Healthy Cook

Grills Are for More Than Just Meat 


With Labor Day just ahead, some of us will be planning a party, and the grill will be center stage. That usually means thick steak, ribs, or pork chops. But don’t forget that vegetables can be the star attraction, too! Even fruit and special desserts can be prepared on the grill. This month we’re looking at alternative options for your grill. There are two kinds of grilling — direct and indirect. While both work for vegetables, we will focus on direct.

The best choices for vegetable grilling are corn, zucchini, carrots, asparagus, portobello mushrooms, bell peppers of all colors, onions, eggplant, artichokes, cauliflower, and broccoli.

The best fruits for grilling include peaches, melons, pineapple, pears, avocado, bananas, and figs. 

Grilling can be a bit of a challenge. First, vegetables and fruits should be cut into smaller pieces so more surface area touches the grill. Vegetables should be marinated or the grill brushed with olive oil. Fruit can go directly on the grill. Skewers help small pieces manage the grill without falling through. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for half an hour first.

In general, the denser the food, the longer it will take to cook: About 3  minutes for fruit, 5-7 minutes for less dense vegetables, 15-20 minutes for corn in a husk, and some sources call for 35-40 minutes for a halved large onion.

Grilled vegetables can also benefit from a sauce, and Food & Wine suggests sauces like green goddess, a vinaigrette, a walnut dressing, perhaps pesto or aioli, or something made with yogurt. A yogurt-mint sauce would be easy to whip up using Greek yogurt, some chopped mint, garlic, salt and pepper, and a bit of extra virgin olive oil, and whip.

So let’s start with a little bit of everything.

Grilled Mixed Vegetables
(Adapted from

Zucchini and yellow squash, 1 each cut into 1-inch half moons
Baby bella mushrooms, 10-oz cleaned and halved
Red onion, 1 large cut into wedges
Lemons, 2 medium cut into eighths
Garlic, 1 clove minced
Chopped thyme, oregano and rosemary, 1 teaspoon mixed
Olive oil, 3 tablespoons
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes, if desired

Using skewers (soak if wooden), thread with zucchini, squash, mushrooms, onions, lemon pieces, alternating
Whisk together olive oil and flavorings and brush over skewers, then season with salt and pepper to taste
Grill, turning periodically, for about 12-14 minutes on the grill preheated to medium-high. Serve immediately.

Grilled Corn on the Cob
(Adapted from

Corn, 6 ears
Butter, 6 tablespoons softened
Salt and pepper to taste

First, peel back the husks and remove silk. Place 1 tablespoon butter, along with salt and pepper to taste, on each piece of corn, close the husks, and wrap tightly individually in aluminum foil. Place on outdoor grill preheated to high and grate oiled. Cook, turning occasionally, about 30 minutes, or until tender. The grilled corn is best eaten immediately, but leftovers can be refrigerated in a ziplock bag and reheated in a 350F oven until warmed.

Grilled Fruit Ice Cream Sundaes
(Adapted from

Peach, 1 large, pitted, and cut into wedges
Pineapple, 1 fresh, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4-inch rings
Strawberries, 4 large, fresh, tops removed, and cut into halves
Raspberries, 8 fresh
Banana, 1 medium, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and crosswise
Brown sugar, 4 tablespoons firmly packed
Butter, 3 tablespoons melted
Cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground
Balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon
French vanilla ice cream, 3 cups
Caramel and/or chocolate syrup, as desired
Walnuts, finely chopped, as desired
Cooking spray for grill
Whipping cream or dairy topping of choice

Preheat grill for medium-low heat and spray grate and 8×8-inch piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Stir together melted butter with 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and cinnamon then brush banana, peaches, and pineapple with the mixture. Brush other fruits with balsamic vinegar and roll in the remaining tablespoon of brown sugar. On the grill, place banana, peaches, and pineapple and remove once grill marks develop. Keep warm. Place foil on the grill and add strawberries and raspberries, for 2 minutes on each side or until hot. Once fruits are ready, build a sundae with ice cream, fruits, syrup drizzle, then whipping cream. Top with chopped walnuts or nuts of choice, if desired.

Foil Pack Chocolate Marshmallow Banana
(Adapted from

Banana, 1 large, peeled, slit lengthwise 3/4 way through
Chocolate chips, 1 handful large
Mini marshmallows, 1 handful large

Take a piece of aluminum foil, place banana on it, and gently spread it apart. Fill with chocolate chips and marshmallows, wrap tightly in foil, and place over a hot grill for about 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and serve immediately.

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