A Brief Guide to Grilling Vegetables
If you love grilled vegetables, easy ideas and tips can be even more useful than specific grilled vegetable recipes. The great flavors of fresh summer vegetables turn extraordinary when exposed to the rapid, high-heat action of a barbecue grill. A slight sweetness is brought out, which, combined with slight charring, results in a most pleasant sensation. These guidelines are good for gas, charcoal, and electric grills and presumes that you have a working knowledge of whatever kind of unit you own. Follow manufacturers’ guidelines for best results. Photo by Dynise Balcavage of The Urban Vegan.
In this list of good-to-grill vegetables I give approximate times, but you’ll need to monitor the process carefully, as it’s highly variable. Depending on the theme of your meal, two easy versatile choices for marinades are either Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade (which has a light, neutral flavor) or Teriyaki Marinade,which gives vegetables a subtle Asian flavor. I don’t recommend Quick Sweet and Savory Grilling Sauce for individually grilled vegetables, since it will tend to overpower their flavors, with the exception of potatoes. It’s fine, though, used with vegetable kebabs that are combined with tofu or seitan.
Here’s a basic guide to grilling common vegetables. Look for an expanded array of veggies and more tips and ideas in Vegan Holiday Kitchen.
ASPARAGUS: Asparagus spears are likely to fall through the grill, so for these, you’ll need a grill basket. Brush with plain olive oil, or Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade, or Teriyaki Marinade. Grill for 2 minutes, then stir; grill on the other side for 2 minutes longer or until touched with nice charred spots.
BELL PEPPERS: Bell peppers are also a standard ingredient in vegetable kebabs, simply cut into 1-and 1 1/2-inch squares and skewered through the center. They will, more often than not, remain pretty crisp this way, since very little for their surface is exposed to the heat, but this is not necessarily a drawback; since skewered vegetables tend to become rather tender, the contrasting crunch of the peppers is quite nice.
Big chunks of bell pepper, lightly basted with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade, are perfect for the grill. Simply grill on each side for 2 to 4 minutes, or until charred to your liking. Or follow Dynise Balcavage’s tips for grilling whole peppers.
BROCCOLI: Cut into large florets. Steam the broccoli until bright green and just barely crisp-tender. Rinse under cool water. Brush with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade or Teriyaki Marinade. Grill, turning 3 times or so, for about 6 to 8 minutes total, or until touched with charred spots.
CARROTS: Carrots are often overlooked when it comes to grilling, but they’re a treat. Peel and cut in half lengthwise. Brush on both sides with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade or Teriyaki Marinade. Grill on both sides until touched with charred spots, about 7 to 10 minutes total.
CORN: Peel and husk the corn and let it soak in cold water for 1 hour. Prepare grill. Wrap the corn in aluminum foil. Grill for 20 to 30 minutes, turning every few minutes, or until it is touched with light brown spots. Alternatively, the corn can be microwaved until barely done, then set on the grill just long enough to brown lightly on all sides.
EGGPLANT and JAPANESE EGGPLANT: Cut regular eggplant into slices 1/2 inch thick. Peel if desired. Brush on both sides with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade or Teriyaki Marinade. Grill on both sides until tender and nicely browned, about 5 to 7 minutes on each side.
Smaller eggplants, such as the summer and Japanese varieties may simply be stemmed and cut in half lengthwise. Brush on both sides with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade or Teriyaki Marinade(especially good with the latter), then grill on both sides until tender and the fleshy parts are lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes total.
GREEN BEANS: Grilled green beans are a great summer treat. Choose beans that are not too thin, but not so large as to be tough and gnarled. Toss raw string beans withwith Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade or Teriyaki Marinade in a mixing bowl. Use a grill basket or screen. Grill, gently rolling green beans with tongs to expose all sides for 5 to 8 minutes total, or until touched with charred spots.
MUSHROOMS: Mushrooms are good grilled individually as well as part of kebabs. Choose larger mushrooms, wipe clean, and trim rough ends from the stems. Brush with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade or Teriyaki Marinade. Grill for 5 or 6 minutes total, or until touched with charred spots, turning frequently and brushing with additional marinade, since mushrooms tend to dry out quickly.
ONIONS: Peel and cut large onions into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Brush on both sides with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade. Grill on both sides until tender and touched with charred spots, about 10 minutes total. Try this with red or Sweet Vidalia onions.
POTATOES AND SWEET POTATOES: Potatoes, whether large or small, should be pre-cooked or microwaved to a done, but very firm, texture before going on the grill. However, letting them cool before cutting and grilling them helps ensure that they won’t fall apart. Cut large potatoes in thick slices and brush on both sides with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade or Quick Sweet and Savory Grilling Sauce. Grill on both sides until nicely browned, about 7 to 10 minutes total.
Firm-cooked potatoes (see paragraph above), cut into 1 to 1 1/2–inch chunks, are an excellent addition to kebabs.
SUMMER SQUASH AND ZUCCHINI: Summer squashes are excellent candidates for the grill, since their not-too-hard, not-too-soft raw texture yields great results. Tiny zucchini or yellow summer squash work especially well; simply cut them in half lengthwise. Or cut medium -sized squashes into long diagonal slices. Brush with Olive Oil-Lemon Marinade or Teriyaki Marinade and grill both sides until touched with charred spots, about 7 to 10 minutes total.
Zucchini and yellow squash, cut into 1-inch chunks, work very well in kebabs.
- Find more recipes for grilling in VegKitchen’s The Vegan Barbecue.
- Find more ways to make Special Occasions and Entertaining easier and healthier.