Great Grillers

In their cookbooks "License to Grill" and "The Thrill of the Grill," authors Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby grill just about everything edible under the sun. Here are a few of their simplest ideas (with a couple of adaptations of our own) for vegetables and fruits on the grill.

* Eggplants: Cut them into rounds about 1/2 inch thick, brush them with oil and salt and cracked pepper to taste, then grill them over a medium-hot grill until they're brown and soft on the inside, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. The slices can be eaten as is or chopped and tossed with garlic, olive oil, basil, chopped tomato and a little balsamic vinegar to taste. Serve the easy eggplant salad on grilled rustic bread on its own or with a little fresh mozzarella.

* Apples: Place two halved and cored apples, cut side down, on a grill over a medium-hot fire and cook until well-browned, 5 to 7 minutes. The smoky apples can be sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon for an easy dessert. Or leave the apples unsweetened and make a grilled apple and bread salad. For that, cut the apples into thin slices and toss them with a couple of slices of rustic bread that have been toasted on the grill and torn into chunks, along with some arugula, halved red grapes, crumbled blue cheese, olive oil and salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

* Figs: Toss halved figs in oil, salt and pepper and they're ready to go on the grill (over medium-low heat about 5 minutes per side) for any number of salads or side dishes. Or toss them in melted butter and you can use them in all sorts of desserts.

* Baby Artichokes: Cut the top third off each artichoke and snip sharp tips from any remaining leaves. Trim bottoms slightly so they are even all the way around. Cook artichokes in boiling water until they are easily pierced with a fork but offer some resistance, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain and immediately immerse in cold water to stop cooking. Halve the artichokes, toss with oil, salt and pepper and grill, cut side down, over medium-hot heat until cut sides are well browned, about 5 minutes.

* Portabello Mushrooms: Stem and rinse the mushrooms, then pat dry. Rub the mushrooms with oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium fire until tender and slightly seared, about 5 minutes. To check for doneness, cut into one of the mushrooms and make sure center is moist all the way through. They taste great with grilled figs.

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