a paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub on the preheated grill rack. Don’t use cooking spray on a hot grill. To prep veggies for the grill, toss them with oil so they brown nicely and don’t dry out.
For smaller items like cherry tomatoes use skewers to keep them from falling through the grates. A Grill Basket is also great for small vegetables. Just place mushrooms or onion slices into the basket and stir occasionally until done.
Tofu, tempeh, veggie dogs, veggie sausage and veggie burgers all taste great when cooked on the grill!
- Meat substitutes tend to stick to the grill, so be sure to use a light brushing of oil to help prevent sticking. A non-stick grate or foil packets lightly coated with oil can also be helpful.
- When grilling tofu, use firm or extra-firm and press it prior to cooking to remove as much of the moisture as possible.
- Grill over a preheated grill (not too hot!) for 5-7 minutes per side. Place the tofu directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move it to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside doesn’t cook too quickly.
- Try marinating tofu overnight or for quicker turnaround time, 30 minutes will get the job done.
- Burger and hot dog alternatives grill up fairly quickly over indirect heat. Follow instructions on the packaging, as ingredients and cooking times may vary.
Grilled Caesar Salad
- 2 flat anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, chopped
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices baguette
- 1 large pasteurized egg
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 3 hearts of romaine (18 ounces)
- 1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
Purée anchovies, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth.
Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).
Brush both sides of baguette slices with some of anchovy dressing, then grill bread, turning over occasionally, until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg and lemon juice to dressing in blender and blend until emulsified, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt.
Cut romaine hearts in half lengthwise, then grill, cut sides down, covered only if using a gas grill, until grill marks just appear, about 2 minutes. Cut romaine crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips and transfer to a bowl.
Halve or quarter toasts and add to romaine along with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Toss salad with just enough dressing to coat and serve immediately.
Grilled Pork and Peach Salad
- 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 medium peaches or nectarines, pitted, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon each ground black pepper and salt
- 3 cups torn fresh Bibb lettuce
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup bias-sliced green onions (2)
On four 10-inch skewers, thread pork cubes. On three more 10-inch skewers, thread peach cubes. For a charcoal grill, place skewers on the grill rack directly over medium coals.
Grill, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until peaches are browned and for 10 to 12 minutes or just until pork is slightly pink in the center, turning occasionally.
(For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place skewers on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed.)
Meanwhile, in a large bowl stir together the honey, orange juice, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. When pork skewers are done, remove pork and peaches from skewers and place in honey mixture; toss to coat.
To serve, arrange lettuce and spinach on serving plates. Spoon pork and peaches evenly over greens. Sprinkle with green onions. Makes 4 servings.
Grilled Chicken Salad
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- Steak seasoning
- 8 cups mesclun or spring salad greens or spinach
- 3/4 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- 1/3 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
For vinaigrette, in a screw-top jar combine oil, vinegar, dill, garlic, pepper, and oregano. Cover and shake well; let stand 1 hour.
Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken breast halves lightly with steak seasoning. Grill chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals or in a closed gas grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender and no longer pink (165 degrees F), turning once. Cool slightly.
Arrange salad greens on 4 plates; top with grapes, cheese and pine nuts. Slice each chicken breast and arrange one sliced breast on each salad. Shake dressing and drizzle over the salads. Makes 4 servings
Grilled Salmon Penne Salad
- 10 ounces fresh or frozen skinless, boneless salmon fillet or other fish fillet
- 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar or any flavor vinegar that you like
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 6 ounces dried penne pasta (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup bias-sliced, trimmed fresh asparagus spears or any vegetable in season
- 1 cup fresh raspberries or sliced fresh strawberries
- Cracked black pepper
- 2 green onions, sliced
Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, garlic, and pepper. Remove 2 teaspoons of the oil mixture for brushing on the fish; set aside remaining oil mixture to toss with pasta.
Preheat an outdoor grill. Place fish directly on the greased grates or in a foil grill pan. Brush the 2 teaspoons oil mixture over fish. Grill fish with closed cover. Allow 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions, adding the asparagus for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain well. Return pasta mixture to saucepan. Pour remaining oil mixture over pasta; toss to coat.
Flake cooked salmon. Add salmon to pasta; toss gently. Cover and chill for 2 to 4 hours.
To serve, add berries to pasta mixture; toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with green onions and cracked black pepper. Makes 4 servings.
Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad
- 1 medium eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges*
- 2 green and/or red sweet peppers, halved, stems, membranes, and seeds removed
- 6 large cremini mushrooms, stems removed
- 3 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- Fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Dash ground black pepper
Herb Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, cider vinegar, snipped fresh parsley, snipped fresh thyme, snipped fresh rosemary, salt and dash ground black pepper.
In a very large bowl, combine eggplant, onion wedges, sweet peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Add olive oil and cider vinegar. Toss to coat vegetables.
Place vegetables on greased of an uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals or on a covered gas grill. Grill for 3 minutes; turn vegetables. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes more or until vegetables are tender.
To serve, cut each pepper half into 3 strips. Arrange vegetables on a platter. Drizzle with Herbed Vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, garnish with fresh thyme. Makes 4 servings.
*Leave onion wedges attached at the root end to hold wedges together.
Grilled Marinated Flank Steak Salad
Creamy Basil Dressing, recipe below
- 1 lb beef flank steak
- 4 small yellow and/or red sweet peppers, stemmed, seeded, and halved
- 2 ears fresh corn, husked and silks removed
- 4 green onions, trimmed
- Olive oil
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
- Fresh basil sprigs
Divide dressing in half.
Trim fat from the steak. Score both sides of the steak in a diamond pattern by making shallow diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals. Place steak in a resealable plastic bag. Pour one portion of the dressing over the steak in the bag; set remaining dressing portion aside. Seal bag; turn to coat steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Brush sweet pepper, corn, and green onions with olive oil.
For a charcoal grill, grill steak and corn on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals until steak is desired doneness and corn is tender, turning steak once halfway through grilling and turning corn occasionally.
For steak, allow 17 to 21 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees F) to medium (160 degrees F). For corn, allow 15 to 20 minutes. Add sweet pepper halves to the grill for the last 8 minutes of grilling and green onions to the grill for the last 4 minutes grilling, turning frequently.
(For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place meat and, later, vegetables on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)
Thinly slice meat against the grain. Coarsely chop sweet peppers and green onions; cut corn from cob. Serve meat, vegetables and tomatoes over romaine lettuce. Drizzle with the reserved portion of the dressing. Garnish with basil sprigs. Makes 4 servings
Creamy Basil Dressing
Makes about 1 cup
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons chopped shallot
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 12 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Grilled Shrimp & Plum Kebabs
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
- 4 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 16 raw shrimp, (8-12 per pound), peeled and deveined
- 4 hot peppers or jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
- 3-4 plums, depending on size, pitted and cut into sixths
- 1 bunch arugula, washed, dried, and torn
Whisk oil, oregano, lime zest, lime juice and salt in a large bowl. Set aside 4 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl to use as dressing. Add shrimp, jalapeños and plums to the remaining marinade; toss to coat.
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Make 4 kebabs, alternating shrimp, hot peppers and plums evenly among four 10-inch skewers. (Discard the marinade.) Grill the kebabs, turning once, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 8 minutes total.
Mix the arugula with the reserved dressing. Divide onto 4 plates and top each with a shrimp kabob. Makes 4 servings
- Salad Night (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Grilling Tonight? (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Sustainable Summer Grilling (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Florence Salad♥ ✽♥ Be sure to SHARE to S (skinnyfiberblog.wordpress.com)
- Healthy Eats: Delicious salad (westernhealthadvantage.wordpress.com)
July 1, 2014 at 1:56 pm
These salads all sound great. They’re full of such wonderful, summery flavors.
July 1, 2014 at 4:37 pm
Best time of the year.
July 1, 2014 at 2:59 pm
Yum. I really do love the grill. I”ll grill anything from veggies and fruits to meat and in between.
July 1, 2014 at 4:36 pm
My sentiments also. Who wants a hot kitchen.
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July 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm
I just grilled romaine for the first time last night. Keeper!
July 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm
New experiences are fun.
July 4, 2014 at 11:43 pm
Truth! Especially new food fun 🙂
July 5, 2014 at 10:32 am
Love these ideas Jovina. Now that it is hot out side, grilling on BBQ is the way to go, and you have provided a lot of wonderful ideas for the summer days ahead.
July 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm
Thank you and I agree, when it is lot, the last thing you want to do is cook in a hot kitchen.