Edible gardens are one of the hottest trends in gardening today. What makes a hot trend hotter? Why fire, of course. So as summer heats up, forget the boring salads and heat up the grill for some flavor-boosted ways to make the most of your edible garden. Following are a variety of fruit and vegetable ideas to add to your grilling repertoire for delicious additions to your summer meals.
Grilled lettuce drizzled with olive oil and lemon and topped with manchego cheese and bacon crumbles. (photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo)
Lettuce: I know what you’re thinking…grilled lettuce?! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Grilling lettuce creates smokey, charred, caramelized goodness. Recipes abound for this latest craze. For best results, be sure to choose a sturdy lettuce and brush the grill with olive oil.
Corn: Grilling corn can be done multiple ways. You can wrap it in foil. You can leave it in its husks. However, how about laying it on the grill bare? Doing this will ensure that your corn will have tiny and delicious charred bits. Once you finish grilling the corn, bust out the butter and lather it on as you please.
Asparagus: Fun fact: grilled asparagus cures sadness. Okay, that may not be completely true, but grilled asparagus makes a truly delicious addition to any meal. To protect your sanity, however, use a mesh tray or grill basket for this task. If you want to up your asparagus game even more, make your own garlic and rosemary aioli sauce for basting or dressing your freshly grilled asparagus. You’re welcome.
Grilled bell peppers, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and topped with goat cheese and basil. (photo by Beth Dreiling)
Bell Pepper: No matter what color, they all taste better on the grill. The cool thing about bell peppers is that they are extremely versatile. Whether part of a shish kabob, stuffed with just about anything, or simply tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette, roasting a bell pepper over a fire brings out a sweetness that enhances any dish.
Jalapeno Peppers: The bell pepper’s zesty cousin, these little fellows kick everything up a notch. If properly de-seeded and de-veined, roasting jalapenos will mellow their intensity. Stuff them with a variety of cheeses or other ingredients and either wrap them in foil or use a special roasting rack. For extra fun, wrap them in bacon, ’cause bacon makes everything better!
Grilled eggplant and tomato salad drizzled with lemony vinaigrette and topped with fresh mint. (photo by Iain Bagwell)
Eggplant: If you like eggplant parmesan, you’ll fall in love with grilled eggplant. The awesome thing about eggplant is that it will really soak up the flavor of bastes or marinades. So go to your local gourmet oil and vinegar store, do a little online shopping, or use herbs from your garden to make your own infused oils and vinegars and experiment with different flavor combinations. The same is true for a variety of squashes.
Tomatoes: You may argue about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, but you won’t argue about how good it tastes grilled. For best results, choose firmer tomatoes, cut thick slices, and brush the grill with olive oil. For added flavor, top with your favorite fresh herb.
Grilled watermelon with blue cheese, basil and prosciutto. (photo by Jennifer Davick)
Watermelon: Grilling watermelon? This must be a typo. Before you judge, try it yourself and see why this summer will be the summer of grilled watermelon. You can grill with or without the rind on it. When grilled, the fruit sugars caramelize to create a unique flavor. Feel free to add balsamic vinegar or arugula for an extra flare. Just make sure to keep a close eye on it, for the water can spew and potentially burn you when exposed to so much heat.
Apples: Now for an actual fact: apple pie is an American classic. What happens to the apples during the making of apple pie? That’s right, they are cooked. Now use that logic, and apply it to the grill. The grill will both sweeten and soften your apples for a most excellent treat. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg for that apple pie flavor.
Peaches: Surely you will be enjoying ice cream this summer. Now that you’ve discovered the beauty of grilled fruit, throw some peaches on the grill, then add them to your summer ice cream. Sweet and delicious ice cream plus sweet and delicious peaches, what can go wrong?
Jerk chicken with grilled pineapple salsa. (photo by Hector Sanchez)
Pineapple: Unless you live in Hawaii, it’s unlikely you’ll have any pineapples in your edible garden, but they’re so amazing on the grill, it’s worth a trip to the grocery. Whether served as a side dish or as a hamburger topping, once you try it grilled, you’ll never want pineapple any other way.
Bananas: Again, not your typical grow-at-home fruit, but makes an incredible dessert. Place it directly on the grill with the skin on. Once the skin is brown and the banana is soft, slice it open, sprinkle with cinnamon, and top with condensed milk. Voila!
Images Courtesy Time Inc.