Grill Season is in full swing!
Get the top tips for grilling local veggies (abundantly available at your local farm or farmers market) here! Leftover grilled veggies are great reheated in the toaster oven with a lemon squeeze, layered on pizza, made into a wonderful sandwich with cheese, mayo or veganaise, or even blended into a sauce to add to a pasta sauce or marinara of your choice. You can never have too many grilled veggies!
Seasonal, ripe vegetables from the market will have the very best flavor and will stand very much on their own if simplest is desired. If you are putting together kebabs, pair softer veggies together, such as mushrooms, squash and tomatoes. Keep harder veggies together such as onions and bell peppers.
Cut your veggies:
Cut each vegetable evenly to maximize direct contact with the grill. The more direct contact, the better the caramelization. For example, cut eggplant, yellow squash, onions, and zucchini into ¼ inch or ½ “ strips rather than chunks or even rounds. Slice tomatoes in half, cut corn into 2-inch pieces. Asparagus, cherry tomatoes, green beans and mushrooms (stems trimmed), and scallions can go on whole.
Precook certain veggies:
Firm veggies, like carrots, potatoes, yams, and other root vegetables will benefit greatly by boiling them for a short time to ensure they are fully and evenly cooked once grilled. Carrots simmer for about 5 minutes while cut potatoes for about 10. Beets can also be par-baked in an oven the night before.
Season your veggies:
The options are truly endless. I like to put some of my best olive oil in a huge bowl with salt, pepper and chopped herbs from the garden and then lightly coat the vegetables. Coconut oil or butter can also be used. If you want to marinate them beforehand, be certain to use a marinade with not too high a sugar content as that will cause the food to stick. A simple marinade could be a favorite pre-made salad dressing or a mixture of soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Marinate vegetables from 10 minutes to overnight depending on if the veggies are hard or soft.
Consider creating a foil packet, particularly for potatoes or vegetable medleys of many varieties to protect your veggies from flames and/or to keep seasonings with them. Note that this will tend to steam the food more than grill but it will still impart that smoky grill flavor. Or use a grilling basket – these keep smaller veggies from falling through the grill and allow you to use your grill spatula with ease.
Clean your grill before (and after) cooking!: Preheat the grill and brush with a stiff-bristled wire grill brush. Repeat when you are done cooking while the grate is still hot. To keep your food from sticking, skip the commercial sprays. Just before grilling spread olive oil evenly on the preheated grill with an oil soaked folded paper towel and tongs. If you strongly prefer to spray, check out the EVO glass pump sprayer (no propellants) recently found at a local Olive Oil Etc. store in Doylestown. It is a new favorite tool!
Flip once: One of the hardest things about grilling is resisting the urge to turn the food too early, before it has firmed up and is ready to release easily from the grill. Be patient! Place the veggies directly on the well-oiled grill, over medium heat. Cook, turning the food only once with a spatula when veggies are tender and those desired grill marks appear. Do be prepared to move your food though if your flames get in direct contact with your vegetables.
Don’t overcook! How long do you cook them for? The grill intensifies the sugars in the vegetables and once done, they can easily burn. There are no hard and fast rules but some total cooking guidelines are; Bell Peppers, Onions, Fennel – 8 minutes; Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant, Mushrooms – 7 minutes; Asparagus and green onions – 4 minutes.Serve.
Still Want More Flavor?: If you really wanted that sweet sauce, now would be the time to add it, or a dash of reduced balsamic vinegar. Dipping sauces on the side can also be provided for those who love their sauces; just don’t hide the beautiful flavor of those freshly grilled vegetables! We found a link to 24 recipes for grilled veggies… and not just your everyday ones either!