Introducing fruit and vegetables to the grill is just another way to enjoy them! Have you tried grilled lettuce? It’s superb. Grilling fruit is an entire gateway to dessert. No longer just a refreshing summer snack, grilled fruit is a sweet and succulent way to wrap up an outdoor grilling extravaganza.
If it’s your first time grilling produce, here’s what to know to get those sweet, smoky, caramelized results!
Here are a few things to know about grilling fruit and vegetables:
Preheat the grill for 15 minutes.
Like with proteins, a hot and properly pre-heated grill is essential. Preheat the grill on high heat for 15 minutes before grilling. This allows time for the grill’s grates to take on radiant heat from the grill’s heat source, which they will use to pass on to the fruits and vegetables.
Blot dry and brush with oil.
Since the water content of vegetables can hinder searing, which is where our flavor is, make sure the fruits and vegetables are blotted dry and brushed with a thin coat of olive oil.
Have your tools handy.
Grilling fruits and vegetables is pretty straightforward, but you’ll still want your basic list of grill tools, including heavy-duty tongs, heat-resistant gloves, and our timer. Use a timer to keep yourself on track so you don’t get distracted and forget about the fruit while in in the midst of grilling other things.
I use a timer that can set three different timers. It helps me keep track of different items on different grills, so I always know where I am no matter what.
Grilled fruit and vegetables are almost always grilled over direct medium heat (350º to 450º F). Due to their relatively short cook times and lack of flareup potential (unless slathered with a fat or sugary glaze), a two-zone fire is not necessary.
How to Grill Corn
Nothing yells summer like fresh bushels of corn at the local store. Plentiful as corn is, I never get tired of it because there are so many ways to grill it.
Here are three ways to do it:
- Option #1 - In the husk: Place the corn, still in the husk, on the grill for 30 minutes over direct medium heat (350 to 450º F). The husks enable the corn to steam and cook itself. Once done, remove the husk and silk, season, and eat.
- Option #2 - Fully husked: Another option is to brush a husked corn cob with oil and desired seasonings and grill over direct medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating as needed.
- Option #3 - Slightly husked: Finally, my favorite method is to peel back the husk without removing it completely, remove the silk, brush the corn with butter and herbs, then replace the husk and either secure it with butcher twine or a loose piece of husk. Grill for 30 minutes over direct medium heat. It’s well worth the extra work.
How to Grill Asparagus
Grilled asparagus is known for two things at my house: a wonderful addition to dinner and the vegetable most likely to be dropped through a grill grate. Here’s how to grill it:
- Look for large spears: When choosing asparagus for grilling, look for large spears. You’re less likely to overcook them if they’re larger, but more importantly, they’re also less likely to fall through the grate.
- Consider using skewers or a perforated grill pan: To ensure all of the asparagus returns from the grill, consider either running skewers through the spears to form what looks like a raft or use a perforated grill pan.
- Brush with oil and grill over direct medium heat (350 to 450º F): Lightly brush the asparagus with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill over direct medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping once.
How to Grill Mushrooms
Large meaty mushrooms like portobellos are ideally suited for the grill, whether grilled as a meat substitution for a hamburger or stuffed with a herb cheese filling. But small mushrooms work well, too!
- Clean and de-stem the mushrooms: Be sure to clean the mushrooms. If grilling portobellos, remove the stem before preparing. (Depending on the recipe, you may need to remove the gills as well.)
- Oil and season with salt. If you're grilling smaller mushrooms like cremini or button, use a perforated grill pan to keep the mushrooms from falling through the grates.
- Grill over direct medium heat (350 to 450º F): Grill 10 minutes for portobello mushrooms and 6-8 minutes for cremini and button.
How to Grill Romaine Lettuce
One of my favorite vegetables to grill is lettuce. When entertaining, it’s always a fun way to bring something unexpected off the grill.
While grilled cabbage is also well adapted to the grill’s heat, I love to grill romaine hearts for Caesar salads. The water content of the lettuce allows it to take on the heat without immediately wilting.
Here’s what to do:
- Split the romaine heart in half: After washing the romaine, cut it in half.
- Grill over direct medium heat (350º to 450º F) for 3-5 minutes: This is enough time for the romaine to take on grill marks. The grill will add a sweet smoky taste to the romaine. Top with a fresh vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan cheese.
How to Grill Peppers
I love to smoke jalapenos for poppers and poblanos for huevos rancheros, but my favorite is a red bell pepper. Whether it’s burgers, quesadillas, or tacos, roasted red peppers are never far out of reach. When grilled, they are tender and sweet and pair with about anything.
This method will work with any pepper, not just red peppers!
- Lightly brush with olive oil and grill over direct medium heat (350º to 450º F): Turn the peppers to grill all sides, until the outside is blackened, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the grill and place in a paper bag: Put the peppers in a paper bag, seal, and let sit for 10 minutes. The heat from the pepper within the enclosed space of the bag helps the pepper sweat off its charred skin.
- Remove the pepper from the bag: Remove the skin, slice, and de-seed.
How to Grill Fruit: Apricots, Peaches, Strawberries, Pineapple, Banana
When fresh fruit touches hot grill grates, the naturally occurring sugar caramelizes under the heat. The result is a rich, sweet, transformation making grilled fruit the perfect complement for a bowl of vanilla ice cream or the garnish for a summertime cocktail.
- Apricots and peaches: These are two of my favorite stone fruits. To grill, remove the pit, slice, and place cut side down on the grill. Grill on direct medium heat (350º to 450º F) for 6 to 8 minutes. Pair with a dollop of whipped heavy cream and honey. Grilled peaches are great with this grilled pork tenderloin.
- Strawberries and kiwi: These also do well on the grill. Because of their size, strawberries are best suited for a skewer. (That’s not necessary for kiwi.) Grill over direct medium heat (350º to 450º F) for 4-5 minutes.
- Pineapple: Pineapple is transformed by the grill. Slice the pineapple, then grill the slices over direct medium heat (350º to 450º F) for 2 minutes, flipping once. If you have a rotisserie, a spun and honey glazed pineapple is out of this world. Just be sure to watch the amount of added sugar you apply, as if left unmonitored, it is more likely to burn. Add grilled pineapple to this Hawaiian pork burger!
- Banana: My favorite grilled fruit is a banana. Slit it open and stuff it full of marshmallows and chocolate, then grilled upright over direct medium heat (350º to 450º F) for 5 to 6 minutes. The heat turns the peel black and the banana flesh and marshmallows into a mushy sweet treat. This is definitely in the dessert category!