One of the greatest joys of summertime is the act of barbecuing (at least for my family), and most everyone has a favorite grilled food that they look forward to indulging in.  This summer think beyond the standard burgers and chicken when you fire up the grill.  With a cornucopia of in-season fruits and vegetables, you can cook a table-full of excellent entrees, side dishes and desserts right on your grill!

Vegetables like summer squash, Portobello mushrooms, onions, peppers and asparagus are naturals on the grill. You can do something as simple as slicing, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill until softened slightly and grill marks form.  Or wow your barbeque guests by wrapping asparagus in prosciutto and then grilling.  Those babies never disappoint.

Same goes for fruit like pineapple rings, peach halves and bananas. Grilling intensifies the flavors in produce, and softens it just enough to transform it into a real treat.  Who says you can’t have a healthy, indulgent dessert?

Here are some more easy produce grilling tips.

Corn: Peel back husks without removing them and pull off silks. Replace husks and soak corn in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Shake off excess water before placing corn on a grill rack set over medium heat. Grill, turning occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes. Unwrap corn and brush with garlic butter, squeeze with lime and sprinkle with chopped chives and cotija cheese.  Corn is a good source of vitamin B, folic acid and the antioxidant lutein. It is also high in soluble fiber.

Nectarine: Choose firm, but ripe, nectarines. Halve and pit them. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Brush nectarines with melted butter. Place fruit cut side down on oiled grill and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Turn and cook an additional 3 minutes. Brush with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Nectarines contain a fair amount of vitamins A and C.

Photo credit to Choose firm, but ripe, peaches. Halve and pit them. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Place fruit cut side down on oiled grill and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Turn and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from grill and top with a scoop of ice cream. Peaches contain both vitamins A and C.

Sweet Onion: Cut sweet onions, such as Vidalia, into 1-inch thick slices. Brush slices with olive oil then salt and pepper. Grill for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally and brushing with oil. Sweet onions are cholesterol-free, fat-free, a source of fiber, high in vitamin C and very low in sodium.

Portobello Mushrooms: Marinate mushroom caps in a mixture of vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper for 15 minutes.  Place on oiled grill and cook for 5 to 8 minutes on each side over medium-high heat.  Brush with marinade after flipping.  Top with provolone cheese during the last 2 minutes of grilling and serve on buns with your favorite garnishes.  Portobello mushrooms are low in sodium, and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol.  It is also a good source of protein and vitamin B.

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant