Nothing says, “summer is in the air” quite like the smell of food on the grill.  Last year, we wrote about avoiding potential hazards of grilling animal proteins at high heat – read more here.  This week we thought we would share some more tips on making your cookout healthier with some fresh ideas for grilled vegetables and fruits.

Grilled Plants 2.0:  A platter of grilled vegetables is always appreciated at a barbecue.    Here are some off-the-grid ideas to keep it fresh and simple:

  • Grill something unexpected: Cauliflower steaks are a Living Plate team favorite! Remove leaves and some of the base of the cauliflower head.  Slice through the base to create beautiful “steaks”.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill gently over low-medium heat until just tender.  Kick it up a notch by topping with our favorite herb chimichurri dressing studded with capers.  The little bursts of tanginess will complement most vegetables and keep them from being ho-hum.
  • Grill lettuces:  We love radicchio, romaine, and endive on the grill.  Cut heads in half, brush with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill over low-medium heat.  Grill just until marks appear then remove from heat.  Drizzle with chimichurri or just sprinkle with some feta cheese while the lettuces are still warm.
  • Grill fruit:  Something magical happens when you grill fruit – the natural sugars caramelize and the smokiness from the grill creates a unique flavor experience.  Some of our favorites include pineapple rings, stone fruit halves [like peaches, plums, and nectarines], skewered strawberries, banana halves, cantaloupe and watermelon wedges.  Brush fruit with coconut oil and gently grill over low-medium heat.  Top with chopped herbs like mint and basil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Grill plant proteins and burger alternatives: Tempeh and extra-firm tofu do really well on the grill.  Cube, marinate and place on skewers and serve warm topped with chimichurri and cool cucumber salad on the side.  Grill portobello mushrooms to enjoy as burgers – key here is to remove the gills with a spoon before grilling as they tend to burn.  Serve mushroom “burger” layered with avocado, tomato, crisp lettuce, and spicy mustard.