Best vegetables for fall grilling

Although fall is approaching, there’s still time to grill these vegetables Photo: Mary Payne Moran

LOS ANGELES, September 17, 2012 — The end of summer is here and although a chill may be creeping into the air, there’s still time to grill.  Here are the top 10 vegetables to cook on the grill for fall:

1. Belgium Endive- This delicate lettuce is simple to cook. Slice it in half, lightly gloss the cut side with canola oil and season it with salt and pepper. Quickly sear it on the grill.  Add fall flavors by tossing the grilled endive with blue cheese, walnuts, red onion and a final touch of a citrus dressing.

2. Red Onion- Red onion is a versatile vegetable. To grill red onion it’s best to cut it into wedges or circles. The trick is to cut them about 1 ½ to 2 inches thick so the onion doesn’t fall through the grate and it doesn’t disappear while it’s cooking. Red onion is delicious served with grilled red meats.

3. Delicata Squash- Squash is almost always cooked in the oven but you can also cook it on the grill.  However, it does take a bit of patience.  Cut the squash into half rings (remove the seeds and keep the skin on). Lightly coat both sides with canola  oil and season them with salt and pepper. Cook the squash at medium high heat and keep the lid closed as much as possible. You want to grill the squash until they’re cooked through (you can also seal the squash in foil and let them steam for a few extra minutes to make sure they are soft enough). Squash is delicious served as a side dish tossed with toasted pine nuts.

4. Eggplant- The dark purple color is fitting for fall. Grilled eggplant can be a bit tricky to cook.  There are two ways to cook it.

1. Cut it and add a thin layer of salt over the top which will absorb extra moisture. (Wipe off salt before you grill the eggplant)

2. Cook the eggplant without removing the moisture.

Either way you will have a delicious outcome but when the moisture is still in the eggplant it falls apart easier on the grill which makes it tricky to flip and rotate.  For fall try serving the eggplant with chopped figs, pine nuts and olive oil.

5. Fennel.  Nothing says fall like grilled fennel. It  has a very light hint of licorice.  Most people really like it even if they don’t like licorice.  Fennel should be sliced in ¾-1 inch thick slices vertical (remove green stem) drizzled with oil and cooked on a medium high heat.  To add to the fall flavors you can toss it in a salad with arugula, fava beans, figs and walnuts.

6. Portobello Mushrooms.  They are wonderful for grilling because of their large surface and rich flavor that emerges through when cooked on the grill.  When prepping a portobello for the grill you can do one of two things: either scrape the black ridges in the interior off with a spoon or leave the black ridges on. Either way the flavor will not be affected, what will be affected is the color of the portobello after it is cooked. The black ridges tend to discolor the mushroom while it’s cooking and turn it slightly black brown all over.  To bring out the fall flavor add roasted red peppers, goat cheese, red onion or radicchio to the mushrooms.

7. Figs- OK, it’s true that figs are not a vegetable, but they are delicious grilled. They are best left whole so they don’t fall through the grates and retain their shape. Coat them with oil and place them on the grill and cook them for 3-4 minutes. Serve them with blue cheese, any variety of nut, dark rich lettuces, or red meats.

8. Leeks- Leeks are in the onion family. The key to grilling leeks is to remove the tough exterior and grill the softer interior. The best way for them to stay in tact is to cut them in quarters lengthwise but leave the bulb on at the end to keep the leaves together. As most onions they need a oil to keep them from drying out around the exterior and seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked on a medium heat. The trick to cooking leeks is you don’t want to move them around because the leaves will call apart. Serve grilled leeks with mild white fish, garnish soups, in salads with citrus and grilled chicken pieces.

9. Cauliflower- Cauliflowers pale white color is enhanced with deep grill marks and the earthy flavored addition makes this a perfect addition for fall. Cauliflower is typically broken into small pieces when it is steamed but when you grill it should be cut into larger pieces to keep it all intact. The key is to gloss the cauliflower with canola oil to prevent it front drying out and sticking to the grill. To add fall flavors try tossing it with root vegetables and roasted garlic.

10. Brussel Sprouts- If Alton Brown says so, actually this recipe sounds fascinating and delicious for fall. Alton Brown’s trick to grilling brussel sprouts is to precook them in the microwave and once they are slightly soft skewer them with a metal skewer. As always brussel sprouts are a fantastic way to welcome fall, try serving them with roasted garlic, nuts of all types and red wine vinegar.

Happy Cooking!

Chef Mary

For more great cooking tips, recipes and stories from Chef Mary, visit her To learn more about Chef Mary, check out her Hail Mary’s, Inc. Web site E-mail questions for Ask Chef Mary Fridays to or click the Ask Chef Mary link above. 


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The information provided is general information about healthy eating. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice or treatment that may have been prescribed by your physician or other health care provider. Always consult a physician before starting any new diet or regimen. 


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Mary Moran

Upon graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts in 2002, Chef Mary Payne Moran began her professional career shelling crabs at the world-renowned restaurant, Michael's in Santa Monica.  Simultaneously, she launched her own company, Hail Mary’s, founded upon the belief that good food nurtures the soul, and began catering weddings, parties and large corporate events.

In the fall of 2008, Mary began teaching her culinary skills to others.    Currently she can be found at Hollywood School House teaching her after school cooking class, and teaching her popular "Vegetables or Not Here I Come" assembly.

Most recently, Mary has launched another division in her company as well as a chef she is now also a Certified Nutritionist for high profile clients.  She helps her clients discover their healthy way of eating.  Mary has recently been published in the Los Angeles Magazine, & The New Jersey Star Ledger.

Daily she addresses cooking aficionados through her blog - Cooking with Chef Mary as well as her how-to webisodes on You Tube.

Contact Mary Moran


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