When it comes to grilling, some of us are like the U.S. Postal Service. Nothing stops us from cooking outdoors over our beloved gas or charcoal briquets: not rain, cold, or the darkest night.
We like to cook out because grilling does more than enhance the flavor of vegetables; it also helps retain many of the valuable nutrients they’d lose in boiling water. Tomatoes, onions, corn, and other foods come out tender, smoky, lightly charred, and absolutely delicious.
Plan to grow your own griller’s garden this year, and you’ll have a steady supply of fresh veggies for your table. Start your favorites from seeds, or look for starter plants, and set them out in the garden after the last spring frost in your area. Many veggies and herbs will be ready to harvest by late spring to early summer. Why not make a handy, reusable Griller’s Toolbox and fill it with fresh produce from your garden? It would make a great gift for a special chef on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.
To get started on your griller’s garden, make a list of your family’s favorites. Don’t be afraid to add a few vegetables they claim to dislike, too. Once they’re tried the grilled versions, they may change their minds.
Sow the seeds indoors or directly in garden beds that you’ve dug or tilled. Add compost, manure, or other amendments; if you’re not sure what to use, do a soil test or contact your local extension service. Water your garden with about one inch of water a week, if rainfall is insufficient, and keep the plants mulched to control weeds. Use the results of your soil test to know what kind of fertilizer to use, and follow the package directions when applying it.
When your veggies are ready to harvest, wash them thoroughly. You may want to cut large vegetables into inch-thick slices so they’ll cook more evenly. Coat them with your favorite marinade, or brush them with olive oil, margarine, or butter while the grill is preheating. When it’s ready, place small vegetables crossways over the grate, so they don’t fall through, Cook them on a thick sheet of foil, thread them on skewers, or use a grill basket. When they’re done, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.
Popular vegetables for grilling include:
- peppers – red, green, and yellow
- green beans
- baby red potatoes
You can also opt to stir-fry your vegetables in a wok made for your grill. Cast iron woks heat up fast, searing in moisture and flavor. If you don’t already know it, you’ll discover that vegetables prepared on the grill are both tasty and good for you. Then you might just skip the meat.
Griller’s Toolbox designed by Michael Nolan
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