One of the great pleasures of summer is cooking on the grill. Meats of nearly every kind are usually a staple for your bbq, but it’s time for vegetables to take their rightful place on those sacred grates. Fresh vegetables will soon be plentiful, and cooking them on the grill is an easy and delicious way to enjoy them. Here are four tips to make sure you get the best out of your grilled veggie delights!
Choose Your Veggies
Nearly all vegetables are suited for grilling, but some are especially suited for the grill. Some of the standouts include the obvious, such as corn and many kinds of peppers; however, you should also consider asparagus, cabbage, eggplants, mushrooms (especially portobellos), squash and onions. Nearly anything goes on the grill.
Prepare Your Vegetables
If you want your veggies to cook more quickly, cut them in smaller pieces. Cut round vegetables such as eggplant and onions into slices; this gives you more surface area, allowing them to achieve a crispier, smoky-flavored outside. This thinner cut will also ensure that they will cook quickly and evenly.
After washing and cutting your veggies, toss them in a little oil. This will keep them from drying out or sticking to surfaces. A light coating of oil will also help your seasonings adhere evenly. Take care not to add too much, though. If your vegetables are dripping, they are likely to cause a flare-up from the fire below, creating an acrid, burnt flavor. Limiting the amount of oil you use will also eliminate any unnecessary calories. You can also marinade vegetables in your favorite flavors.
Choose Your Weapon
The easiest way to cook vegetables on the grill is simply to place them on the grates. This works well for larger vegetables, such as corn which comes in its own packaging; however, some of your favorites might require a different method.
Cherry tomatoes, for example, may roll around or fall through the grill grates. If you’ve cut your vegetables into smaller pieces, they will undoubtedly do the same. Consider putting them on skewers or use a grill basket to keep them contained. If you don’t have either, some heavy-duty foil folded into a kind of basket will do just as well.
To make your life even easier, seal all your vegetables into a foil pouch made of heavy-duty foil and let the steam work its magic. You lose the grill marks, but you gain some free time.
It’s important to watch vegetables a little more closely than meat, as they generally cook more quickly. Also take into consideration that some vegetables may take longer to cook. Potatoes, for instance, are denser than most vegetables, and you certainly don’t want to serve raw vegetables. Potatoes may need to be pre-cooked and then placed on the grill to gain some tasty coloring.
Start grilling the denser vegetables first, adding the rest later in the cooking process. Try not to crowd them together too much or they will be more steamed than grilled. Once your vegetables have a nice char, which happens quickly because of the oil, you can move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking without getting overdone or over-charred.
The good news about vegetables is that it is not too difficult to tell when they’re completely cooked. Once they have a nice char or grill mark, test their softness to tell whether they’re ready to eat.
For some variety, add a different seasoning to your vegetables each time you grill them or make a great dip or salad with them once they’re cooked. Grilled vegetables have a naturally delicious smoky flavor, and the caramelization achieved by the flames makes them perfect as a side dish for any meal.