Summer is the easiest time of year to enjoy vegetables and fruit. Even so, most Americans fall far short of the recommended daily amount we should be eating. As recently as 2012, only one in three adults had two or more daily fruit servings and even fewer (26%) had that many veggie servings. And that count of veggies included potatoes! When you consider that the American Heart Association recommends a minimum of eight daily servings of fruits and vegetables, those statistics are even more, well, disheartening.
While you’re firing up the grill this season, consider how easy and satisfying it is to add veggies, and even fruit, to the barbeque. Try putting chunks of vegetables and fruits on skewers, or cooking them on a grill topper that will keep them from falling through the grids. You only need to brush the food with a little vegetable oil (not olive oil, which will burn), or try the recipe below for something only slightly more elaborate. Consider also grilling whole, fresh figs – put them on a skewer – for a delicious caramelized flavor. Stone fruit such as peaches and nectarines also take well to the grill; just cut them in half and remove the pit, but keep the peel on.
Recipe: Mixed Vegetable and Fruit Grill
½ pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 large red or yellow pepper, cut into 4 chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into quarters lengthwise
2 medium bananas, unpeeled and sliced in half lengthwise
For the vegetables:
¼ cup canola oil
1-2 T honey
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
For the fruit:
¼ cup rum
2 T brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, honey, vinegar, oregano and seasonings. Pour most of the marinade into a large resealable plastic bag. Add asparagus, pepper, zucchini and onion; seal bag and turn over to coat the veggies. Marinate about an hour at room temperature.
Transfer veggies to a grilling grid; place grid on preheated grill rack. Close the grill lid and cook over medium heat about 8-10 minutes, until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.
Once you have placed the veggies on the grill, brush pineapple and banana pieces with the brown sugar mixture and place on the outside of the grill alongside the vegetables. Close the grill lid and cook with the veggies. Watch carefully and turn pineapple as needed; the banana should go skin down and not be turned (it most likely will be done first).
Remove food to a platter as each piece becomes done, keeping veggies to one side and fruit to another. Drizzle remaining marinade over the veggies and brush fruit with any remaining brown sugar mix. Serve warm or at room temperature. (You can cover with foil to keep warm while you cook any meat, poultry or fish that you also want to serve at this meal.)