Guide to Grilling Summer Veggies

Steaks and sausages are often the main attraction of summer backyard BBQs, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Grilling veggies is an art form of its own, and when done correctly, it can allow produce to outshine its poultry counterparts.

Here’s a brief guide to perfecting various types of PNW vegetables (and fungus):

Optimal veggie temp: 400 to 425 degrees F (medium-high heat)

Slice it right: To avoid a mushy texture, start with the right slice. Root vegetables, tomatoes, squash and onions are best cut into thin (roughly ¼-inch) rounds. This allows for more surface area and an even consistency. Peppers, and other vegetables that lack a lot of interior flesh, are best de-seeded and cut into one to two-inch strips.

Pre-cook potatoes: Potatoes serve as a hearty addition to any grilled meal. But, they often need a little pre-cook time. Boil your potatoes for 8 to 10 minutes before placing them on the grill for the best outcome. Otherwise, you risk a raw center with crisped to burnt skin. Large carrots can also be prepped this way if you want to keep them whole.

When to keep it whole: There are a few choice veggies that do best when kept intact. Asparagus, green onions and corn all thrive when whole. They still need some oil and seasoning, but they are the lowest maintenance veggies on the menu.

Surprise side: Experiment with rarely seen options like a sliced head of lettuce or cabbage. The added crunch with be a pleasant surprise for guests. Try drizzling a light Caesar dressing and hint of lemon juice on flash-grilled lettuce for a quick salad option.

 

Quality Oils: Grills can get very hot, so choose an oil (or marinade) with a high smoke point to avoid any unwanted burnt flavors. Avocado and coconut oils are great options, whereas you might want to save the olive oil for the salad. Also, be liberal with the oil and thoroughly coat each piece to prevent them from drying out.

Use your tools: The fun thing about grilling is that you often get to choose your own adventure. If you want fewer grill marks, wrap them up in a foil packet. And if you do, throw in a little marinade for added flavor. Or, cut all your veggies into one by one-inch squares and place them on a skewer. Kids tend to love this option and can help make it look like art.

Highlight local foods: The Pacific Northwest is a haven for local grilling fare, but mushrooms top our list for decadent summer options (Yes, we know they are technically a fungus not a vegetable). From morels and chanterelles to oyster and trumpets, here is a simple recipe for a savory, hearty, meatless main dish:

Grilled PNW Morel Mushrooms

30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh morel mushrooms, sliced in half
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or avocado oil
  • pinch sea salt, pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Fill a large mixing bowl halfway with cool water. Soak the mushrooms for 10 minutes, and then swish them around, using your hands to remove any excess dirt. Drain the water and dump the mushrooms onto a cloth or paper towel. Thoroughly pat them dry to remove as much moisture as possible.
  2. Cut off stems or any excess roughage. Return the mushrooms to the mixing bowl and add the butter (or oil) and salt. Gently toss the mushrooms, and then place them in a foil packet.
  3. Put the foil packet on the grill at medium-high temperature and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

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