Eating any meal outside is a delight—have you ever noticed that food somehow tastes better outside? After all, spending time outdoors has been shown to boost our mood, reduce stress, help us heal, and deliver all sorts of other benefits.
So it goes without saying that cooking and eating al fresco sounds like a whole lot of happiness to us!
Especially in recent times, as we all navigated how to safely spend quality time with our friends and family during the pandemic, many of us might feel that sharing meals outdoors is just more enjoyable and comfortable.
Grilling vegetables (and fruits!) is a spectacular way to really get to know your harvest in all its pure goodness. Cooking over fire adds a layer of complexity to your meals that pairs perfectly with the purity of flavor-bursting vegetables, fruits, herbs, and even flowers.
Let's look at a few summer barbeque rockstars—and a few unexpected contenders for “most grillable.”
Ahh, the ultimate summer garden veggie! Ripe, bright tomatoes hanging from green vines are a signal that summer has really arrived.
One of the best things about growing tomatoes is that there are so many varieties. Big, slice-able tomatoes are perfect for topping burgers or whole-roasting, while little cherry and grape tomatoes add color and flavor to salads and kabobs.
Try making green tomatoes (which aren’t just unripe red ones, although those can be eaten, too) the star of your next BBQ meal. Famous for their deep-fried version, green tomatoes are incredible—and much more healthy—grilled! Check out this mouthwatering Grilled Green Tomato & Burrata Salad from our friends at Earthbound Farm.
Move over, burgers. Zucchini may just become the crown jewel of your summer grill-fest.
Don’t discount the mouthwatering potential of a “simple” grilled zucchini entreé, like this recipe from Delish.com.
If you’ve ever grown zucchini in your garden, you know that their yield can seem endless. A healthy zucchini plant is so bountiful that sometimes gardeners end up giving away bushels of extra squash. Our suggestion for surplus zukes: grill ‘em up!
There are quite a few varieties of summer squash, and while many of them will do just fine on the grill, trusty “regular” green or yellow zucchini will be the most tender and versatile for grilling.
Harvest them when they’re not too big—five or six inches will do. While it can feel gratifying to grow enormous zucchini, they’ll only get more seedy, tough, and less sweet as they bulk up.
Your zucchini squash plants will also give you a bonus menu item: blossoms!
Squash blossoms are incredibly versatile. Try them raw on salads or pasta, flash-grilled, tossed in oil, stuffed with cheese or tapenade, or deep fried.
But wait—don't those flowers need to grow into squash? Not all of them! These plants have bothmale and female blossoms. Female blossoms bear the fruit and produce those yummy squash; male blossoms are only needed to pollinate the female blossoms.
Male squash blossoms grow on taller, straight stems and are a bit more visually stunning. Those are the ones you want to harvest! Female blossoms sprout from what looks like (and will hopefully become) a tiny zucchini. Let those remain on the plant. Bees will help pollinate them and grow your harvest!
There is a downright cornucopia of fruits that are perfect for the grill.
Depending on where you live, you might have easy access to fruit trees and bushes. If not, there’s a whole world of grillable plants you can grow in your garden, especially in those raised beds.
Figs: A simple slice and one or two minutes over the fire will caramelize these gems into delicacies. Add a little feta cheese, fresh basil, and toss in a spritz of balsamic vinegar, and you’ve got yourself a side dish that will wow all your friends.
Persimmons: While persimmons are more of a Fall fruit, we couldn’t exclude them from the BBQ because they are just so delicious when grilled.
Peaches: Mmmm...just thinking about a carmelized, gooey, sugary-scented grilled peach is enough to make anyone go out and grab a bag of these sweet treats from the farmer’s market!
Melons: Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon are fun to grow and amazing on the grill!
Lemons: Now we’re getting creative! Lemons are an exceptional BBQ companion—almost everything cooked over fire tastes yummy with the addition of a little lemon juice or a sprinkle of lemon zest.
Just like any food that’s going right from your garden to your table, keeping your barbeque ingredients safe and clean shouldn’t just be an afterthought. Luckily, food safety is simple when you create habits that are easy to remember.
When harvesting, be sure to clean your tools between plants to help prevent cross-contamination if any plant is carrying fungus, bugs, or other microorganisms that could make humans or other plants sick. Always wash produce before cooking and eating.
Use a different container for storage, or thoroughly clean and dry your harvesting container before you store raw veggies and fruit in the fridge or cellar. Keep picked produce in a cool, dark, dry place.
Since the grill is a place where you might be cooking both meat and veggies. That makes it extra important to clean your cooking utensils, plates, marinating bowls, and the grill itself between dishes.
Go organic. Growing organically gives you confidence that everything grown in your garden is safe for your grill, picnic basket, and kitchen table. Since we’ve been in business, that’s a value that TRUE has been committed to: keeping you and your family safe and healthy, while nourishing the earth’s soil.
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