Serious Eats has been hanging 'round the grill with chef Michael Symon and Bank of America this summer. So far, he's cooked up some tasty chicken and put a nice sear on a few cuts of beef. But summertime grilling isn't just about the meats & mash; it's also the perfect opportunity to take advantage of this season's produce. "I do plenty of vegetables and sides when I barbecue," Michael told us. "My son is a vegetarian and he always leaves very, very happy."
When talking vegetables for the grill, the first thing that likely comes to mind is skewers threaded with brightly colored bell peppers or shards of red onion. And while alternating your veg with chunks of meat may seem like a great way to cook everything in one swoop, you can do better. "A common mistake is mixing together your meat skewers and your vegetables," Michael explains. "Don't try to mix one onto the other. The vegetables cook quickly while the meats take longer. So just keep them separate and you'll get a nice even char."
Michael also has some brilliant suggestions for getting creative with your produce. "Most root vegetables grill well," he points out. "I love grilling beets. They're sugary, they caramelize well, and they play really nicely off the smoke." Looking to really wow your guests? Michael suggests putting a whole pizza on the grill, loaded with chopped veggies: "I grill pizzas all the time. You can do it on a stone or straight on the grill. But make sure to have one spot with high heat and an indirect spot, too, so you can move it over before you're melting everything."
While you've got the fire still going, feel free to throw on a few pieces of fruit for dessert. Michael goes for stone fruits, like peaches, which are at their peak in the summer. "I love to rub them in a mixture of honey and olive oil, which creates a great caramelization," he says. "The heat also raises up the sweetness of the fruit. Serve it with a little bit of vanilla bean ice cream and you're off!"
Curious to know the one thing Michael doesn't like to put on the grill? "I am not a fan of veggie burgers at all," he reveals. "Grilled vegetables are just much more nutritious and better for you."
Feeling inspired? Whether you're doing a few meat-free sides or creating a vegetarian backyard feast, make sure to show us how you grill your veg using #123BBQ