As we ease into warmer days (albeit, a slow ease), I shall continue my grilling theme with this recipe for Seasoned Grilled Vegetables, which we enjoyed alongside last week’s recipe for Springtime Grilled Pork Tenderloin.

During the non-winter months — those do exist here, right? — we grill vegetables on a regular basis, often in large batches so that they can be enjoyed over several meals. While grilled veggies are delicious when tossed with just olive oil, salt and pepper, I like to mix up my seasonings from time to time to keep them interesting.

Vegetables should be clean, dry and prepped before adding the seasoning. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Vegetables should be clean, dry and prepped before adding the seasoning. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Before grilling, the vegetables are tossed in a simple seasoning blend that heightens the smoky sweetness of the grilled vegetables without overpowering their natural flavors. This includes extra-virgin olive oil, which adds a touch of flavor and keeps the vegetables from sticking to the grill.

To that, I add a couple cloves of minced garlic, for spice and fragrance, and a pinch of crushed red pepper for the subtlest hint of heat. Finally, a generous dose of finely chopped, fresh Italian parsley elevates all the flavors with a burst of freshness and color.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Rather than adding an acid to the seasoning blend, like vinegar or citrus, I wait until the vegetables are grilled and add a splash of red wine vinegar as soon as they come off the grill. The heat from the grill helps the veggies absorb the acid quickly for a punch of zesty flavor in every bite.

Grilled vegetables are easy to cook but can often be frustrating as they tend to stick to the grill and/or fall through the slots. To help keep you from losing any precious veggies, I have a few tips that will make you look (and feel) like a Grill Master.

Grill vegetables on each side until grill marks are achieved. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Grill vegetables on each side until grill marks are achieved. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

First, it’s important to prepare the grill before each use by making sure that it is clean, hot and lubricated with oil. Once the grill is clean, fire it up and let it get good and hot before coating it with vegetable oil. You don’t need anything fancy for this step — simply coat an old rag or thick wad of paper towels with oil and carefully wipe it over each grill piece.

Once the grill is ready, you can place the vegetables directly on the grill, which works great for large and firm cuts of vegetables. But, if your knife skills aren’t where you’d like them to be, don’t worry. You can use a grill basket, if you have one, or simply place a wire cooling rack on top of the grill to keep any veggies from falling through the cracks, a simple trick that has forever ensured that we will never lose another grilled vegetable again.

A wire cooling rack, like the kind used for cookies, can be placed directly on the grill to keep vegetables from falling through. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A wire cooling rack, like the kind used for cookies, can be placed directly on the grill to keep vegetables from falling through. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

When choosing vegetables to grill, look for varieties that will hold up well to the heat, like bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, fennel and asparagus. Onion is marvelous when grilled and is easier to cook when it’s cut into thick, intact rounds.

This recipe includes cherry tomatoes, which will cook faster than the other varieties, and should be removed once they begin to blister.

Tomatoes will cook faster than other vegetables and should be removed once they begin to blister. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Tomatoes will cook faster than other vegetables and should be removed once they begin to blister. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

It may feel like we are limping our way into better weather, and eating fresh and beautiful food has become more important to us than ever. Bright, colorful, nutritious and full of flavor, these Seasoned Grilled Vegetables are the perfect summer side dish.

FYI — Norwegian Syttende Mai is this Sunday, May 17, and you will find some traditional Norwegian classics in this week's Recipe Time Capsule to help you celebrate. Gratulerer med dagen!

Sarah's Seasoned Grilled Vegetables can be served with her Springtime Pork Tenderloin. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Sarah's Seasoned Grilled Vegetables can be served with her Springtime Pork Tenderloin. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Seasoned Grilled Vegetables

PRINT: Click here for printer-friendly version of recipe

Serves: 4 to 6

Seasoning ingredients:

¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or fresh lemon juice), to drizzle over grilled veggies

Vegetables:

2 sweet bell peppers, red, yellow or orange, seeded and cut into 2-inch wedges

1 bulb fennel, stems and fronds removed, cut into wedges

½ pound baby mushrooms, cleaned

½ pound asparagus spears, bottom ends removed

½ pound cherry tomatoes

1 large yellow or red onion, cut into thick rounds (leave rounds intact)

1 zucchini, cut along the bias into ¼-inch thick slices (leave skin on)

Directions:

In a small bowl or medium Mason jar, add all the marinade ingredients and whisk or shake until well combined. Set aside to allow flavors to meld.

Wash, dry and prepare the vegetables as directed. Place all the vegetables, except for the onion rounds, in a large bowl. Pour most of the marinade over the vegetables and toss until evenly coated, leaving about 1 to 2 tablespoons for the onions.

Place the onion rounds on a plate or baking sheet and brush the tops and bottoms with the marinade. Sprinkle one side with kosher salt and pepper.

Make sure your grill is clean, hot and lubricated with oil before adding the vegetables. If you have a cooling rack with small spaces between each wire, place it over the grill to prevent the vegetables from falling through. Place the vegetables directly on the rack or the grill and cook over high, direct heat, turning every 1 to 2 minutes as needed, until grill marks are achieved on both sides. The tomatoes will cook the quickest, so watch them carefully and remove them when they begin to blister.

Transfer the grilled veggies back to the bowl as they cook. Once all the vegetables are removed from the grill, immediately drizzle the red wine vinegar over the mix and toss to combine.

The vegetables will keep in the refrigerator for several days and are excellent with grilled meats and salads.

Recipe Time Capsule:

This week in...

Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.