Warm peaches with melted butter and brown sugar. Grilled watermelon and feta salad. Marinated Parmesan zucchini. Veggies on a skewer. Grilled fruit salad. Locals share some of their favorite lighter grilling fare, proving that summertime grilling can be just as tasty when meat isn’t invited to the char party.
A new twist on a grilled cheese; watermelon salad
— Michael Warren, owner of Crush Kitchen
Before he discovered a deep love for pork, Crush Kitchen owner Michael Warren was a vegetarian for 21 years. That gave the culinary enthusiast time to test some of his favorite foods on the grill.
Though he is no longer a vegetarian, one of his favorite things to grill is still a vegetarian sandwich he calls a Halloumi Napoleon, which he makes by grilling a slice of Halloumi cheese.
“The Halloumi cheese is an incredible grilling cheese,” he said.
It appears on Crush’s everchanging menu occasionally, but you can recreate it at home.
What you need: Halloumi cheese, hearty Ciabatta bread, grilling vegetables (Warren prefers fennel, red bell peppers, zucchini and red onion), a good pesto (Warren uses his homemade pesto, but he says pre-made pestos are good from both Costco and Trader Joe’s ).
What to do: Grill the Ciabatta bread, then slather with pesto. Layer the vegetables on the bread, and again, slather each layer of vegetables with the pesto. Add the grilled Halloumi cheese. When it is complete, top with a dab of pesto, truffle oil and black sea salt.
“It is fantastic,” Warren said.
Grilled watermelon salad
Warren enjoys a grilled watermelon salad on a bed of arugula and homemade jalepeno vinaigrette.
For the watermelon: Find a watermelon that is not quite ripe. Slice it, leaving the rind on. Rub with a little olive oil and grill for about 45 seconds on each side, allowing the sugars to surface.
For the salad: Lay a bed of arugula, feta cheese, red onion and add the watermelon. Top with a homemade vinaigrette: Two cups of seasoned rice wine vinegar, 1⁄2 cup of sugar, one whole jalapeno and a sliver of fresh ginger cooked in a pot on low and simmered for an hour.
Grilled fruit salad with natural apricot marmalade
— CHIP Chef Marc Gabrys
Marc Gabrys makes this warm fruit salad for friends and family during the summer.
What you need: Firm types of fruit, like pineapple, apples and peaches. Also: an apricot for a sauce.
What to do: Grill up your favorite firm fruits and chop them into bite-size pieces. Add the grilled apricot to the mixture after it has become so soft it can act as a marmalade.
Treat yourself to warm, sweet peaches
— Joe Johnson, Lodi
With peaches in season, it’s a perfect time to make this sweet treat the next time you turn on the barbecue.
What you need: A spoon of butter for each peach half, brown sugar and, of course, peaches.
What you do: Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. Spoon the butter in the center and sprinkle brown sugar over the top and center of the peach. Place on the grill (skin side on the grill) until they get warm and the butter melts.
Grilling is for meat, but sometimes its for asparagus, too
— Joe Silva Jr.
Lighting up the Q without burning some meat is akin to taking a swim in a waterless pool.
That said, I love to paint olive oil onto fresh asparagus spears with a sprinkling of cracked pepper and sea salt. We have also been Q’ing up sweet corn in the husk. Cook it slowly on low heat, turning often until the husks are pretty well burnt all around.
Our family lives in the backyard during summer. The BBQ and Camp Chef cooktop get used every night. However, no veggies go into my Q without some sizzling meat right next to them.
Quick and flavorful vegetable kabobs
— Amanda Sarisky
Mix together two cloves of chopped garlic, 1⁄4 cup olive oil, 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar and a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Use any chopped vegetables you like — I used zucchini, mushrooms, red and green bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes and sliced potatoes. Oil and toss them. Skewer the veggies onto pre-soaked wooden kabob sticks and grill 10 minutes on each side. Eat and enjoy!
Garden zucchinis, pattypans grilled with lemon and Parmesan cheese
— Fred Nelson, Herald
Garden overflowing with summer squash? Make this dish to serve as an appetizer or pair with any meal.
What you need: About 2 1⁄2 pounds of squash, one stick of butter, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, Parmesan cheese (amount will vary).
What to do: Preheat barbecue to low to medium heat. Meanwhile, slice zucchinis longwise, no more than 3⁄8-to-1⁄2 inch thick. Slice pattypans in half. In a pan, heat butter until it’s melted, and add seasonings. Brush both sides of spears with marinade.
Grill squash for 15 minutes, or until they start to get dark. Then top with a good layer of cheese. Let the cheese melt slightly. Serve immediately.
Teriyaki-marinated tofu topped with a savory reduction sauce
— Jo Nelson, Acampo
Want to start meatless grilling with something heartier than garden veggies? Tofu is a versatile grilling food. In this recipe, the tofu (the key is to buy extra firm) takes on the flavors of the ingredients, from the sweet teriyaki to the honey and ginger root.
What you will need:
16 ounces extra firm tofu
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 -2 teaspoon ginger root, peeled and grated, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 -3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
What to do:
Coat grill rack thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium (300° to 350 ° F). Cut tofu into slices 1⁄2-inch thick. Place slices in a single layer in a shallow glass dish.
In a bowl combine teriyaki sauce, honey, oil, garlic, ginger and salt and pepper to taste. Pour teriyaki mixture over tofu and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
After removing the tofu from the marinade, place the leftover marinade into a sauce pan. Cook over high heat until boiling. Boil marinade until reduced and slightly thick. Turn down heat to very low and start grilling the tofu.
Grill tofu 5-6 minutes per side, turning gently, until lightly charred and heated through, being careful not to let tofu overcook. Remove from grill. Drizzle reduced marinade over grilled tofu. Sprinkle with green onions and red pepper flakes. Serve at once.
Adapted from Food Network.
Eaten by itself, served a la mode or in a savory salad, grilled pineapple is a grilling crowd pleaser. Start by slicing the pineapple in half, lengthwise. Cut into wedges, and then slice the prickly edge off. When you’re done, you’ll have spears that are ready to grill. Cook on low-to-medium heat until you see those grill marks on the golden fruit.