- Tasteful Entertaining
By Dylan Bailey, MS
With summer entertaining in full swing, chances are grilling has a special place in your summer routine. After all, it has held a special place in many peoples’ lives for upwards of 700,000 years – ever since the discovery of fire. When we think about some of the grilling staples, the menu often looks familiar and limited to include: burgers, hot dogs and chicken. Maybe a lone corn on the cob makes it to the heat, too.
At Libby’s®, we’d like to challenge you to explore and experiment with the grill as the wonderfully transformative cooking tool it truly is. Tasty things can happen when we add flame to foods you may have not considered “grillable” before. Grilling also provides access to satisfying, nutritious and unique recipes that are simple to prepare. So, let’s rethink what can and should be grilled – here’s your summer guide to grilling fruits and vegetables.
Aside from fruits and vegetables being calorie-conscious foods packed with fiber, protective antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals, grilling them in all their forms - including canned - completely changes their taste, texture and appearance – for the better!
When we grill almost anything, the browning or darkening that follows is caused by a process with a specific name. It’s called the Maillard reaction, and it contributes to those smoky, savory and juicy notes found in grilled foods. This complex reaction is a wonderful piece of food science to understand so you can wow your guests at your next BBQ. At a basic level, the reaction happens when proteins and sugars in a food interact with heat. Use the Maillard reaction to your advantage this summer.
Here are some basic tips and recipes to help you command summertime entertaining with grilled fruits and vegetables:
Clean Your Grill
- Whether gas or charcoal, a clean grill makes for happy cooking. Here are 4 simple tips to follow for a clean grill.
Heat It Up
- Fruits and vegetables can stick to your grill grate if not properly prepared. A hot grill really minimizes the chance for sticking, so be sure to heat it to medium-high ahead of time (for at least 10-15 minutes) before setting it to the instructed cooking heat for your recipe.
Choose Your Fats
- Fats that are neutral-tasting and can tolerate high-heat, including safflower oil or grapeseed oil, are great choices for grilling fruits and vegetables. High-temperature, specially formulated no-stick cooking spray for grilling can also work in this instance.
Let ‘Em Sit and Watch Your Heat
- You may be tempted to turn, poke and prod but let your fruits and vegetables sit before looking for those illustrious grill marks. This also allows the Maillard reaction to work its full magic. Watch your flames too, so you can move your items to indirect heat if you notice them creeping higher.
A Summertime Salad to Start
The combination of grilled beets and peaches lends a smoky aroma to this savory and sweet Grilled Beets and Peaches Spinach Salad. If you or those you’re serving tend to like their spinach firm and raw, ensure to serve this salad immediately so the freshly cooked beets and peaches do not wilt the spinach.
Did You Know: Peaches are grown commercially in 28 states.
Packing in the Flavor
When we think about incorporating fruits and vegetables into grilled dishes, there are some fun ways to use these products that don’t necessarily require grilling them directly. For example, Grilled Bean and Veggie Cheese Quesadillas highlight the sweetness of corn mixed with beans and flavorful spices to nicely complement the slightly charred flavor of the grilled quesadilla. This recipe is simple and requires minimal preparation—just mix your beans, vegetables and spices and sprinkle over your tortillas along with the cheese, then let the grill do the work.
Did You Know: Heating tortillas directly over the flame is the best way to warm them and gives your tacos and quesadillas an authentically charred flavor.
Rain, Rain Go Away – Grilling Dessert Indoors
Another staple of summertime are pop-up showers and storms, which can cancel your outdoor grilling plans all together. Don’t allow summer storms to sour the sweetest part of the meal, dessert. With a nonstick stovetop grill pan you can still get the benefits of grilling outdoors with a 0% chance of rain! Here’s a recipe for Grilled Apricots with Yogurt, Honey & Pistachio that’s the perfect sweet treat for the end of your meal. Grilling caramelizes sugars in the apricots and can release additional juices in the fruit, which provide a nice complexity when paired with a creamy yogurt and sweet honey.
Did You Know: An apricot tree can produce fruit for 25 years.
For more delicious recipes, visit Libby’s® Recipe Box.