One of the best things about warmer weather is that we get to spend more time basking in it! There’s no better place to work, play or relax than under the sunshine. So why go inside to prepare dinner and slave away over the stove? Instead, fire up with grill with a variety of tasty seasonal veggies (and fruits!) your family will drool over.
Grilled produce tastes amazing, it’s easy to prepare and is a great substitution for animal proteins for those cutting down on meat consumption or following a plant-based diet.
If you’re looking for more creative ways to consume plants, you have to try our top five versatile veggies below:
Zucchini is in season all year, but it’s at its peak (meaning it’s the freshest) during the summer months. It’s a great source of potassium and is super high in vitamin C. This squash is an easy-to-digest source of fiber and just hearty enough to throw on the grill without being fussy to deal with.
How to grill: Slice in halves, strips, cubes or rounds. Small strips or rounds can take up to five minutes to cook. If sliced into halves or thick cubes, cook for up to six minutes.
Try it: Lemon-Basil Grilled Zucchini
Mushrooms obtain an incredible smoky flavor when grilled. We love piling them on top of grilled tempeh burgers. Mushrooms are in season all year and easy to find in the produce section. They’re a great source of antioxidants, and many types of mushrooms contain small amounts of vitamin D since they obtain this vitamin from the sun during growth.
How to grill: Large Portobello mushrooms are the best mushrooms to grill, especially if you’re looking for a plant-based option for burgers, wraps and sandwiches. You can also grill button mushrooms, either whole or cut them into slices to enjoy on veggie skewers. Mushrooms grill up pretty fast whether in large or small pieces. If grilling larger mushrooms, grill for five minutes max. Smaller strips or cuts will grill in 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Yellow squash
Yellow squash is typically freshest during May, June, July and August. It’s a classic summer veggie to grill because it’s hardy, versatile and simply tastes delicious. Like zucchini, yellow squash is also high in vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6 making it a great addition to your diet during the summertime months.
How to grill: Yellow Squash can be grilled in layers and taste great wrapped romaine leaves with other grilled veggies for a veggie taco. Or you can grill it in circles or strips for faux fried chips or fries. If cut into small strips or rounds, grill for 3 to 5 minutes. If sliced into halves or thick cubes cook up to six minutes.
4. Sweet Potatoes
For starters, sweet potatoes are healthier when grilled versus tossed in oil, fried or even baked at high temps. Grilling sweet potatoes naturally enhances their sweetness and improves flavor without the need for oil or lots of salt. Sweet potatoes are also incredibly rich in vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, beta-carotene and magnesium making them a nutrient-dense alternative to white potato fries.
How to grill: Grill in rounds, wedges, strips or even halves. No matter how you grill sweet potatoes, you’ll love their flavor and variety. Be sure to wash well and leave on the skin (they’re a great source of fiber!). You can also grill them whole like corn, but they do take much longer that way and should be wrapped in foil. If you go this route, adjust the cooking time by their size. Small sweet potatoes grill whole in around 15 minutes while larger ones can take up to 20 minutes.
Sweet potatoes halves take around 8 to 10 minutes, while rounds, cubes or strips take between four and six minutes.
Try it: Thinly slice sweet potatoes into rounds. Place in bowl and mix with freshly squeezed lemon, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, paprika and sea salt. Transfer to foil and wrap loosely. Grill until potatoes are soft.
Asparagus is high in protein serving up 4 grams per cup! This veggie is also rich in folate (an important B vitamin) and an excellent source of prebiotic fiber and vitamin C.
How to grill: Chop asparagus into pieces and grill before tossing onto a large salad with cooked lentils. You can also wrap it up in romaine leaves or collard greens before grilling for a tasty veggie wrap to dip in your favorite sauce or dressing. It only takes 3 to 4 minutes to grill whole or chopped asparagus. You can use frozen as well.
Additional veggies to grill
If you’re looking to increase your plant intake, don’t stop with the five veggies mentioned above. Here are more delicious fruits and veggies that are excellent for grilling:
- Beet rounds
- Chopped onions
- Tomatoes (whole, sliced or grape tomatoes)
- Peppers (strips or halves)
- Romaine hearts
- Cauliflower steaks
- Fennel bulbs (whole or sliced)
- Bok choy (whole or sliced)
- Gold and red potatoes
- Artichoke hearts (halves or whole hearts)
- Corn (whole, wrapped in foil)
- Avocado halves
- Mango halves
What about seasonings?
Plain fruits and veggies offer huge bursts of flavor when grilled thanks to caramelization, which brings out natural sugars. But if you’re into spice and zesty seasonings, there are plenty of healthy options that you can sprinkle on top if you desire.