Veggies get their due on the grill

Of all the foods we grill on perfect summer days, vegetables rank among the most exciting.

Perhaps it’s because the grill so thoroughly transforms everything from bland eggplant to plain-old potatoes and squash into new, richly flavored, smoky treats. Suddenly, they morph from boring must-eat sides to interesting creations.

Our family tip: Cook plenty. We always eat more grilled veggies than we ever do of the steamed or boiled counterpart. Plus, any leftover grilled vegetables happily metamorphose into yet another treat for the next day’s meals.

Two secrets come to mind for successful veggie grilling: Keep ’em moist; season highly.

BARBECUE SWEET

POTATO SLICES
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Make extra; these potato planks taste great the next day.

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
4 to 6 large sweet potatoes (3 to 4 pounds total), peeled if desired
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse (kosher) salt

1. Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium heat. Mix chili powder and sugar together in a small dish.

2. Cut potatoes lengthwise into slabs about 1⁄2 inch thick. Place in a single layer on 1 large or 2 smaller well-oiled baking sheet(s). Turn potatoes to coat with the oil.

3. Sprinkle the potatoes generously on all sides with the chili mixture; sprinkle lightly with salt.

4. Arrange potatoes on the grill in a single uncrowded layer. Cover grill; cook 10 minutes. Use a pancake flipper to carefully turn potato slices over. Grill the second side until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and edges are slightly charred, 8-10 minutes. Serve hot.

LEMON GARLIC GRILLED PORTOBELLOS WITH

BURRATA AND TOMATOES
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Makes: 6 servings
Ricotta makes a nice substitute for the burrata; you’ll need 2 tablespoons per mushroom cap.

1⁄4 cup olive oil
Grated zest and juice from 1 small lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
6 large (about 11⁄2 pounds total) portobello mushrooms, each 4 inches in diameter
1 medium red onion, cut into 4 thick slices
6 small ripe tomatoes or 3 medium
Half of an 8-ounce container burrata cheese
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and fresh chives

1. Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium heat. Mix oil, lemon zest and juice, mustard and salt in a small bowl.

2. Gently twist the mushroom stems off the caps. Lightly brush the caps, stems and onion slices with the oil mixture. Grill stems and onion slices directly over the heat, turning once, until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.

3. Add caps to a cooler section of the grill, gill side down. Cook 2 minutes. Flip; brush with oil mixture. Add tomatoes to grill. Grill until smooth side of mushroom caps are golden and tomatoes are warmed and softened a bit, about 3 minutes. Remove from grill; place mushroom caps on a serving platter. Use a small serrated knife to cut the tomatoes in half or slices.

4. Chop grilled stems and onion; put into a small bowl. Season with a teaspoon or two of the remaining oil mixture. Divide the filling among the mushrooms caps. Top with a portion of the burrata and two tomato halves or slices. Sprinkle generously with fresh basil and chives. Serve while warm or at room temperature.