As a big fan of making at least half your plate vegetables in most meals, I encourage planning meals in which the vegetables have a starring role on the plate. In theory, this is extra easy to do in the summer with the abundance of fresh, in-season vegetables – many locally grown. But too often meals are heavily focused on what meat or protein will be on the grill and the veggie sides end up being an afterthought.
Instead of skimping on the veggies or grabbing a last minute not-s0-great commercial coleslaw or mayo-heavy potato salad, try these easy ideas:
- Wash and slice potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes. No peeling needed. Toss in a little canola oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and grill.
- Use a grill basket for any combination of chopped vegetables – basically a stir fry but on the BBQ. Try a combo of colourful bell peppers, zucchini and/or mushrooms. Try grilling a few sliced dill pickles to serve warm with the vegetables.
- Wash a large head of romaine lettuce, slice into quarters length-wise and wash again. Drizzle with a little canola oil and grill lightly. Serve warm drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Make a roasted guacamole or salsa by lightly grilling avocado and tomato halves. Then, chop and combine with freshly squeezed lime juice and fresh cilantro.
- Try cauliflower popcorn. Make by crumbling an entire head of fresh cauliflower into popcorn sized pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons of canola oil and a little sea salt. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast at 425ᵒF for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway, until golden and slightly crispy.
- Grill or boil cobs of corn. Serve with melted butter combined with cayenne pepper flakes and fresh lime juice for Chili Lime Corn on the Cob.
- Toss together a quick Greek salad of in-season tomatoes and cucumbers, olives and Feta cheese. Give it a protein and fibre boost with the addition of cooked lentils, black beans or chickpeas.
- Toss asparagus spears on the grill. Serve garnished with grated Reggiano Parmesan and lemon zest.
- Chop kale and grate fresh carrots and beets. Makes a great accompaniment for just about anything on the grill, especially when drizzled with Glorious Kale Salad dressing.
- If chopping vegetables really isn’t your thing, there’s a new product in the Produce department you may like. Made by Manns, the people who provide snap peas and lots of slaw mixes, Nourish Bowls combine chopped vegetables like broccoli, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts with whole grains and a flavourful sauce. They’re great on their own or served along with your hot off the grill burgers or skewers.
For LOTS more vegetable ideas: 80 Delicious Ways to Eat More Vegetables
Watch these ideas on CTV Morning Live Vancouver