Summertime and the Grillin’ Is Easy

Grilling is pretty straightforward: Heat the grill, throw some kind of meat on the fire, cook to juicy perfection and eat. But it’s not so simple for the growing number of vegetarians and vegans in the world who are looking for more than grilled zucchini slices when they show up at your alfresco soiree.

You probably think being vegetarian and cooking out on the grill is akin to Romeo and Juliet—with the tragedy. They just…don’t…go together.

In truth, grilling and vegetarian eating can make for one happy food marriage. From corn on the cob to veggie kabobs to main courses and yes, desserts, grilling is summer cooking at its best.

So how do you perfect fruits and vegetables on the grill?

The heat of the grill is just as important in plant-based cooking as it is for cooking meat. A high heat will create a delectable, caramelized, smoky flavor in grilled veggies so take advantage of it. Depending on what you’re grilling, you’ll want to cut veggies thinner or thicker. Zucchini, yellow squash and onions can be cut medium-thin. Eggplant can be cut thicker. Small veggies like cherry tomatoes can be threaded onto kabobs or seasoned and wrapped in foil before cooking.

In the end, plant-based grilling takes your cooking to new heights. You are out of the hot kitchen, but your creativity isn’t lost. Need some inspiration? Try out one of these recipes.

Grilled Radicchio with Ruby Grapefruit

Grilled Radicchio



The delicate bitter flavor of radicchio is showcased against splendidly juicy and refreshing grapefruit, creating a fresh, crisp side dish perfect for any al fresco feast.




2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon avocado oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 heads firm radicchio, halved lengthwise

Sweet Garlic Dressing
3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
2 shallots, finely minced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sweet white miso
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup or honey
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 ruby grapefruits, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced
1 small bunch arugula, rinsed well, hand shredded


Fire up the grill about 15 minutes before you are ready to cook. You will need it at medium heat for this dish. Whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Set aside for 10 minutes. Halve the radicchio lengthwise and arrange on a baking sheet cut-side up. 

Make the dressing by whisking all ingredients together until smooth, adjusting the seasoning to your taste. 

When you are ready to grill the radicchio, spoon marinade over each half and lay, cut side down on the wire grate, grilling for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned and beginning to wilt. 

To serve, arrange arugula and grapefruit slices on a platter, lay grilled radicchio on top and spoon dressing over entire dish. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

Grilled Asparagus Spears with Guacamole

Grilled Asparagus


I know we think of guacamole with corn chips and that’s just great—but you simply must try this for a cool, crisp and wonderful way to beat the summer heat. When I was in Mexico, the chef I worked with told me this is how they really make guacamole, no frills.



Grilled Asparagus
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
juice of 1 lemon
20 asparagus spears

3 ripe avocados, halved, seeded
½ fresh jalapeño, finely minced
¼ red onion, finely diced
sea salt
1 small vine ripened tomato, diced
2 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely minced


Fire up the grill about 10 minutes before you are ready to cook. Medium heat will serve best for this dish.

Mix together the oil, salt and lemon juice, whisking to emulsify. Using your fingers, rub each asparagus spear with the mixture, coating them very well. Lay the asparagus on the wire grate and grill, turning occasionally, until browned at the edges and slightly wilted, about 5-6 minutes total.

Make the guacamole by mashing the avocado flesh until smooth. Mix in the balance of ingredients, adjusting the seasoning to your taste. Cover and chill completely.

To serve, place the guacamole in a bowl in the center of a serving platter with the grilled asparagus spears around the rim. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

Grilled Pineapple Rings

Grilled Pineapple



We all love watermelon at cookouts, but why not give your loved ones a taste of the unexpected with this heavenly dessert?





1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and slice into ½ (one half)-inch thick rings

Juice of 1 lime
3-4 tablespoons brown rice syrup or honey
Sea salt
Scant pinch cinnamon


Preheat the grill to medium. Prepare the pineapple by slicing off the top and bottom and using a sharp knife, slicing off the outer skin, including the ‘eyes’ that dot the flesh. Using a corer, pull the hard center out and slice into rings. (You can also buy pineapple rings, just avoid the ones in syrup.)

Whisk together lime juice, syrup, a pinch of salt and cinnamon. Using a silicone brush, coat the pineapple slices and grill until the sugars begin to brown at the edges, about 3-4 minutes a side. 

To serve, place pineapple slices on individual dessert plates and top with a scoop of your favorite non-dairy ‘ice cream.’ Makes 6-8 servings.

Grilled Thai Style Tofu

Grilled Tofu



A medium hot grill will be most successful in this recipe. The tofu will brown lightly at the edges, with the flavors sealed in from the heat of the grill, creating a main course that is hot, hot, hot.




Juice of 2 fresh limes
1 jalapeño pepper, finely minced
1 tablespoon organic soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or honey
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Thai curry paste
2 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely minced

1 brick extra firm tofu, sliced into one half-inch thick slabs
1 bunch watercress, rinsed well, chilled
¼ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


Fire up the grill about 10 minutes before cooking to get the heat at a steady medium. Whisk together pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, rice syrup, garlic, oil, curry paste and cilantro to create a smooth marinade. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the heat to develop.

Slice the tofu and pat dry. When the marinade is ready, lay the tofu in a shallow dish and spoon marinade over top. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.

Lay tofu on the wire grate of the grill, reserving the marinade. Grill on each side until lightly browned at the edges, brushing with marinade occasionally, 4-6 minutes per side.

To serve, lay tofu on a bed of chilled watercress, spoon any remaining marinade over the salad and sprinkle with peanuts. Makes 4-5 servings.



About the Author

Christina_Portrait_headshotChristina Pirello is a chef, Emmy Award-winning television personality and cookbook author. Passionate about natural and whole foods, she's made it her purpose in life to show others how they can look their best and feel great too, by learning to eat natural, organic food.