Caramelizing your vegetables on the grill top, and adding a kiss of smoke, are the key to taking them to the next level. Some of the best produce for grilling, include whole corn, peppers, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, and eggplant.
You can scarf these lovelies straight up, toss them with a splash of balsamic vinegar, or, one of my favorites, slices and added to a wrap or sandwich.
Tips for Grilling Great Veggies
Thin-skinned ingredients have a tendency to stick to the grill, especially if they’re marinated,
so be sure to brush the exteriors with a high-heat oil before putting them on the fire. (I like
Big veggies, like eggplants, squash, and onions, will grill more evenly (and develop more
flavor) when cubed or quartered before cooking. Remember, the more surface area you can
get on the grill, the more flavor you’re going to get.
Little stuff like cherry or grape tomatoes, and skinny stuff like green onions and asparagus,
have a tendency to try to go sideways, and slip through the grill. Putting them on skewers
first can help wrangle them, as well as making them easier to turn and grill evenly.
Veggies require a more babysitting than a hunk of meat, as they cook (and burn) much more
quickly. Keep a close eye on them, and check the undersides often. Also, be careful not to
overcook them (I like mine to still have a little snap to them, so figure in hold-over cooking,
and resting time. I’ll typically grill my vegetables last, and serve them right off the grill. Some folks grill their veggies in foil, but I try to avoid that, as they tend to steam, and don’t get the
smoke and char…which is kind of the whole point.
Corn comes in it’s own wrapper…cook it that way! Before grilling, carefully pull back the
leaves, remove the silk, and then pull the leaves back up. Soak for a couple of hours in salted
water, pat the outsides dry, and grill until the outside is well charred. I like to strip off the
leaves at this point, and give the corn a couple of minutes directly over the fire, to get some
nice grill marks. Roll them in some garlic butter, and serve with fresh lime wedges.
Dense veggies like potatoes, carrots, or beets, take longer to grill, so it’s best to start them
over indirect heat, and then finish right over the heat, to keep the outsides from burning,
before they cook through.
There’s no shortage of veggie-grilling recipes to be found online, here are twelve of my favorites that can be found with a quick search:
Asparagus Boats with Parmesan & Garlic
Thai Chili Charred Eggplant
Charred Sweet Onions
Padrón peppers with Olive Oil & Sea Salt
Beets in Rosemary and Vinegar
Radishes with Salt
Cajun Grilled Corn
Tomatoes and Red Onions
Eggplant, Tomato, and Goat Cheese
Portobello and Mozzarella
Now, go eat your veggies!
As a third-generation chef, Perry P. Perkins focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.
Perry runs the non-profit organization, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes for at risk youth.
His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party, and the NEW “La Caja China Grill.”