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Enjoy fruits and vegetables from the grill

June 21, 2006|by LYNN F. LITTLE

The outdoor grill is not just for meats, poultry and fish. Grilling also works well for an assortment of fruits and vegetables. The next time you're wondering what to serve with barbecued hamburgers, steaks, chicken or fish, look no further than your own garden. Grilling fruits and vegetables is an easy way to add color and variety, as well as nutrition, to any grilled meal.

For best results, choose fruits and vegetables that are ripe and ready to eat. Always wash and dry produce before grilling. Before cooking, brush fruits and vegetables lightly with oil, melted butter or a marinade to help prevent sticking. When grilling produce, it's preferable to use low heat.

When grilling fruits, slice the fruit in half and remove any pits and/or cores. Begin by grilling the pulp side down, turning as needed. In general, fruits take three to five minutes to cook. Keep in mind that fruit can easily burn due to its high sugar content, so watch it closely.

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When preparing vegetables for the grill, cut them into half-inch slices or medium-sized chunks. Vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, baby carrots, okra, onion slices, pepper chunks, summer squash and tomatoes usually cook in about five to seven minutes. Root vegetables, including potatoes, beets and winter squash, may take 20 to 45 minutes to cook, depending on whether they are whole, sliced or cut into pieces.

Since not all vegetables cook at the same rate, lightly steaming root vegetables like potatoes and carrots in the microwave before adding them to a vegetable mixture or kebab will help all the vegetables be ready to eat at the same time.

Grilling fruits and vegetables can bring out seasonal flavors. It also can simplify meal preparation, reduce utility bills and make short work of clean-up. Use heavy-duty foil or a reusable foil baking pan with an edge to prevent smaller fruits and vegetables from slipping through the grill grid.

Use inexpensive bamboo skewers for making vegetable kebabs. Be certain to soak the bamboo skewers in water before using them on the grill. This will prevent the skewers from burning. Kebabs can be difficult to turn, but may be easier to manage when foods are similar in size and skewered in the center.

For delicious and flavorful fruits and vegetables from your grill, try the following suggestions:

  • Bananas in the peel. Slice whole bananas lengthwise with their peels still on; brush the cut side with canola oil. Place cut-side down on the grill and cook until lightly browned, about two minutes. Turn and grill until the bananas begin to pull away from the peel, about two to four minutes more.

  • Grilled pineapple rounds. Lightly sprinkle brown sugar onto half-inch thick pineapple slices. Grill the slices, turning a few times, until browned, about five minutes.

  • Cantaloupe kebabs. Thread chunks of cantaloupe onto skewers and brush lightly with a mixture of honey, butter and chopped mint. Cook three to four minutes, turning the fruit to grill each side.

  • Filled peach halves. Fill peach halves with fresh blueberries and sprinkle with brown sugar and lemon juice. Wrap in aluminum foil and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once. Serve while hot.

  • Grilled portobello mushrooms. Marinate a large Portobello mushroom in French or Italian dressing - or make your own dressing with 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, a clove of minced garlic, salt and pepper - and grill it like a burger.

  • Shrimp and veggie kebabs. Cut vegetables such as squash, peppers, onions and mushrooms into equal-sized pieces. Place on skewers with shrimp or chunks of turkey breast. Brush with fresh fruit juice or broth and grill. These can also be wrapped in aluminum foil before grilling. Cook until meat is done.

  • Grilled tomato halves. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise, brush with canola or olive oil, and add salt, pepper and your favorite spices. Wrap in foil and grill sliced side up for six to eight minutes.





Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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