What could be easier than making your entire meal on the grill? Cook vegetable side dishes alongside your main course for a quick summer meal. Here are some of my favorite vegetables to put on the grill along with some quick tips for bringing out their best — and a delicious recipe for “Grilled Eggplant Rolls.”
Slice eggplant lengthwise (1/4” thick) and give them a quick dip in a marinade before putting them on the grill. A combination of balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and olive oil is a good marinade for eggplant. Grill just until grill marks appear, turn, and grill for a minute or two more.
Bell peppers can be cooked two ways. Leave them whole and let them cook until charred all over, peel or cut them into chunks and grill until just blackened around the edges but still crisp.
The flavor of tomatoes can vastly be improved by grilling. Cut them in half crosswise and place them cut-side down on an oiled grill. After three or four minutes turn them over and add a teaspoon of basil pesto. Cook for another three to four minutes then serve.
Zucchini is another vegetable made more delicious by a quick marinade before grilling. You can even use the same balsamic-basil marinade that you use for eggplant and vary the herbs for a different taste. Slice the zucchini lengthwise in half and then into quarters before putting them into the marinade. Grill just until grill marks appear, turn, and grill for a minute or two more.
The onions sharp and pungent flavor transforms into mellow and sweet on the grill. Cut the onion crosswise into half-inch slices and then run a skewer through them. Grill over medium rather than high heat to keep the outside from burning before the inside is cooked. Onions only need to grill for 5 minutes per side. Turn them with a wide metal spatula, so they do not separate.
I do not leave corn in the husk for grilling because I don’t like the taste that charred husks leave on the corn. Simply brush with melted butter or olive oil and grill to get a charred effect. If you do not want charring, wrap in foil and grill for 15 minutes.
Par-boil small potatoes until they are just about cooked through. Then thread them onto skewers and finish them on the grill for a little smoky flavor.
Asparagus in season are hard to beat no matter how it is prepared, but just give them a few minutes on the grill and you have something even better. Turn them several times to keep from charring. Make a little garlic aioli to dress the spears after they’re grilled for a delicious side dish.
Here is a great recipe for you to make on the grill.
Grilled Eggplant Rolls
3 medium eggplant
About 1/3 cup olive oil for brushing the eggplant
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 recipe for Basil Pesto, click here for my homemade recipe
1 cup tomato (Marinara) sauce
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
Trim the eggplant and cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices, discarding the first and last slices from each eggplant. You should have about 16-18 slices.
Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil.
Place them over the hottest part of the grill, in batches and cook, turning once, until soft and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side; return the slices to the baking sheet as they are done.
Season the eggplant slices on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange the slices on a work surface with the narrow end of each slice toward you.
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and pesto until smooth and well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture on the narrow end of each slice of eggplant and roll up, not too tightly, like a jelly roll. Set aside.
Heat the tomato sauce and spoon the sauce onto a rimmed serving platter. Arrange the eggplant rolls seam side down in the sauce and sprinkle with the oregano leaves.