Grow, Pick, Grill
Making the Most of Summer’s BountyIn outdoor spaces from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Arch Cape, Oregon, produce is growing and grill embers are glowing. Growing a garden and grilling its bounty have never been more popular.
For the first time since 1944, when 20 million “Victory” gardeners produced 44 percent of the fresh vegetables in the United States, food gardening is outdistancing flower gardening. In its latest survey of garden retailers, the National Gardening Association found that consumers’ spending for growing their own food hit $2.7 billion, versus $2.1 billion for flowers.
Barbecuing grill chefs are expanding their repertoire beyond grass-fed burgers and steaks. More vegetables and fruit are being grilled now than in the past, according to the latest annual survey by leading grill manufacturer Weber.
This all makes sense to Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, co-authors of The Gardener & the Grill. They’ve observed that when the bounty of the garden meets the sizzle of the grill, delicious things happen. “Natural sugars in vegetables and fruits caramelize,” says Adler. “Essential oils in fresh herbs become more aromatic. The colors of fruits and vegetables stay more vivid when grilled, rather than when cooked any other way.”
“Grilling gives even familiar foods an exciting new makeover,” notes Fertig. For example, by cutting a head of cabbage into quarters, brushing each cut side with olive oil and then grilling and chopping, the backyard chef infuses a grill flavor into a favorite coleslaw. Flatbreads, patted out from prepared whole-grain or gluten-free pizza dough, can be brushed with olive oil, grilled on both sides and then topped with flavorful garden goodies. Simple fruits like peaches and plums—simply sliced in half, pitted and grilled—yield fresh taste sensations, especially cradling a scoop of frozen yogurt.
A quick foray to the garden or farmers’ market can provide just the right colorful, flavorful edge to any summer barbecue.
- Long-handled grill tongs and a spatula help the cook handle foods on the grill like a pro.
- Barbecue mitts protect hands and arms from the heat.
- A perforated grill rack, akin to a cookie sheet with holes, placed directly on the grill grates, keeps smaller vegetables and tender fish fillets from falling through.
- A grill wok is perfect for stir-grilling foods outdoors, a complement to indoor stir-frying.
- A sturdy, stiff, grill brush makes short work of cleaning the grill grates after each use.