Going Organic on the Grill

The world of organic foods can be daunting and – let's face it – expensive. But not everything has to be organic for you to eat well. Here are some tips about when to choose organic foods and how to cook them on the grill.

Squash and Zucchini | Going Organic on the Grill

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The Environmental Working Group analyzed common produce in terms of pesticide levels and has come up a “Dirty Dozen” list and a “Clean 15” list that will help you navigate the produce aisles. Their lists are free to download on their website, and there are versions available for your smartphone, so you can have it on hand when you are at the store – or you can print off the list and keep it in your wallet.

The “Dirty Dozen” – meaning foods with the most pesticides that you should try to buy organic when possible – include: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. 

Some of this produce is perfect for the grill and will heat up your summer with plates full of organic goodies. I have already written about grilling greens, so head over there for more ideas about kale and collards and even lettuce. Check out this article and video from James Beard Award recipient Galen Zamarra for a great recipe for grilling spinach. Zamarra is the chef and owner of Mas (Farmhouse), a New York restaurant which specializes in organic and locally sourced ingredients.

So many vegetables and fruits can be thrown on the grill while you are cooking meat or another main course. Of course, all grills vary so much in terms of temperature, so be sure to watch the veggies and fruit carefully because they can burn quickly. Here are two simple recipes to use with some of your organic produce on the grill.

Summer Squash | Going Organic on the Grill

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1–2 summer squash
1–2 zucchini
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Slice the ends off the summer squash and zucchini and discard. Slice the veggies into rounds. Place in a bowl and lightly coat with olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix well. Place in a grilling basket on a hot grill, stirring occasionally with tongs (to avoid burning) until just tender but not mushy – about 7–10 minutes.

Grilled Peaches | Going Organic on the Grill

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A perfect dessert for a warm summer night. Serve with ice cream, yogurt or a drizzle of honey.

4–5 firm but ripe peaches
neutral oil (grapeseed or canola)
sprinkling of brown sugar (optional)

Cut peaches in half and remove the pit. Brush with a neutral oil and sprinkle with brown sugar (if using). Grill on medium-high heat, skin-side down for 3 minutes or until the skin begins to char. Turn and grill on the other side for about 2 minutes. Remove and serve.

(recipe adapted from About.com)

How have you “gone organic” on the grill? I’d love to hear about your favorite grilling recipes!