At the Table

6 Vegetarian Dishes to Grill this Summer

By: The Local Palate

With temperatures rising, it’s time to get reacquainted with your grill. What better place to seek inspiration for summertime cookouts than your local farmers market? Think beyond barbecue for your summertime outdoor eats, and go for seasonal produce like corn, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. These six vegetarian dishes from chefs around the South put a fresh spin on your grill game.

Grilled Eggplant Caponata Gratin with tomato and basil in a cast iron pot, one of six vegetarian dishes in this post
Image courtesy of Jonathan Boncek

Eggplant Caponata Gratin

While eggplant can be intimidating, it holds a rich umami flavor and can serve as a hearty main dish. One of our favorite eggplant dishes comes from chef Kevin Johnson of The Grocery in Charleston. Johnson’s eggplant caponata gratin blends the fresh summer flavors of mozzarella, herbs, and tomato with a rich, earthy caponata sauce. When selecting an eggplant, you will want it to have a little firmness. If the skin indents heavily when pressing on the eggplant, it’s overripe. Seek out ones with a similar feel to ripe tomatoes or peaches.

Grilled zucchini and yellow squash with cilantro, cotija cheese, and spices
Image courtesy of Andrew Cebulka

Grilled Peach and Ricotta Pizza

There’s something special about ripe peaches in the summertime. Chef Steven Satterfield of Miller Union in Atlanta shares this grilled peach and ricotta pizza fit to please a crowd. Creamy and slightly sweet, this grilled pizza radiates summer. Our insider’s tip? Drizzle some hot honey over the finished pie for a touch of sweet heat.

Grilled Zucchini with Cilantro, Lime, and Cotija

Harness the flavors of the Mediterranean with this simple recipe for grilled zucchini from John Ondo. This straightforward approach to zucchini highlights the innate freshness of the vegetable, lightly seasoning it with salt, pepper, lime, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. The zesty cotija dressing breathes new life into the dish. Substitute summer squash or whatever is most fresh at your local market.

Halloumi with Green Tomatoes and Chickpea-Date Daal

The unexpected grilling companion: halloumi. If you’ve never tried your hand at grilled halloumi, fear not: the prep work is similar to searing meat. Oil and season both sides (though, you can skimp on the salt as halloumi is often packaged in a brine), and sear on each side. Executive chef Brandy Williamson of Daniel Reed Hospitality in Savannah pairs this smoky cheese with summer green tomatoes, an earthy daal, and toasted pita bread for serving.

Elote: Mexican street corn with mayo lime and cheese, one of six vegetarian dishes in this post
Image Courtesy of Christina Oxford

Elote (Street Corn)

The summer staple of corn on the cob gets a flavorful upgrade with elote. Elote is traditional Mexican street corn smothered in a mayo sauce and topped with chili powder and cheese. This elote recipe from Mas Tacos Por Favor in Nashville gives the corn that unique blend of sweet, smoky, tangy, and creamy, with a kick. Our favorite topping is a squeeze of lime and some bourbon smoked chili powder.

Okra and Corn with Pickled Peppers and Buttermilk Vinaigrette

This bright and colorful dish from Scott Crawford of Crawford & Son, Crawford’s Cookshop, and Jolie in Raleigh, North Carolina, blends smoky corn and okra with tangy pickled peppers and a creamy buttermilk vinaigrette. The trick here is to cut the okra in half lengthwise to get substantial surface area to absorb the grill’s smoke. Top with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and torn basil leaves.

Grilled Okra and Corn with a buttermilk dressing, pickled peppers and fresh herbs, one of six vegetarian dishes in this post
Image courtesy of Jessica Crawford
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