While known for its dairy and cheese, Wisconsin also possesses a rich tradition of vegetable production. The state’s fertile soils and favorable climate conditions create an ideal environment for growing a variety of vegetables. From lush farmland to the bustling farmers’ markets, Wisconsin vegetables offer a bounty of flavors that can be perfectly transformed into delightful summer grilling sides.

The Bounty of Wisconsin’s Vegetable Farms

A basket of sweet corn in the husk on a picnic blanket.

Wisconsin’s diverse landscape supports the cultivation of numerous vegetables, including sweet corn, snap beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Our farms yield high-quality, fresh vegetables that are often available at local farmers’ markets. This direct farm-to-table approach not only ensures freshness but also supports local economies and promotes sustainable farming practices.

Some of the most common vegetables grown on Wisconsin farms include:

Sweet Corn

One of Wisconsin’s signature crops, sweet corn, is a summer favorite. The state’s warm days and cool nights enhance the sweetness of the corn, making it a perfect addition to any grill. Simply husk, season with butter, salt and pepper, wrap in foil, and grill for a delicious, juicy side.

Tomatoes and Peppers

The long, sunny days of Wisconsin’s growing season yield tomatoes and peppers bursting with flavor. These can be sliced and tossed in olive oil, salt, and herbs before being grilled. The heat enhances their natural sweetness and adds a slight smokiness, perfect for accompanying grilled meats.

Snap Beans

Another staple, snap beans, are easy to prepare and grill. Their crisp texture and fresh taste can be preserved by blanching them briefly before grilling. Toss with a bit of garlic and olive oil, and they become a tasty, nutritious side dish.

Transform Wisconsin Vegetables into Grilling Sides

Grilled kabobs on a grill.
Click for Gather Wisconsin’s Grilled Kabob recipe!

Summer grilling in Wisconsin is a celebration of fresh, local produce. Here are a few ideas for transforming these vegetables into mouthwatering sides:

Grilled Vegetable Skewers

Combine chunks of bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and red onions on skewers. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a touch of garlic powder. Grill until tender and slightly charred. These skewers are colorful, nutritious, and bursting with flavor.

Charred Corn Salad

Grill husked sweet corn until it’s slightly charred. Cut the kernels off the cob and mix with diced tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Add a dash of chili powder for a spicy kick. This salad is a refreshing, smoky-sweet complement to any grilled main dish.

Grilled Tomato Bruschetta

Slice ripe tomatoes and grill until they have beautiful char marks. Place them on toasted baguette slices topped with a spread of goat cheese or a drizzle of balsamic glaze. This appetizer showcases the rich flavors of Wisconsin tomatoes and is sure to be a hit at any summer gathering.

Garlic and Herb Snap Beans

Toss snap beans with olive oil, minced garlic and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary. Grill until they are tender-crisp. This simple yet flavorful side dish pairs well with any grilled protein and adds a vibrant green touch to your plate.

Wisconsin’s vegetable production offers an abundant array of fresh produce that can elevate your summer grilling. By incorporating local vegetables like sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and snap beans into your grilling repertoire, you not only enjoy delicious, healthy sides but also support local farmers and sustainable agriculture.

This summer, make the most of Wisconsin’s vegetable bounty and bring vibrant, farm-fresh flavors to your grill.