By Courtney Eby, RDN, LD
What could be easier than making your entire meal on the grill? The grill is not just for meat. Grilling vegetables gives them a wonderfully rich, sweet flavor. Vegetables also add color, texture and many health benefits to your meal. Grilled vegetables keep well in the refrigerator and are great served cold or at room temperature.
Choosing the right vegetables for grilling
Many vegetables do well on the grill, but some are better than others. Asparagus, corn, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, summer squash and zucchini are all great for grilling. Vegetables such as cucumbers, celery and leafy greens have a higher water content so they don’t do as well on the grill.
Preparing your vegetables for grilling
If you are grilling directly on the grill it works best to cut the vegetables in larger pieces so they don’t fall in between the grill. Zucchini, cut into flat, lengthwise pieces, or whole asparagus work well. Squares or rounds of peppers, cherry tomatoes or onions are good for skewers (remember to soak the skewers first if you are using wooden ones). Make sure to cut your vegetables into uniformly-sized pieces so they cook evenly. A grill pan or basket can be used for vegetables such as green beans or potatoes. Vegetables are lean, so they need some fat to promote that delicious, caramelized color. Brushing or tossing them with a little olive oil will also keep them from drying out too much or sticking to the grill. Be careful not to drench them in oil. Too much oil can cause flare-ups.
Cooking your vegetables
For best results, set your grill on medium heat. Most vegetables take just 5-10 minutes on the grill. Denser vegetables such as peppers, carrots and potatoes will take longer to cook (about 10-15 minutes). Cook until they reach the desired tenderness. Watch your vegetables closely so they don’t burn. Altering the vegetables placement to moderate heat and flipping as often as needed will ensure even cooking and nice caramelization.