One of our favorite things to do in the summer is to head to the local farm stands and load up on all the wonderful fresh produce that’s farm fresh and just loaded with flavor as compared to the same items found in the supermarket.
Of course, you’re thinking “Hey – wait a minute? Isn’t this blog about grilling?” Well, yes friends it is, and we’re going to show you what you can do with the combination of your grill, farm stand produce and of course … Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood Pellets.
Whether a rural farm stand or an urban weekend farmer’s market, right now you can find great produce packed with nutrients, flavor, texture and color to make your tables and plates bright and fresh. For all of these recipes, we’re recommending a medium heat in your grill – for an electronically –controlled pellet grill, 350 is the right number.
If cooking on charcoal, set your grill up for indirect cooking – coals only on one side of the grill. For a gas grill – set two burners on medium and shut off one to give you a cooler zone to work with. On gas and charcoal grills, use a smoke tube filled with Griller’s Gold pellets to give everything that good wood-cooked flavor.
Now let’s have some fun!
So many vegetables are fantastic when kissed with the grill. In every case, you’re looking for bright colors, clean shapes, and lack of insect damage. Don’t hesitate to ask the people manning the stand for advice on picking the best of what they have to offer.
We buy onions, sweet corn, peppers of all colors and types, romaine lettuce, green beans, squash, beets, portabella mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, escarole, arugula, carrots and of course, tomatoes. Any and all of these do great with as little cooking as a quick marking of grill marks from a hot grill, all the way to cooked down to soft (and generally sweet).
Here’s some great farm stand recipes to try. All of these assume that you’re going to wash your produce in advance!
Nothing is easier to grill than asparagus – the only rule to follow is to set it on the grill perpendicular to the way the grid runs. Bet you can figure out the “why” on that one!
Our favorite way to grill asparagus is to simply snap off the tough ends, then just drizzle with a bit of olive oil, roll it around to spread it evenly, then hit it with a touch of salt and pepper.
Put it on the grill (perpendicular!) and cook for about 8-10 minutes, rolling every 2 or 3 minutes to even out the brown. We like ours a bit crisper, so we go only 5-7 minutes depending on the size of the stalks.
For a nice variation on this theme, just drizzle with your favorite balsamic vinegar while it cooks – the vinegar will caramelize from the grill heat. A super easy method that’s also tasty is to toss it with a store-bought Italian salad dressing prior to grilling.
Yup, we said this! Lettuce, especially romaine, when gently/quickly grilled will get a sweet nutty flavor. The method is quite simple.
Buy compact heads of romaine, or if in the store, romaine hearts work great for this. Peel off any floppy/non-crisp leaves on the outside – we usually take off a full layer. (Save for salad or use as garnish if they look ok!) Cutting from the root end, split the heads in half, and then cut the heads in half again leaving a quarter of a romaine head. Holding them by the root end, give them a quick rinse in cold running water and then let them drain root end up in the sink. After they drain a bit, give them a vigorous shake to get out as much water as possible.
The grilling is simple – walk them out to your hot grill and put them on! For all grills, give your grate a quick spray with cooking spray or wipe with a cooking oil soaked paper towel or kitchen towel to keep things from sticking.
On gas and charcoal, you’re cooking with direct heat. Working quickly, put the romaine right on the grate, cut side down at an angle to the grate pattern – gives nice markings. Turn after 1 minute – so if you’re doing say 8 of them, by the time you get the last one on, the first one will need to turn. Turn to the next cut side and repeat with the others, again, 1 minute only, and that’s it.
Serve with a drizzle of your favorite Caesar dressing.
Here’s our quick favorite Caesar recipe: ½ cup of Mayo, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp worcestershire, ½ tsp red pepper hot sauce (optional) and 1 tsp anchovy paste (optional). Whisk together, then add ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, ¼ tsp salt and some grinds of fresh pepper. Fantastic! Also delicious with blue cheese dressing, crumbled blue cheese and bacon bits!
Grilled onions are a summer staple for us – a big slab on a burger, served as a side to a steak or chop, or even chopped after a gentle grilling and put in a salad, you can’t beat the sweetness that comes out from grilling. These also pick up the flavor beautifully from Griller’s Gold pellets in a wood pellet grill.
Prep: peel the outer skin off the onion and slice into ¼” to ½” thick slices. Brush with olive or cooking oil on both sides and place directly on the grill over direct heat. For just a light marking for having on a salad, cook about 2 minutes per side, then off. Let cool a touch and then cut the rings into quarters and toss with the salad.
For a burger or as a steak side, let cook a bit longer – 3-4 minutes a side – then move onto the indirect heat (on a gas or charcoal grill) and let cook about 4 more minutes. A light sprinkling of salt or seasoned salt will really “pop” the sweetness on these.
Grilled roasted tomatoes are madly good and could not be easier. Using Griller’s Gold hardwood pellets in a pellet grill will give them a great woodsy flavor. Just about any variety works, but we like doing this with Roma tomatoes.
This is super easy for prep – give the tomatoes a quick wash, then cut in half lengthwise. Drizzle the cut sides with a bit of olive oil and put the tomatoes cut side down on the direct side of a medium heat grill. Leave them cut side down for about 3 minutes to mark and caramelize them then flip them skin side down and roast another 8-10 minutes until soft and hot all the way through. Sprinkle with some coarse kosher salt and a grind of pepper, and for an extra touch top with some snipped basil leaves and thyme. Serve hot off the grill as a side with a steak, chop or fish, OR (and even better), cool and chop and use to make salsa. So good!
Colorful Grilled Peppers – So Good!
Red, green, yellow and orange bell peppers are fantastic when grilled – you can serve them hot as a side dish or let cool and serve as a side, a topping or in a salad.
Again, simple prep – cut the flesh into strips (we like them about an inch wide), put on the grill, turn every 2 minutes until done – over direct heat. We also love cooking the mini multi-colored peppers whole in the same way.
Nothing better than fresh farmed jalapenos – fire, flavor, heat! To make delicious poppers, use medium sized jalapenos (about 3” long).
Prep: Put on gloves! Cut the top off, then cut down one side and around the bottom to be able to open up the pepper. Scrape out all the seeds and white ribs – that’s where the majority of the heat is (and if you want to leave a few at “screaming hot”, leave some in!).
Mix up equal amounts of cream cheese and shredded mild cheddar, then put a dollop in each pepper and close it around the cheese. Wrap each pepper with a strip of bacon, and secure with a toothpick. As you do this, cover the open end with the end of the bacon – this keeps the cheese in. Cook over direct heat turning frequently until the bacon is cooked and the pepper is tender.
A super easy way to enjoy the grilled veggie flavor is to cut up a bunch of different veggies and put them in a big bowl, toss with some oil and a bit of balsamic, then dump into either a big roasting pan (foil disposable is fine unless you have one you’re ok with putting on the grill) a specially-designed grilling basket, or a big cast iron skillet.
For this we like a mix of bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini and onions – good additions are asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower.
Preheat the pan on the grill for a few minutes before adding the veggies. Cook them over direct heat, tossing them about every 4 or 5 minutes until they are your desired doneness. Broccoli and Cauliflower are also great this way on their own – cut up a mix of one, the other or both, toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil then roast. Finish with a gentle sprinkle of your favorite seasoned salt – a smoked salt is especially tasty with this.
There is nothing better than an ear of freshly picked sweet corn roasted on the grill. For the best results, get corn that was picked the same day or worst case, within a day. Holding and refrigeration are the enemies of sweet corn – the sugars rapidly turn to starches. It’s that milky sweetness and snap of the kernels that you want and that comes from freshness. Be sure to ask the purveyor when it was picked.
Our favorite way to grill it is to simply pull the husks back just enough to allow pulling out of most of the silk then push the husks back into place. Heat your grill to medium direct heat. Put the corn directly on the grill (using direct heat) and turn the ears ⅓ turn every 3-4 minutes. They are perfect in 9-12 minutes when you’re on medium direct heat. Shuck and enjoy with your favorite toppings – just butter; butter, salt and pepper; butter and Old Bay seasoning; or our fave, Elote style with mayonnaise, Elote seasoning (Try the one at Trader Joe’s!) and a squeeze of lime juice. Fantastic!
Farm Stands are a bounty of amazing goodness in the summer and are natural companions to your grill. Head out, get some of the earth’s bounty, fire up that grill and enjoy!
If you don’t have a farm stand nearby, remember, you can always barbecue with what you’ve got.
Until next time!