When you think about barbecuing, your mind automatically goes to thick juicy steaks, baby-back pork ribs, and beer can chicken, but these days vegetarians are showing their meat loving friends a thing or two when it comes to cooking on the grill. Technically you do not have to be a veggie head to appreciate great mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes grilled to perfection.
If you have never tried grilled vegetables, you are missing out. There is something incredibly special that happens to an ear of corn and a bunch of asparagus when it is tossed on the barbecue. It adds flavor that you would never find in raw veggies, and let’s face it, if all you eat is meat it can get pretty boring. Broccoli, onions and potatoes taste delicious when they are grilled and add another dimension to your meal.
Preparation really is the key. Before you throw zucchini, cabbage or an eggplant on the grill it is important to season first. Try experimenting with different herbs and spices. Mix up about a cup of salt, and a ¼ cup of ground black pepper and garlic salt and you have a delicious seasoning that works on meat, vegetables and even fruit. Before you season, rub your veggies with a bit of olive oil. This allows the seasoning to adhere to the vegetables, and also prevents burning.
Most people have never gone past the humble kebab. Chunks of steak, fish or chicken pair remarkably well with mushrooms, onions, and cherry tomatoes, but if you want to step out of your comfort zone, try something new. Portobello mushrooms are a great alternative to beef burgers. All you have to do is take out the stem. Some cooks like to scrape out the gills, while others leave them alone. It really is a matter of preference. Oil the mushroom caps with grape seed or olive oil, and coat well with a mixture of salt, pepper, onion salt and paprika. Throw them on the grill cap side up for about 15 to 20 minutes. The longer you grill, the meatier they will taste. Just before they are ready to eat, flip them over and add a slice of Swiss cheese. Once it melts you are ready to throw your Portobello burger on to an onion bun and dig in.
Corn on the cob is delicious on the barbecue. Shuck the corn and put it on the cue. Baste it with butter and season with salt. After about 20 minutes you can bite into the sweetest ear of corn that you have ever eaten. The county fair will have nothing on you.
Jalapeno poppers are delicious and are something that will have your meat eating friends begging for more. All you need to do is chop the tops of a dozen 5” jalapeno peppers. Rinse and be sure and scoop out all of the seeds unless you want your friends drinking all of your beer. After all, the seeds are where the heat is. Stuff the shells with cream cheese, oil them up with olive oil and place them on the grill. Continue turning until the shells begin to sweat and blacken.
Most people have no idea that you can grill fruit, and if you have never tried it, you have really led a sheltered life. Watermelon, pineapple, apples and even banana’s are delicious on the barbecue. Just like vegetables, all you have to do is oil them up, use some seasoning and place them on the grill.
Step out of the stone-age and head to the produce section. Your friends and family will probably call you crazy until they take a bite of your grilled fruit and vegetables.