HOLLYWOOD, FL – When most people think of barbeque and grilling they immediately turn to hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs, chicken, brats, pork chops and like – in other words, meat. But those with perfectly pitched palates, and a taste for outdoor cooking, know well that vegetables come to light and life on the grill, and can be preposterously prepared to perfection over gas or charcoal.
Most often, the closest people get to grilled vegetables is when they make succulent shish kebabs, mixing meat with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, corn cobs and the like on skewers and grilling away. If you really know what you’re doing, those kebabs are prepared well ahead of dinner time and marinated for a few hours in a secret sauce with spices. While meat lovers love their meat, of course, the vegetable presentation on a kebab is what really makes the meal so appealing and appetizing, so why not just grill vegetables alone and serve with, what else, hamburgers, steak, chicken, et al.
Grilling vegetables is quite easy, really, and limited only by one’s imagination. What works the best is asparagus, corn, eggplant, potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, hot peppers (jalapenos grilled are spectacular!), onions, leeks, squash, and cabbage believe it or not. Some things, like celery, spinach, lettuce (leafy greens) don’t do well because of high water content, although sometimes there are ways around the hassles.
There are tons of vegetable grilling recipes on the Internet, so search them out and try something new each time out, but here are a few simple ideas just to get you going in the grill-those-vegetables direction.
One of our favorite vegetables to grill is corn, as in corn on the cob. There are two ways of doing this successfully.
The first one is to get corn with the husk still on, soak them in water for about half an hour before grilling, and then placing them on the edges of the grill while you’re cook other things, like meat. The water keeps the husks from burning, and it also steam heats the corn – you’ll be amazed how much more flavorful corn is when it isn’t boiled. You can even peel back a portion of the hush and place a little butter and salt in there, and replace the husk. Make sure to keep an eye on the corn, and roll the cobs for even cooking. Then enjoy.
You can also take the husks off the corn, butter, salt and pepper the corn, wrap them in aluminum foil and pretty much follow the same cooking directions as above. Pre-buttered, and pre-salted and peppered, corn on the grill is amazing.
Another simple favorite of ours is grilled potatoes. The thing to do is to get a wire mesh grilling pan that will keep smaller pieces from falling through the grate. We slice the cleaned potatoes, with skins attached, into potato-chip-like slices, coat them with olive oil, salt and pepper and whatever other spices you like (try garlic, either powder or minced fresh), and grill them, turning often with a spatula.
There are, of course, many types of squash, and many of them make a great grilled vegetable. You can’t really do a pumpkin, and an acorn squash, we supposed, could be baked on a grill. But what we’re really thinking of is the various types of squash that look like zucchini – dark green, light green, yellow and Italian varieties that are thinner and longer and easily sliced into quarter or half-dollar-size slices about ¼ inch thick. (Some people like to slice them length-wise). A little olive oil, some spices (we favor Old Bay), and follow the same general rules listed above for potatoes. They are heavenly.
Same thing goes for peppers. With bell peppers – red, green, yellow, orange – you can grill them whole for about 15 minutes until the skins are charred in spots. Remove from the grill, let them cool a little, remove the charred outer skin, halve them and remove the seeds and stems, and enjoy. We also like to slice bell peppers and prepare in the wire mesh cooking pan with some olive oil and seasoning.
For hot peppers, use the whole pepper method above, but cut back the time to accommodate the smaller size of, say, a jalapeno. Grilling, or roasting, really brings out the flavor and mitigates the native heat in jalapenos and Hatch chilies and you can either eat them as is, or slice them up for garnish on a hamburger. Out of this world.
Perhaps the most delicious grilled vegetable is asparagus. You can use the wire mesh grill pan or skewer the spears together just below the crow and just above the bottom. Brush with olive oil, season with salt, pepper or whatever, and grill for about 8 minutes over medium heat, turning once. They will be tender, smoky, and absolutely scrumptious.
Onions and leeks, very similar, make great grillers. With leeks – which look like huge green onions, slice vertically in half, drench with olive oil, season, and grill away, turning often to avoid burning. Once tender, they make for wonderful side dishes. Regular onions, skewer two or three slices together, cover with olive oil, season, and grill away. The grilling takes out some of the pungent onion quality, so you can munch away, or you can use them as garnish on hamburgers and steak.
So there you go – some of our favorite grilled vegetables here at The BBQ Depot. Of course, you can’t grill vegetables without a grill, but you’re in luck The BBQ Depot has thousands of them, in every size and budget category, so if you need a grill visit our BBQ Grills page and order just the right one.