If the grill had a hierarchy of vegetable royalty, corn would be king. Rest assured, there will be plenty of grilled corn-related recipes later in the summer, when our local crop begins to show up in the markets.
But why wait for corn season to start grilling produce? There are all kinds of vegetables that benefit from the smoke and char you can get only from outdoor grilling.
While there are plenty of vegetable options, tossing several types of vegetables willy nilly onto the grill, as if they will all cook in the same manner, is misguided.
Different vegetables cook differently. For instance, asparagus takes only a moment to grill, while peppers will take much longer.
Although it may seem like too much effort to grill your vegetables separately, if you do you’ll be rewarded with summer squash that’s slightly charred without turning mushy, sitting alongside mushrooms that are dense with flavor, having had the time on the grill to lose much of their excess moisture.
You’ll also be rewarded with a stunning centerpiece of a vegetable platter that will wow any crowd sitting around your dinner table, making it a great option for entertaining.
Another plus is that grilled vegetables taste great at room temperature, making it possible to grill them an hour or two beforehand, leaving you free to attend to any other last-minute dishes.
I serve a large assortment of grilled vegetables with homemade aioli, which is mayo’s rich, garlicky cousin. Making your own aioli may seem daunting as, like mayonnaise, you must drizzle oil into eggs very slowing, with the blender running or the whisk in action, in order to emulsify the mixture, without breaking it into an oily mess. It takes patience, but it’s not a difficult technique and adding a little cold water to the eggs makes them a little more stable and the aioli less likely to lose its emulsion or “break.”
Extra-virgin olive oil is used, along with a more neutral-flavored oil, which gives it a luxurious, but not overwhelming flavor. This makes a sauce worth dipping those lovely vegetables into, perhaps along with some grilled shrimp or thick slices of grilled rustic bread.
You could even smear it onto a hot ear of grilled corn, but we’ll save that for later in the summer.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.