The slightly sweet flavor of a perfectly grilled, seasonal vegetable, complete with that perfect hint of charred bitterness, means that zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, and more, have once again won pride of place at the dinner table. Even kids will eat vegetables when prepared this way. But do you know how to grill vegetables to perfection? We have the secrets to make perfectly grilled vegetables a staple of your summer table. Also check out our guide to vegan grilling.
1. Pick a Flavorful Marinade
While an in-season vegetable is going to pack a punch of flavor no matter what, there’s no harm in dressing them up a little bit. A flavorful marinade goes a long way in adding both flavor and lubrication to the grilled vegetable, making it easier to cook and tastier when served.
Marinades can range from the simple to the complex. We like starting with a base of equal parts oil and acid, spiced up with some aromatics.
By following this formula, you can come up with nearly endless combinations, but here are just a few of our favorites to get you started:
- Eggplant with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and garlic
- Zucchini with grapeseed oil, lemon juice, and basil
- Summer squash with avocado oil, lime juice, and mint
- Green beans with equal parts sesame oil and grapeseed oil, Chinese black vinegar, ginger, and orange zest
- Corn on the cob with avocado oil, lime juice, and chile pepper
Pick your favorite veggies and combos, marinate for anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the porosity of the vegetable and how much flavor you want, and throw them on the grill for a simple, delicious way to change up your dinner routine.
2. Regulate your Temperature
You want a nice char on your vegetables, but you don’t want them to be burned on the outside and raw on the inside. For an ideal grilled vegetable, what you really want is a medium-high temperature, but how can you tell if your grill is medium-high?
The easiest way may be with a point-and-shoot thermometer. Aim for 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit, and your vegetables will be perfectly cooked before you know it.
If, however, you don't want to invest in such a gadget, you can also guess if your grill is hot enough by holding your hand out, palm-down, about 4-5 inches from the grill (remove any jewelry first!) If you can hold your hand there for between 4 and 5 seconds before it becomes uncomfortable, you're good to go.
3. Turn Them Into a Meal
When you’ve mastered grilling vegetables, you’ll want to make them the star of your dinner table – not a measly side.
Luckily, it's easy to turn grilled vegetables into the delicious main dish that's hearty enough to fill you up. Here are our favorite ways:
- Pick a variety of vegetables with a host of different colors, and arrange them on a beautiful platter. Add some freshly sliced, homemade bread, and dinner is done.
- Add more protein to your grilled veggie selection with some grilled homemade tofu or seitan.
- Alternatively, top a plate of grilled vegetables with a poached organic egg or two. The semi-liquid yolk will create extra sauce for your vegetables.
- Pair your grilled vegetables with grilled halloumi, like in our grilled halloumi salad.
- Take a tip from the French, and serve a selection of vegetables with a homemade aioli or mayonnaise.
And don't turn off the grill when dinner is cooked -- the best way to finish a grilled veggie meal is with a grilled fruit dessert. Here are just a few of our favorites:
- These grilled ginger peaches paired with vanilla ice cream is delicious.
- Grilled strawberries are far easier to manage on a kebab, which makes adding seasonal basil even easier.
- Pineapples, peaches, and apples can all be grilled thanks to this handy guide to grilling fruit.
With seasonal produce and a bit of time, it's hard to go wrong when learning how to grill vegetables this summer.