The task of grilling vegetables has gotten the bum rap of being so easy that anyone can do it. I wish that this were true! Many burnt veggies later, it becomes clear that putting vegetables on the grill is far from simple. Of course, when you have an unconventional guide to grilling them, you have a leg up.
Choose Veggies That are Round or Long
What are some good vegetables to grill? Think “long” or “round.” These shapes prevent the vegetables from rolling off the grill into the coals (and starting a flare up) or falling between the grill grates. Additionally, these vegetables are easier to grab with tongs. Examples include green beans, asparagus, sliced eggplants, tomatoes and potatoes.
Cut Evenly for Timely Doneness
Slice the eggplant too thin, and the first pieces will be done when the last piece hits the grill. The trick here is to keep the slices as uniform as possible. A half-inch thickness for round veggie slices and a two-inch wedge for corn sound about right. Rather than slicing tomatoes too thin, simply cut them in half.
Marinate in Foil; Cook on the Grill
Tips for grilling vegetable kabobs almost always suggest marinating them in foil and them placing the foil packages on the grill. What you end up with – if you follow this advice – are steamed veggies in tangy sauce. When this is what you are aiming for, go for it! When you want that true grilled veggie flavor, take the kabobs out of the foil and put them onto the grill after a lengthy marinating time.
Pre-boil the Hard Vegetables
Unless you like to wait for your side dishes for 30 to 50 minutes, pre-cook some of the usual holdups to a timely barbecue feast. The most common offenders include root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Bon Appetit suggests boiling carrots for five minutes in salt water; potatoes get a 10-minute boil before hitting the grill. The experts at Better Homes and Gardens advise to also precook asparagus for three to four minutes, but I disagree. When you cut off enough of the tough stem portion, you are rewarded with a stalk that barbecues well within a reasonable amount of time (usually about eight to 10 minutes).
Go Easy on the Flavoring
Did you know that grilled vegetables have unique tastes all of their own? When you mop on barbecue sauce or other heavy glazes, you rob your taste buds of a truly tasty experience. A better approach is a rub (for potatoes) or brush (for everything else) with olive oil and a few spritzes of lemon juice. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. If you like, offer a dipping sauce on the side.