How to Grill Any Vegetable Like a Pro
If you think steaks are the only thing made better by time spent on the grill, think again: the best seasonal vegetables make for delicious additions to any summer meal. Unlike their meaty counterparts, vegetables cook very quickly and take on the best smoky flavors from the grill. Most of the time, you can tell that vegetables are ready to eat by simply looking at them. Some vegetables fare better on the grill than others, however, so it's important to understand how to approach cooking each type over an open flame. That's where we come in: We're taking a deep dive into grilled vegetables in the following slides.
While a tomato may need less time on the grill than a zucchini, there are a few grilling tips that apply to all vegetables. Most vegetables can run the risk of drying out over a flame, so use a light coating of oil or to marinate them prior to grilling. Be sure not to douse them while they're cooking on the grill, as extra liquid can cause fires and flare-ups. Speaking of heat, many vegetables are better suited to medium heat rather than high temperatures; cooking times will vary by vegetable, but too-high heats could lead to charred exteriors and uncooked interiors.
Most home cooks will choose to grill vegetables by skewering them alongside their choice of meat. Use skewers to keep small or narrow veggies from falling into the fire; wooden ones should be soaked in water for 30 minutes beforehand so they don't burn. Finally, if you'd like to achieve restaurant-worthy crosshatch marks, wait until the grate leaves a set of lines, then rotate the vegetables 90 degrees. It's surefire advice for mouthwatering success.
Pictured here are American (purple) and striped "graffiti" eggplants. When grilling, halve eggplant lengthwise; cut into one-inch wedges. Brush the cut sides with olive oil, and grill the cut side down over medium-high heat until just golden and marked in spots (about three minutes). Transfer the eggplant to a cooler part of the grill over medium heat. Grill, other cut side down, until marked, five to six minutes. Grill, skin sides down, until soft, five to seven minutes. Season with salt.
Grill whole bell pepper over high heat, turning occasionally until skins are charred in spots, 15 to 18 minutes total. Remove the peppers from grill and let them cool slightly before peeling away the charred skins using paper towels. Halve the peppers, and discard seeds and stems before serving.
Marinate mushrooms and brush off any excess liquids. Grill mushrooms, gill sides up, over medium-low heat with grill covered until they're marked and softened, about 15 minutes. Flip mushrooms and grill until cooked through (do not char gills), no more than two minutes.
Use asparagus spears that are no thicker than half-an-inch. Bunch six or seven trimmed spears together, and thread a skewer through the upper third of spears, gently turning skewer to keep spears from breaking. Repeat at the bottom of the bunch, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until marked and just tender—about nine minutes in total. Serve with grilled lemon halves or use on grilled pizettes, serve with salmon steaks and mustard sauce or with caramelized shallot vinaigrette.
Red and Yellow Onions
Cut onions into half-inch-thick slices. Thread a skewer horizontally through one slice, or several, and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Grill the onions over low heat, with grill covered, until marked and softened for about 15 minutes. Flip the onions and grill until cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Try grilled onions with steak, as a salad or with mixed peppers.
Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash
Cut zucchini and yellow summer squash lengthwise into one-fourth-inch-thick slices. Brush with olive oil. Grill slices over medium-high heat, turning once, until marked and tender, six to eight minutes total. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove husks and silk on the cobs and then brush the entire length with olive oil. Season with salt, and then arrange the corn parallel with the grates on the grill top. Grill cobs over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until they've slightly charred and kernels are tender (about 15 minutes total). Serve with regular or compound butter, chile-lime salt, or slathered with cheese, stuffed in tomatoes, or with tomatoes for a peak summer pasta.
Cover potatoes with cold, salted water in a pan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer potatoes until tender. Drain and halve potatoes (or cut into wedges), and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with spice mix or season with salt and pepper and toss well. Thread onto skewers and grill potatoes, cut sides down, over medium-high heat, turning once, until marked and tender, about ten minutes in total.
Trim the leeks and halve them lengthwise before rinsing them well. Add to a pan of boiling salted water, reduce heat, and simmer until slightly softened; eight to ten minutes. Drain and pat dry. Brush leeks generously with olive oil before grilling, cut sides down, over medium-high heat until marked and softened about six minutes. Flip; grill until soft, about three minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Halve tomatoes lengthwise. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and place a thin slice of garlic on each cut side, if desired. Grill tomatoes, cut sides up, over medium-high heat, without flipping, until slightly charred and flesh is soft and heated, about 10 to 12 minutes total. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper.