If you’re looking for something lighter, healthier and tastier than typical grilled fare, then think about cooking up a salad on the grill. You heard us right: We’re talking about grilled salads. Not only can you cook the obvious chicken breast or steak for your salad, but the grill also does wonders with veggies, fruits and even sturdy lettuces. Here are our top tips to make sure all your grilled salads sizzle.
Choose the best veggies to grill
Any vegetable you like to oven-roast is a good candidate for the grill. Think: onions, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, fennel and asparagus. They’re all even tastier when grilled, as it imparts a delicious, smoky taste.
Gather your ingredients on baking sheets for easy transport to the grill. Don’t forget tongs, a kitchen timer and a clean plate for cooked meat. Reusing a plate you used to transport raw meat out to the grill could cause you to get sick, so be sure to use a clean one.
Oil up the grill
To keep food from sticking, oil a paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub on the preheated grill rack. Don’t use cooking spray on a hot grill; it could cause a flare-up. To prep veggies for the grill, toss them with oil so they brown nicely and don’t dry out.
Avoid burning by timing it perfectly
Denser vegetables like potatoes take longer to cook, while lettuce and other more delicate veggies will cook within minutes. Cut potatoes into thin, even slices; grill slices until marked on both sides; then reduce heat (or move them to a cooler part of the grill) and cook until tender.
Don’t be afraid to grill your greens
Try grilling sturdy greens like romaine and escarole. A few minutes on the grates renders them delightfully smoky and pleasantly wilted.
Skewers help smaller items like cherry tomatoes to stay on the grill and not fall through the grate to the fire below. Don’t bother soaking wooden skewers to prevent them from burning — we’ve tested this and they still burn. Wrap exposed ends of wooden skewers in foil to keep them singe-free, or use metal skewers. Metal skewers are typically easier to thread sturdy vegetables onto as well, as they’re less likely to break.
Try a grill basket
A grill basket is also a great alternative for small vegetables that you would otherwise have to skewer. Just toss mushrooms or onion slices into the basket and stir occasionally until done.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)
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Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.