Grilling? Think outside the bun

During the summer, you can have your pick (literally) of fresh vegetables. Plump, juicy tomatoes, oversized squash and zucchini, plump eggplant, onions, sweet corn, colorful and flavorful peppers, mushrooms, avocadoes and much more.

Fresh veggies are great in salads, but you’ll want to mix it up (again, literally). The next time you fire up the grill, toss on some fresh vegetables. Keep in mind that veggies usually cook faster than the meat, so you can start grilling them later.

With some vegetables, nature provides its own cooking vessel. Take fresh corn, for instance. Throw the ears of corn, husks and all, right on the grill. The husks will keep the kernels of corn moist during grilling. Prepare a mixture of olive oil, crushed garlic, grated Il Villaggio Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, chopped parsley and salt to brush over the hot-from-the-grill corn. You’ll never want to eat corn plain again.

Other vegetables might require a little bit of prep before grilling. To avoid veggie slices from falling between the grill slats, be careful how you cut them. Cut squash and eggplant lengthwise into long strips that will span several grate openings. Slender vegetables like asparagus spears are easier to grill if skewered. Or you can use a grilling basket.

To oil or not to oil, that is the question. If you’re coating your vegetables in oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill, it’s unnecessary. As a rule, vegetables won’t stick to the grill grate. However, if you’re using oil to add flavor, go with a good quality olive oil. A little pepper (and salt, if you use it) is all you need.

We often think of vegetables as a topping or accompaniment for grilled meats. However, for vegetarians the vegetable is the main dish. If you’re looking for a meat-free alternative to hot dogs, grill some zucchini whole. Place the zucchini in a whole wheat hot dog bun, top it with Il Villaggio Mozzarella cheese and other condiments, and you’ll please the vegetarians in the crowd.

For an easy side dish, grill up your choice of veggies (zucchini, onion, peppers and mushrooms are good choices) then toss with a blend of olive oil (3 tsp. or more), 1 tsp. each minced fresh basil and oregano, 1/2 cup Il Villaggio mozzarella, 1 tsp. Il Villaggio Parmesan and garlic to taste. Turn it into a main dish by adding tortellini.

Instead of the traditional burger on bun, opt for this:

Grilled Veggie and Mozzarella Sandwich


3 cups (1/8″ thick) diagonally cut zucchini (about 1 lb.)
3 (1/8-inch-thick) slices red onion
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 4 pieces
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 loaf ciabatta or focaccia, cut in half horizontally (about 1 lb.)
1 cup gourmet salad greens
5 oz. Il Villaggio Mozzarella di Bufala, sliced
8 fresh basil leaves


1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

2. Combine the first seven ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Remove vegetables from bowl, reserving vinegar mixture. Place the onion and bell pepper on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes on each side or until tender. Grill zucchini 3 minutes on each side or until tender.

3. Hollow out bottom half of bread, leaving a 1/2″-thick shell; save leftover bread for another use. Layer grilled vegetables, greens, cheese, and basil in bottom of loaf; drizzle reserved vinegar mixture on top. Cover with top of the bread; press lightly.

4. Place the filled loaf on the grill rack; grill 4 minutes on each side or until cheese melts. Cut into quarters.

Ever think about using the grill to make grilled cheese? Here’s a mouthwatering twist on traditional grilled cheese:

Real Grilled Cheese, with Veggies


2 slices of bread
1/2 avocado
1/2 lime
2 slices of cheese, such as Il Villaggio P.D.O. Asiago Fresco
2 lg. tomato slices
1 sm. onion
1 lg. handful fresh spinach
1 med. portobello mushroom
Olive oil
White wine
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. First make the simple guacamole by mashing the avocado and lime together with a fork or potato masher until just slightly chunky. Set aside.

2. Slice the onion and mushrooms and, if desired, brush with the oil, wine and vinegar. Using a vegetable basket, grill them over medium-high heat and add the spinach, grilling until wilted.

3. To make the sandwich, butter one side of each piece of bread. Layer the cheese and veggies; add the
guacamole, tomato slices and cheese. Grill until the bread is crispy and browned. Add the other piece of bread on top, buttered side up. Using a large spatula, quickly but carefully flip the sandwich. Grill until the other slice of bread is crispy. Smash down a bit to combine everything together, slice and eat.

  • Archive