The sizzle of a steak on the grill is one of summer’s signature sounds, but man can’t live on meat alone. If you’re looking for a couple of sides that are both healthy and hearty, consider planting some of these grill-worthy vegetables in your garden this summer. Not only will they stand up to the heat of the grill, they’ll be the perfect complement to steaks, burgers or whatever else you cook up.
A great plant for the novice gardener, zucchini grows like a weed, even when slightly neglected. Zucchini are sprawling plants, so give them plenty of space to grow, at least a foot and a half between each plant. And zucchini are not shy when it comes to heat and sun, so plant them in the brightest spot in your garden. They should start producing fruit in six to eight weeks.
Best way to prepare: Cut them a quarter of an inch thick lengthwise in long, flat slices, which will prevent the zucchini from falling through the grate. Toss the slices in some oil and add a little salt and pepper. Cook directly on the grill until they brown and blacken slightly on each side. Finish them off with a light coating of vinaigrette before serving.
Potatoes are fairly easy to grow. You’ll have the best luck with seed-grade potatoes sold at a garden store, but even supermarket spuds will work. Once your potato has started to sprout eyes, it’s ready for planting. Each eye will produce its own plants, so cut up the potato into segments so that there’s one eye per piece.
Once you’ve cut the potato, place the pieces in a paper bag for two days, which gives the cut ends time to heal. Plant the potato pieces one foot apart in a trench about six inches deep facing eye-side up. The potatoes should be ready to harvest in two to three months.
Best way to prepare: Chop the potatoes about a cubic inch in size. Add salt, pepper, diced onion, minced garlic, a splash of oil and a pinch of freshly chopped rosemary. Wrap everything in a tinfoil package, poke a few holes in the foil with a fork so that steam can escape and toss on the grill for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
A great heat-loving plant, bell peppers should be planted 18 inches apart and about an inch deep. Plant them in a sunny spot well after the last frost has passed and you should see peppers in about 10 to 12 weeks.
Green bell peppers are just peppers that have not been allowed to fully ripen on the plant. If you want the sweeter yellow, red and orange peppers, leave the fruit on the plant for an extra two to four weeks.
Best way to prepare: Core and quarter the peppers, add a splash of oil and directly on the grill until the skin blackens. To easily remove the blackened skin, cover the still-warm peppers with plastic wrap and let them sit for 10 minutes. The skin should then slide off easily.
If you’re looking for something a little different to grow in your garden this year, consider a mushroom kit, which comes with live, active spores and a growing medium. Every species of mushroom is going to prefer slightly different growing conditions, so read the instructions that come with the kit carefully. But, generally speaking, mushrooms are going to prefer cool, damp and shady conditions and can even be grown indoors.
Best way to prepare: Place mushrooms on a wooden skewer and toss in a little oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms start to shrink and wrinkle, about 10 minutes.