What could be easier than making your entire meal on the grill? Cook vegetable side dishes alongside your main course for a quick summer meal. Here are some of my favorite vegetables to put on the grill.
Slice eggplant into planks (1/4” thick) and give them a quick dip in a marinade before putting them on the grill. A combination of balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and olive oil is a good marinade for eggplant.
Bell peppers can be cooked two ways. Leave them whole and let them cook until charred all over for peeling, or cut them into chunks and grill until just blackened around the edges but still crisp.
The flavor of tomatoes can vastly be improved by grilling. Cut them in half crosswise and place them cut-side down on an oiled grill. After three or four minutes turn them over and add a teaspoon of basil pesto. Cook for another three to four minutes then serve.
Zucchini is another vegetable made more delicious by a quick marinade before grilling. You can even use the same balsamic-basil marinade that you use for eggplant and vary the herbs for a different taste
The onions sharp and pungent flavor transforms into mellow and sweet on the grill. Cut the onion crosswise into half-inch slices and then run a skewer through it. Grill over medium rather than high heat to keep the outside from burning before the inside is cooked.
I do not leave corn in the husk for grilling because I don’t like the taste that charred husks leave on the corn. Simply brush with melted butter or olive oil and grill to get a charred effect. If you do not want charring, wrap in foil and grill.
Par-boil small potatoes until they are just about cooked through. Then thread them onto skewers and finish them on the grill. If you have some russet potatoes and a little time, make smoked potatoes. Build a fire for indirect grilling and add a handful of wood chips or chunks. Rub the potatoes with a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Put them right on the grill and close the lid. Do not wrap them in foil. After 45 minutes to an hour the potatoes will be done (test like you would a baked potato).
Asparagus in season are hard to beat no matter how it is prepared, but just give them a few minutes on the grill and you have something even better. Make a little garlic aioli to dress the spears after they’re grilled for a delicious side dish.
Grilled Summer Squash, Onions and Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup red and/or yellow grape tomatoes
For the marinade: In a 3-quart rectangular baking dish, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt. Add zucchini and onion, stirring to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Lightly coat a grill pan with cooking spray. For a charcoal grill, preheat a grill pan on an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 15 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove zucchini and onion from marinade and place in the grill pan. Reserve marinade.
Grill vegetables for 5 to 6 minutes or just until tender and lightly brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes. Grill about 1 minute more or until tomatoes are heated through.
For a gas grill, preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium. Preheat grill pan as directed. Add vegetables as directed above. Cover and grill as above.
Remove vegetables from the grill pan. Place on a serving platter. Drizzle reserved marinade over the vegetables. Toss to combine.
Grilled Corn Salad
- 4 ears fresh corn on the cob
- 1/2 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing
- 2 cups shredded fresh spinach
- 2 cups red and yellow tomatoes, quartered
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano or basil
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Fresh oregano or basil leaves
Husk and silk corn. Brush each ear of corn with some of the Italian salad dressing. Place corn on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender, turning often. (Or place brushed ears in a shallow baking pan; bake in a 425 degree F oven for 30 minutes, turning once.) When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from the cobs (you should have about 2 cups kernels).
In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, spinach, tomatoes and the 2 teaspoons snipped oregano or basil. Add remaining Italian salad dressing; toss to coat. Spoon corn mixture into six small mugs or bowls. Sprinkle individual servings with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with oregano or basil leaves. Makes 6 servings.
Here is another way to grill potatoes.
- 2 pounds fingerling potatoes or round red potatoes
- Half of a 16 ounce package (about 2 cups) frozen small whole onions, thawed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Wash and dry potatoes. Quarter the round red potatoes, if using. Cut any large fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise, if using.
Place a 24 x 18-inch sheet of heavy foil on a flat surface. Place potatoes and onions on foil. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, chili powder, paprika and pepper. Bring up two opposite edges of the foil; seal with a double fold. Fold remaining ends to completely enclose the potatoes, leaving space for steam to build. Wrap with a second 24 x 18-inch piece of heavy foil to insulate.
Heat grill to medium. Grill the packets for 45 to 60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, turning packet every 20 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 8 (2/3-cup) servings.
Grilled Eggplant Rolls
- 3 medium eggplant
- About 1/3 cup olive oil for brushing the eggplant
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 recipe for Basil Pesto, click here for my homemade recipe
- 1 cup Tomato (Marinara) Sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
Trim the eggplant and cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices, discarding the first and last slices from each one; you should have about 16-18 slices.
Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Place over the hottest part of the grill, in batches and cook, turning once, until soft and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side; return the slices to the baking sheet as they are done.
Season the eggplant slices on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange the slices on a work surface with the narrow end of each slice toward you.
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and pesto until smooth and well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture on the narrow end of each slice of eggplant and roll up, not too tightly, like a jelly roll. Set aside.
Heat the tomato sauce and spoon the sauce onto a rimmed serving platter. Arrange the eggplant rolls seam side down in the sauce and sprinkle with the marjoram leaves.
Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad
- 4 medium Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
- 1 medium yellow sweet pepper, seeded and quartered
- 1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
- 1 recipe Balsamic Vinaigrette, see below
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- One 10 ounce package Italian mixed salad greens (romaine and radicchio)
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
- Snipped fresh basil
Place tomatoes, zucchini, sweet pepper, and onion in a large resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish. Pour the Balsamic Vinaigrette over the vegetables in the bag; seal bag. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.
Drain vegetables, reserving vinaigrette.
For a charcoal grill, grill vegetables on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill sweet pepper and onion for 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning once. Grill zucchini for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning once. Grill tomatoes, skin sides down, about 5 minutes or until soft and skins begin to char.
For a gas grill, preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place vegetables on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board; cool slightly.
In an extra-large bowl combine salad greens and basil. Add reserved vinaigrette; toss to coat. Arrange greens on a large platter. Cut grilled zucchini and sweet peppers into bite-size pieces. Arrange grilled vegetables and the cheese on top of greens. Sprinkle with snipped fresh basil.
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a screw-top jar combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, salt and black pepper. Cover and shake well.