Grilling Veggies

Quick and Easy Tips for Grilling Veggies

Grilled vegetables are an easy way to add intense flavor and charm to your summer meals. Though they are easy to prepare, there are a few common obstacles that make grilling them intimidating. For example, if the fire is not at the right temperature, they can easily burn or cook unevenly. If they are not cut in the correct manner, you may wind up watching them fall through the grill grate instead of onto your plate.

To avoid scorching your veggies, keep your grill temperature at medium hot. Keep in mind that vegetables cook at different speeds, so while you're cooking different types of vegetables all together, you may be taking them off the grill at different times.

When preparing your vegetables, cut them to expose the maximum surface area to the heat. This will help them cook quickly throughout. Smaller vegetables, such as mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, baby squash, and thinly sliced onions, need to be threaded on thin metal skewers or placed in a nonstick grill basket to keep them from falling through the grill. Just before grilling, brush the vegetables with a flavorful marinade or extra-virgin olive oil seasoned with freshly ground pepper and sea or kosher salt.

Once they’re prepared, don’t stop with just one dish—your grilled veggies can be put to good use in many meals to come. Think about using them the next day in a savory pasta salad with your favorite vinaigrette, to add zest to a veggie sandwich, or to provide the perfect pizza topping. Get creative with your new grilled goodies!

Here are a few of my favorite grilled vegetables:

  • Summer Squash and Zucchini (Cooking time: 8 to 10 minutes)
Cooking the interior of squash thoroughly without burning the exterior will bring out this vegetable's most intense flavor. Trim the ends and slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick strips.
  • Endive (Cooking time: 5 to 7 minutes)
Using a knife, cut the discolored end off. Then slice the endive in half lengthwise, through the core.
  • Onions (Cooking time: 10 to 12 minutes, turning once)
Cut thick slices from large onions and pierce them all the way through with a thin metal skewer. This will prevent them from falling through the grill grate and allow them to be flipped easily with tongs. For very large onions, you may want to use two parallel skewers through each slice.
  • Bell Peppers (Cooking time: 5 to 8 minutes)
Cut each pepper in half lengthwise through the stem and remove the core and seeds. Cut each half into thirds lengthwise. Grilling peppers softens them and brings out their natural sweetness, but you'll want to avoid over-grilling, as charring them can bring out bitter flavors. If ultra-soft peppers are what you're after, char them until the skin is black — about 10 minutes. Place them in a sealed plastic bag for 30 minutes to steam and loosen the skin, then peel the skin off and serve.
  • Corn on the Cob (Cooking time: 8 to 10 minutes, turning every minute)
Remove all but the innermost layer of husk so that the kernels are still covered, using scissors or a sharp knife to cut off the tassel at the end. Leaving the innermost layer of husk will allow the kernels to steam. You'll be surprised how moist the corn will turn out!
  • Fennel (Cooking time: 7 to 9 minutes, turning once)
To avoid having it fall through the grate, slice it into cross sections a quarter-inch thick, leaving a piece of the core still attached. Cut off the stems and feathery fronds and trim very thin slices from the base to remove any tough or bruised outer layers. Slice the bulb vertically through its base into quarter-inch pieces that resemble fans.
  • Mushrooms (Cooking time: 8 to 12 minutes, turning twice)
Clean mushrooms and trim any dry ends off the stems. Skewer mushrooms through cap and stem so they are less likely to break when turned on the grill.