THE GRILL-FRIENDS GUIDE: ZUCCHINI, EGGPLANT, ONIONS, PEPPERS, MUSHROOMS AND CORN

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If you have a grill that you’ve been ignoring all winter, it’s time to re-kindle that relationship… because if you want to blaze a trail to skinny this summer, you need your grill friends.

Zucchini, eggplant, onions, squash, you name it…if it grows, it can probably be grilled.

So next time you fire up the BBQ, don’t forget your grill friends!

 

BASIC GRILLED ZUCCHINI

Preheat your grill on high while you toss some zucchini, sliced lengthwise, with herbs, salt and pepper.  After your grill is hot, turn the heat down to medium and use a clean dishrag to wipe the grates with a little canola or grape-seed oil so the veggies won’t stick.  (You’re NOT going to add olive oil directly to the veg before it cooks because the high heat tends to turn it bitter.) Close the lid and let them cook until the underside has nice markings, about 6-8 minutes depending on how hot your grill is. Flip and cook, lid closed, a few minutes more. Remove to a platter and squeeze with fresh lemon and drizzle with just 1 teaspoon of good olive oil. As it cools, it will release its own moisture and won’t look so dry.

BASIC GRILLED EGGPLANT

Just like zucchini, season sliced, unpeeled, eggplant, and grill on medium heat until a bit soft and nicely marked on both sides. Remove to a platter and toss with Sherry Vinegar and 1 t. of good olive oil.  Add a shower of fresh basil, thyme or oregano if you like.

 

BASIC GRILLED ONIONS, PEPPERS AND MUSHROOMS

I always cook these vegetables together because they make such a gorgeous tray. To make it easy, get a giant bowl and prep them together.

For the Onion: Leaving just a little bit of the root end attached, cut red onions into 4 or 8 wedges (depending on the size of the onion) and then separate the wedges so there are only about 3 or4 “petals” of onion still held together by the root. Toss in a big bowl and season with salt, pepper and herbs.

For the Peppers: Cut any bell peppers you like–red, green, orange or yellow–into lengthwise quarters.  Toss in the bowl and season.

For the Mushrooms: Try mixing different sizes and types if you can, and season the whole big batch with salt, pepper, and herbs and toss in the big bowl

You can cook everything up now or let sit for up to 4 hours in a cool place while you do other things. When it’s time to grill, wipe grates with oil and throw onions and peppers on and close the lid. (You can wait a bit before adding mushrooms, they take less time.)  After about 10 minutes, start watching closely and pulling the pieces that get done quickest. 15 minutes in, all should be ready.

Sprinkle mushrooms and onions with balsamic and drizzle all with just 1 teaspoon of good olive oil.

BASIC GRILLED CORN

I do corn 2 ways on the grill… husked and not.  (Most people prefer to eat the already peeled corn, but I think the un-husked ears look cool on the serving platter.)

For the un-husked corn, make sure the husk is clean and wet, toss it on a medium to medium low grill and close the lid. Roll it around now and then and cook for about 20-30 minutes.

For the husked corn,  break those ears in half before grilling. (You tend to eat a whole ear if it’s on your plate. If it’s just a half, you save 75 calories.)  Toss it onto the grill on medium heat and close the lid. Roll it around now and then so it cooks evenly. After about 8-10 minutes, it should be nicely charred in some places and tender everywhere else. Pull it from the heat and put on a serving plate. You can roll it in a bit of Smart Balance Light butter spread or give it a scant shower of finely grated Parmesan cheese and herbs if you’re feeling fancy.

GRILLED ASPARAGUS

If the stalks are young and slender, no peeling is needed but, if stalks are thick, peel the outer skin. For either, snap off the dry end. It will naturally come apart where the brittle meets the tender.

Season with salt and pepper.

Put them on the hot grill, moving them around now and again. Pull from the grill when color is bright green but a few grill marks are visible, about 4 minutes for thin stalks, 8 for the very thick. Pull them and platter them. Drizzle with lemon and a scant bit of Parmesan if you like.

OTHER GRILLED VEG:

Now that you know the basics, use that grill to cook up any veg you have. Using the Roasted Veg Recipes, you can do Purple potatoes or Yams sliced or in wedges. You can do Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame Seeds. You can Make Baby Artichokes Al Greco.  You can make Grilled Acorn Squash or Chinese Long Beans.  You can even grill softer vegetables like  Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Bok Choy or Radicchio.

As long as you have a grill, a temperate evening,  and fresh veg, you can cook anything outside. It will not only make you skinny that night, the “inventory” will keep you skinny for days to come.

RE-USE, RE-PURPOSE, RE-CYCLE

A big container of grilled veg in the fridge means super skinny eating for days to come…

Use those veg to make an Egg and Veg Bagel, a Garden Omelet, or a Skinny Crostini.

Or put them on top of greens and make a grilled vegetable salad.  If you add a bit of shrimp, you have a Low Meat Main dish for dinner!

About Lisa McRee

After 25 years as a local and network anchor, Lisa was just another American mother struggling, and failing, to lose weight. Finally, she cracked the code, and lost 30 pounds, quickly and for good, by doing what she loves: reporting, cooking and eating! The Skinny is the inside story on how she did it, and how you can, too!
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