11 Grilling Recipes That Showcase Late-Summer Produce
As summer draws to a close, the rush is on to enjoy the last of the season's grilling. Inexpensive market produce stays plentiful through early fall, offering a bounty of tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, summer squash, and so much more. With summer's oppressive heat abating, appetites shift from light salads and plenty of fresh veggies to heartier fare such as sandwiches, mixed grills with bread, meats such as sausage and chicken, and dairy that would otherwise add uncomfortable or superfluous bulk. It's also the time of year when those with an eye out for a new grill can take advantage of end-of-season deals. Regardless whether the grill is new or old, these late-summer grilling recipes make the most of the season's most flavorful and abundant fresh produce.
Related: 25 Dishes to Make the Most of Summer Produce
Having spent all summer grilling ears of corn, why not switch it up by turning the blistered and charred kernels into a salsa, with a recipe from the blog Bev Cooks? This easy blend of grilled veggies can be used as a traditional dipping salsa or a topping for grilled proteins. The heat from the jalapeño and the fiery grill flavor are a warm combination for cool summer nights. Remember to stay attentive at the grill. The time it takes to char the veggies will depend on how hot the grill is when you put them on.
Okra stays on offer at green markets into the early autumn, which makes it a superstar during summer's last cookouts. Grilling okra downplays the sometimes slimy texture, yielding a more widely liked soft texture with smoky char. A recipe from The Kitchn pairs this signature Southern ingredient with a smoky and spicy dipping sauce to further enhance the grilled flavor.
Cooler temperatures mean heavier dishes like eggplant Parmesan can make an appearance without weighing you and your guests down. Grilling eggplant is healthier, easier, and quicker than breading and frying. A Food & Wine recipe suggests a stovetop grill pan and finishing in the oven, but a charcoal grill will add more flavor. Finish it right on the grill in a heat-proof dish with the lid closed rather than firing up the oven.
The best part of this dish is the way the sausage juices combine with the peppers and onions, creating sweet and savory flavors. A Cooking Light recipe calls for turkey sausage, though any variety works. To make a spicy dish, add a few hot peppers along with the sweet bell peppers. Make the most of a hot grill by wrapping the potatoes in foil and cooking them with the other ingredients.
Grilling zucchini gives it a meaty texture that works well with the slight char undertones. Although a handy Cooking Light recipe employs a grill pan, for ease during all seasons, cooking the sandwiches right on the grill will yield more depth of flavor and slightly melt the cheese, bringing all the ingredients together.
A simple and straightforward Southern Living recipe features two late-summer produce staples: tomatoes and basil. Juicy grilled tomatoes can be enjoyed as a side dish, or used in sandwiches and salads to add a smoky, tangy, and sweet element. Grilling the tomatoes over high heat will char the skin but leave the inside less cooked, which is a different approach than the recipe suggests, but equally delicious in its own way.
Rhubarb stays on the summer produce scene late into the season, but beyond pies and preserves, it can be tricky to find a home for it in recipes. A novel recipe from Bon Appétit makes use of rubarb's naturally tart flavor by combining it with cool and sweet cucumbers to make a condiment for grilled chicken. Use this salsa on grilled proteins from chicken and pork to fish for a lasting taste of summer.
Related: 15 Quick and Easy Summer Dinners
Grilling the vegetables brings a new dimension to this classic French vegetable dish, making it heartier and richer. To work in plenty of moisture and tomato flavor, a no-fuss recipe from Bon Appétit calls for grating and dicing the tomatoes in addition to grilling them to create a potent vinaigrette. Serve with country bread and a wedge of cheese for a complete meal.
This Georgian dish combines smoky grilled eggplant with walnuts into a dip or spread that is often served with the salad course. A Food & Wine recipe calls for charring the eggplant, which means it should be black on the outside -- and that's where the iconic, rich smokiness of the dish comes from, so be sure not to undercook. Walnuts add a heartiness and natural fat component, but don't overdo it. A little goes a long way.
Grilling the basic ingredients in this simple Bobby Flay recipe emboldens the flavors, allowing them to stand up to the pungent gorgonzola. Charring and peeling the peppers takes some time, but they're just as flavorful when grilled to just shy of a char and and the skins left on. To save time, prep in advance, and save the last steps of assembly and grilling the bread until you are ready to serve.
Fresh figs are a delicacy that first appear in midsummer and can be found throughout the growing season. They're nearly perfect just as they are, but slicing them in half and grilling them caramelizes the abundant natural sugars. An inspiring recipe on the blog Against All Grain adds a touch of goat cheese and balsamic glaze to add complexity. Figs are delicate, so be sure to watch them on the grill. The idea is to char the surface and not cook the entire fruit.