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When the Grillin’ is Good

When the Grillin’ is Good

Summer means more grilled produce — and there’s so many ways to do it.

Have you ever met a chef who doesn’t light up when she sees the bounty that is summer produce? Visit any farmers market early morning when chefs shop and you can almost see the wheels spinning in their heads for how they’re going to prepare all those beautiful vegetables and fruit.

Grilling that produce can add smoke, caramelization, sweetness and so much more to a swath of dishes, whether to accompany fish or meat, added into a sauce, used in a dessert, mixed into a cocktail or beautifully used on their own in the center of the plate.

“Everything works well on the grill,” says Daria Parish, a former-chef-turned sales consultant at Reinhart Foodservice who works often with high-end, organic, vegan and vegetarian clients. “There’s nothing that doesn’t and I think some people are scared of that. It’s a matter of how you prepare it. As long as you cook it right, it can be amazing.”

As for how you prepare vegetables, keeping things simple and allowing the natural flavors to do their thing is often advised as adding too many seasonings or sauces can obscure the ultimate taste.

“I just usually use a bit of salt and pepper and sometimes toss them with a bit of olive oil so they don’t dry out,” says Ted Terio, a Reinhart Foodservice sales consultant based in Appleton, Wis. “If you put on more seasonings like cayenne, it draws away from the subtle smoke and natural flavor of the vegetable. Sometimes a restaurant can overly season something and that’s all you end up tasting.”

So, What Are Some Ways to Use Vegetables?

Parish and Terio offer these valuable tips:

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“I cut the heads in half, spray water inside and add salt, pepper and olive oil,” Parish says. “I cook the round side down so the water stays in the bulb, then turn it over and get grill marks. It turns soft, sweet and salty with a hint of licorice, and you can add it to a dish or use as a base for sauce.”

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Cook head cabbages on the grill, but wrap broccoli and cauliflower in foil.

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Skewer smaller ‘shrooms or place whole portobello or porcini caps directly on the grill.

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Root Vegetables

Cook at a low temperature of blanche first. Don’t grill on high heat to avoid burning.

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“It’s the only vegetable I’d marinate—in a salt solution with garlic and rosemary—before putting it on the grill. And leave the skin on,” Parish advises.

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