I threw this together as a fast, easy weeknight dinner last week.  We have a semi-functional charcoal grill, but firing that up just to grill a few veggies hardly seems worth the effort (not to mention the air pollution).

When we first received a hand-me-down George Foreman [countertop] grill from my MIL, I was skeptical.  Would this be just another appliance taking up space on our counter?  The answer, for us, is no.  We use the grill pretty regularly — not quite that “real grill” flavor, but pretty good with a lot less fuss and effort.

For this meal, I tossed eggplant slices, whole okra (sliced lengthwise from tip, stopping just before the stem so it stays together), and onion slices in some olive oil and salt, then set them on the grill.  The only drawback with our rather small grill is that this does require multiple batches, but everything cooks pretty quickly, so it doesn’t take too long.

To round things out, I tossed brown rice (cooked for an earlier meal) with some frozen peas, garlic-infused olive oil, and roasted sunflower seeds.  We enjoyed the grilled okra dipped in our homemade catsup, spiced up with a little chili sauce.

Beyond the countertop grill:

Gas grills generally come out ahead environmentally in the “gas vs. charcoal” debate, but both types use resources and create air pollution.  If you already have a charcoal grill and aren’t ready to plunk down the cash for a gas version (like us) here are some tips:

  • Avoid lighter fluid, which has a whole slew of nasty chemicals in it.
  • Instead, invest in a charcoal ladder, which enables you to start a nice, hot fire, with nothing more than charcoal.
  • Look for charcoal that is additive-free and/or Forest Stewardship Council certified.
  • When you’re down cooking, pour water over the charcoal to cool it down so you can use the remaining pieces next time.

What are your tips for tasty, greener grilling?