The Veggie Table: Vegetarian Grill Ideas

by in The Veggie Table, July 29, 2012
grilled zucchini and tomatoes
Grilled Zucchini and Tomatoes, from Food Network Magazine's 50 Things to Grill in Foil.

Most grill recipes may focus on meat, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an assortment of great grilled vegetarian dishes that can be prepared on everyone’s favorite summer cooking appliance. Whether you’re heading to a barbecue or cooking for friends, there are a few things to keep in mind when grilling a mix of meat and non-meat dishes.

Most vegetarians would prefer that their food isn’t touching any meat remnants on the grill. Be sure to thoroughly scrape and clean your grill before cooking any vegetarian foods. You can also keep vegetarian food separate by cooking it on a specific portion of the grill that doesn’t touch meat. Grill baskets are a great way to ensure you don’t lose any small pieces of food between the grates, but it’s also a helpful way to keep foods separate.

Now that you’re ready to get your grill on, here are some of my favorite ways to use the grill each summer (and into fall!), sans meat:

Vegetables:

  • Slice zucchini, eggplant, and portobella mushrooms into thin strips. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before grilling. Use these as the filling in a healthy panini, or to top a veggie burger.
  • Bake potatoes right on the grill. Simply pierce the spuds a few times with a fork, brush with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and place the potatoes directly on hot grill coals for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size, until the potato is cooked through.
  • Grilled veggie foil packets mean everyone can put together their own packet with favorite summer veggie combos. Cut a variety of vegetables – potatoes, onions, and peppers, for example – into evenly-sized pieces. Create pockets using heavy duty foil (about 12” square) and place veggies with a dash of salt and garlic powder inside. Drizzle on a teaspoon of olive oil, and close the foil pocket tightly by folding over the edges. Grill covered for about 15 minutes on each side.

Fruit:

  • Grilling fruit caramelizes the natural sugars in the fruit giving it an even sweeter, juicier taste. Slice pineapple and grill with a dash of cinnamon, or halve peaches, brush with olive oil and grill a few minutes on each side until soft. Top with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of honey.
  • Slice firm bananas in half and grill on medium heat for a few minutes each side, flipping once, to use as a banana split base. You can even enjoy grilled bananas for breakfast over homemade pancakes or waffles. Or, why not grill frozen whole-wheat waffles while you’re at it?

Entrees

  • Grilled pizza is a summer favorite since you avoid heating up the kitchen with your oven.  Make your own pizza dough, or use store-bought for a convenient time-saver. To avoid the pizza dough drooping between the grill grates lay the dough on a pizza pan over the grill grates.
  • Grilling sandwiches adds a smoky flavor and crisps the bread. Brush thick sandwich bread slices with olive oil before placing on the grill. You can grill the bread before building the sandwich, or place the whole sandwich right on the grates.

Dessert

  • Besides grilled fruit for dessert, you can also satisfy your sweet tooth by grilling slices of pound cake for a few minutes on each side. Top with fresh strawberries and some homemade ice cream.
  • Bake a fruity cobbler in a cast iron skillet on a covered grill, rotating the skillet halfway through cooking. Try fresh seasonal berries or ripe stone fruits.

TELL US: What’s your favorite thing to grill?

Janel Ovrut Funk, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Eat Well with Janel, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel.  Catch up on her previous postshere.

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