Vegetables on the grill are perfect for lighter summer meals. Whether served with some rice for a vegetarian meal, used as a topping for pizza, added to lasagna for smoky flavor or tossed with salad dressing and wrapped in flatbread, grilled vegetables are healthy, versatile and delicious.
It doesn't take much to grill vegetables; follow the steps below for great results every time.
- Choose your veggies carefully. To be successfully grilled, vegetables should have a fairly high water content. Zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, peppers, onions, mushrooms, radicchio, cherry tomatoes, celery and some potatoes (those for baking, not boiling) are perfect; carrots, broccoli and cauliflower should be avoided.
Of course, most leafy vegetables are poor choices for grilling unless they are meant to be blackened (some dishes do call for this!).
- Wash vegetables well. There is no need to spend money on expensive products which claim to remove wax and pesticides from veggies. Mixed in a spray bottle, spritz lemon juice and water on them; let them sit for a few minutes, then rinse and wipe dry with paper towels. Whether grilling or not, veggies to which dirt tends to cling (carrots, potatoes) can be given a thorough and safe scrubbing with a sprinkle of baking soda; rub well and then rinse.
- Cut vegetables into equal-sized pieces, as much as possible. Cherry tomatoes make a great size guide for cooking veggies, be they grilled in pouches, on skewers or in a basket.
- For grilling, either par cook vegetables (like potatoes) that need longer cooking time, or only cook together those which can sustain the same cooking time.
- To make veggie skewers, be sure that metal skewers are clean and lightly oiled. Wooden ones must be soaked in water 30 minutes before threading food onto them in order to prevent fires.
- If you want to grill eggplant, which is delicious, there are a few extra steps involved:
Season vegetables with a rub if desired; simply mix a rub or spice mix with a little olive oil and brush or spray onto the veggies 15 minutes before grilling (see links for some deliciously different mixes available online!). Italian or other vinaigrette-type salad dressings are perfect for this purpose as well. Whatever you use, have enough on hand to baste while grilling.
Heat the grill to medium-low.
If using a grill basket, spray it lightly with "Pam for Grilling" before filling with vegetables. Spray the grill rack if cooking kabobs.
To make pouches, pile a cup of mixed vegetables into the center of a 12 inch by 12 inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil or use a pre-cut foil sheet. Season to taste and fold tightly to seal well.
Whether using skewers, a basket or pouches, grill the vegetables over medium-low heat until tender. Pouches don't allow veggies to char, of course, which may or may not be to your taste.
Keep a close eye on vegetables, as they cook quickly and char easily.
Baste as needed with seasoned oil or dressing to keep vegetables moist.
Allow to rest five minutes before serving.
- Slice or cube the eggplant and sprinkle heavily with salt. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Droplets of brown juice will appear on the surface. Rinse the eggplant well and pat dry with paper towels to eliminates bitterness.
- Par cook the eggplant by steaming or roasting before grilling. To bring out its natural sweetness, eggplant needs two cookings. Cook until just below tender, then skewer or mix with other vegetables and cook according to recipe. Italian, Greek, French and Indian spices go very well with eggplant!