Enjoy the Thrill of the Grill – and a Meatless Memorial Day.

May 25th, 2015


Grilled Pineapple Watermelon Salad small

It’s hard to enjoy summer without grilling – but it’s easy to enjoy grilling without meat.  In fact, going with veggies on the barbi, or grilling up veggie burgers, will let you enjoy all that delicious smoky flavor you you love without sabotaging your swimsuit diet.

Then there are the health benefits of meatless grilling. Hotdogs unfortunately fall into that ‘processed meat’ category and eating too much processed meat may actually shave years off your life. Also, grilling meat at high temperatures, especially when it’s charred, can release cancer-causing compounds. Meatless grilling lets you avoid all that.

One of the best parts of summer grilling is the endless creativity it makes possible.  Almost anything can go on the grill, from pizza to pound cake, tofu to fruit slices.  So kick-off the summer in style by moving your Meatless Monday out of the kitchen and onto the grill.

imgresTo help you with that, we asked a good friend of Meatless Monday, Karen Caplan, President & CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, to give us some tips about grilling fruits and vegetables.  What follows are some smokin’ suggestions from her:

“Grilling brings out the flavors of fruits and vegetables like no other cooking method can. But not a lot of people use the grill for vegetables, let alone fruits! Here are some tricks and tips to make grilling fruits and vegetables a breeze.

Grilling brings out the flavors of fruits and vegetables like no other cooking method can. But not a lot of people use the grill for vegetables, let alone fruits! Here are some tricks and tips to make grilling fruits and vegetables a breeze.

Well-oiled grate: Vegetables and fruits tend to stick to the grate more because of the caramelizing sugars. Brush some oil on the grate or use a no-stick cooking spray before adding your produce to the grill.

Use metal cooling rack as your veggie grill: I learned this tip from one of Alton Brown’s videos, and it works like a charm. Vegetables tend to fall through the grill grate. By putting a smaller grate cooling rack on the grate, you can still get beautiful grill marks without sacrificing too many slices to the fire.

Aluminum foil is your best friend: Vegetable packets are easy to make, cook, and clean up. Add your favorite vegetables onto a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with some olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Fold up the packet and seal the edges well. Set the packets on the grill and let the vegetables steam themselves. You can do the same with fruits and sugar, and serve over vanilla ice cream.

Skewers can also be your friends: Wooden or metal, 09_SimplyVegetarian777_Mushroom_Tikka_Masalaskewers make grilling fruits and vegetables easy AND fun! The key is to make sure all the pieces are about the same thickness so they cook evenly. Parboiled fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, shishito peppers, elephant garlic cloves, baby sunburst squash, and zucchini are all wonderful on skewers (it’s important to parboil them first, so they don’t dehydrate on the grill). Pineapple, watermelon, and other melon cubes are all delicious when lightly caramelized.

Try something unexpected: You can put more on the grill than onions, peppers, carrots, and zucchini! Did you know that you can grill leafy vegetables like Belgian endive, radicchio, baby bok choy, and even romaine lettuce? They actually get sweeter when a little charred. You can also grill fava beans in the pods and eat them whole, pods and all. Try avocado halves, grilled right in the skin. As for fruits, have you ever had grilled starfruit? Slice them thick and put them on skewers with other fruits for fun fruit kebabs!

Here’s an easy recipe by one of my favorite bloggers, Sharon Palmer, R.D., that’s become a favorite of mine…and it’s unexpected!”



Grilled Artichokes: Original recipe by Sharon Palmer, R.D.

2 large artichokes

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (or any herbs you like)

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare artichokes by rinsing, then trimming 1 inch off tops and 1/2 inch off stems. Slice in half lengthwise. With metal spoon, scoop out blossom portion (the “choke”). Place artichokes in medium pot with water and cook 10 minutes, until almost tender. Drain, then place artichokes in baking dish. Whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, Herbes de Provence, and salt and pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over artichokes and allow to marinate about 30 minutes. Place artichokes cut side up on hot grill (or grill pan) for 2-3 minutes, then turn over and grill 5 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.