Grilled vegetables – how to choose and cook them properly?
Grilled vegetables can be cooked all year round and you can choose seasonal products every time. Thus, both in winter and in summer, tasty and healthy food will be on your table. In the warm season, picnics and trips in the nature become an integral part of a good holiday. Of course, a juicy steak, kebabs or fish are everyone’s favorites but grilled vegetables will add variety to the usual menu. Vegetables can be served as a main dish and as a side dish for meat. They are also great as a main ingredient in pureed soups such as pumpkin or potato. After all, the taste of grilled vegetables is much richer than that of cooked or baked in the oven. And besides the delicious taste, they are also very useful. What are the best vegetables for grilling and how to cook them properly? Let’s find out!
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How to choose the best vegetables for grilling?
Fresh vegetables contain a huge amount of vitamins, trace elements that are well absorbed by the human body. Grilled vegetables retain a maximum of vitamins useful for the body and this type of cooking guarantees maximum preservation of nutrients. Due to the fact that they are cooked with a minimal amount of oil they are not harmful to your figure and health.
It is very important to choose the right vegetables. Not every zucchini will make a juicy snack, and not every vegetable is perfect for grilling. So, how to choose? We recommend choosing only fleshy and ripe vegetables. It is best if you buy vegetables that are locally grown in your area during the season. Zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, fennel, sweet potatoes, onions – all of these taste great when grilled. You know the saying – The juicier the fruit, the better the result you will get.
When choosing tomatoes, select large, ripe, tight, fleshy fruits. Avoid overripe zucchini. Choose sweet potatoes without a green tint and without damages. Grilled peppers are best when bought with smooth, shiny skin, fresh and very firm. Mushrooms should be large, strong, clean and uniform in color. Fennel and onion heads must be dry, firm and free from visible damage. We recommend choosing asparagus with medium-sized fleshy stems.
How to prepare the vegetables for grilling?
Before cooking grilled vegetables, they must be washed well under running cold water, cut off the stalks and tails, and pat dry with paper towels. Small-sized vegetables are grilled whole and large ones are cut or sliced. However, keep in mind that not all vegetables can be cut as you want to keep their juices. For example, it is better to grill tomatoes whole, without cutting off the place of the stem. Bell peppers can be grilled cut and whole depending on your personal preference. There are some very simple rules to follow:
- Try to cut vegetables into equal pieces. Make sure that they are not too small so that during cooking and turning over they do not fall down between the grate bars.
- Make sure vegetables are well dried and free of excess moisture. Moisture will interfere with sugar release and caramel crust formation.
- It is better not to add salt and pepper to the vegetables during grilling, so that they do not lose moisture and are not overdried. Do not forget to turn vegetables so that they cook evenly and do not burn.
To marinate or not your vegetables? It is entirely your choice. Some people prefer to marinate their veggies before grilling while others prefer to season them with just salt and pepper. You can marinate the vegetables in a mixture of olive oil, a clove of garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Other light marinade options include lemon juice, soy sauce, hot chili sauce and white wine. For a Mediterranean taste, you can mix garlic, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil. Keep in mind that marinades with lots of herbs and garlic may deprive vegetables of their natural taste.
Basic rules for grilling vegetables
Temperature is essential for grilling not only meat and fish but also vegetables. Pay attention to the temperature. Different vegetables require different temperatures. If you want to grill assorted vegetables, you need to keep track of the cooking time for each type. For example, beet needs about 30 minutes while zucchini will be ready in 8-10 minutes.
It is important to you pre-heat your grill. The grate should be hot before placing any vegetables on it.
If you are planning to cook a variety of vegetables, start with the ones that are baked the longest, such as peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beetroot, fennel, etc.
To prevent the vegetables from sticking to the grate, make sure to grease it with vegetable oil, removing the excess with a napkin.
Turn the vegetables over so that each side is cooked.
Which vegetables are best for grilling?
Root vegetables are ideal for grilling as they contain the highest amount of sugar. They have a dense consistency and do not lose their shape when grilled. In fact, you can grill any vegetable and they will turn out delicious. The cooking process is very simple and fast enough.
Carrots are great for grilling. You can wrap them in foil or cook directly on the grate. At high temperatures, carrots become a little sweeter and take on a spicy flavor that even children love.
Potatoes are the perfect vegetable to grill and they can be served with fresh herbs and butter, forgetting about meat. It is potatoes that are the most popular product (after meat), which is optimal for grilling. Potato wedges are nutritious and combining them with fish or meat, you can easily and quickly feed a large company. As an independent dish, you can make potatoes with mushrooms and cheese. To do this, you need to lay all the ingredients in foil and add mayonnaise or sour cream to taste before serving.
Eggplant requires some attention before placing it on the grill. It is necessary to remove the bitterness from the fresh vegetable. Cut the eggplant into slices and sprinkle with salt. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes, rinse and pat dry. Eggplant goes well with tomatoes, potatoes, cheese, bacon and herbs. Eggplants can be grilled whole. You need to cook it for 20 to 30 minutes over medium high temperature until the skin is black and charred on all sides and the flesh is soft. Transfer the grilled eggplant to a plate or a pot with lid and let cool. Scrape off the charred skin. You can chop the flesh to make salads or puree it to make dips.
Sweet bell peppers can be grilled whole or in slices. When grilling peppers, they should have a smooth and dense skin and should not be salted. Both bell peppers and chili peppers are suitable for grilling. Chili peppers are usually grilled whole while sweet bell peppers are cut in half or into slices. Peppers with an uneven surface will cook unevenly. Transfer the grilled peppers to a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or place them in a plastic bag and close it. This creates steam, which makes it easy to remove the skin. When cool enough to handle, scrape the skin off with a paring knife. Cut out the stem and remove the seeds.
Corn is delicious when grilled. There are tow methods to do it. The first one – simply toss unshucked ears on the grate and cook them over high heat until the husks are completely charred. Then you scrape off the charred husks. The second method is to remove the husks and the silk and brush the corn generously with melted butter or olive oil. Then grill the corn directly over the flames.
Zucchini, patisson and summer squash are also ideal for grilling. It is best if you cut them into slices.
Mushrooms are very popular both as an independent dish and as a side dish. For grilling, choose mushrooms of medium size, with uniform caps, without dents and mucus on the legs. Due to the fact that plain mushrooms tend to get dry when grilled, it is better to marinate them for a few hours in an oil-based marinade. To make sure that the caps lie flat on the grill grate, you can skewer them.
Tomatoes must be firm, but ripe. They can be baked whole or cut into slices. Cherry or plum tomatoes can be skewered. Medium sized tomatoes can be grilled individually and large ones are cut into thick slices. Brush the tomato slices with olive oil, season them with salt and pepper, and grill over high heat.
Onions are best grilled when cut in quarters with the root intact on each piece. You can also cut the onion into slices and fix them with toothpicks. Brush the onion quarters or slices with oil and grill over high heat, turning them to ensure even cooking, until they are nicely charred on the outside and cooked through.
How long to grill your vegetables?
Cooking time depends not only on the type of vegetable but on temperature as well. Generally, it is best if you start with the species that require longer cooking and if your temperature is set to medium or medium-high. Broccoli and bok choi should be soaked in salted water before grilling.
- Beets – 25-30 minutes
- Pumpkin – 25-30 minutes
- Carrots – 15 minutes
- Broccoli – 5 to 10 minutes
- Broccolini – 3 to 5 minutes
- Bok Choy – 3 to 5 minutes
- Cauliflower – 15-20 minutes
- Fennel – 5-6 minutes per side
- Yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms – 7-10 minutes per side
- Asparagus, green onions– 4-6 minutes, turn every few minutes until tender
- Bell peppers and onions -3-4 minutes per side
- Artichokes – 15–20 minutes per side
- Corn – 15-20 minutes, turning several times
- Leeks – 4-6 minutes per side
How to check readiness of grilled vegetables?
Pierce the vegetable with the tip of a knife or fork to check the degree of its readiness. Better yet, taste it. Fennel, asparagus and corn should be slightly crispy, soft on top and slightly crunchy on the inside.
Eggplants, zucchini, mushrooms should be soft. The skin on tomatoes and eggplants will be noticeably cracked from the heat.
There are vegetables that must rest in a container with a lid closed after grilling. These include bell peppers and eggplants, when grilled whole. The steam in the container will help you remove the skin.
How to serve grilled vegetables?
Grilled vegetables can be eaten as a separate dish or served as a side dish with meat, fish or poultry. The easiest way is to serve them is exactly as you prepared them. Whole peppers and eggplants should be peeled and seeded before serving. Season with salt and pepper, add a drizzle of olive oil and that’s it! Optionally, you can use different dressings or sauces. Leftover grilled vegetables can be chopped and used in salads, pasta salads, they can be used as pizza topping or you can make a delicious soup.