Summer means grilling time, and you don’t need meat to enjoy delicious grilled food. But what if you’re like me and don’t have an outdoor grill? As someone who grew up in apartments most of my life, I used to feel so left out when I heard about all the barbecues and cookouts people had. Even worse, I could often smell the aroma of grilled food from neighboring yards. The good news is that the lack of an outdoor grill doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all those great flavors. You can grill indoors just as well.
Grilling vegetables concentrates their natural flavors, making them tender and scrumptious. Whether you are cooking indoors or out, you can enjoy the delicious taste of grilled vegetables. Here are some tips for veggie grilling success:
Prepping your veggies is important for cooking success. Cut or slice your veggies into evenly-sized pieces so they will cook evenly. Different sized veggies will have different cooking times, resulting in uneven cooking. Smaller pieces will cook more quickly than larger pieces. You want the pieces to be large enough that the veggies don’t fall through the grates of the grill, unless you are using skewers to hold them. Round vegetables like onions or eggplant can be cut into thin “rounds” while bell peppers can be cut into strips or halves. Asparagus, scallions and mushrooms can be grilled whole.
You don’t want to just throw plain veggies onto a grill. They can dry out from the heat, so toss them in a light coating of oil or make sure there is a bit of oil in the marinade. You can let the prepped veggies sit in a marinade for 20 minutes or so to absorb flavors or coat them with a flavorful dry spice rub. You can also brush additional marinade on the veggies during cooking and right before serving for an added dose of fresh flavor. Read this article, 10 Ways to Make Awesome BBQ Sauces, Rubs and Marinades for lots of delicious seasoning ideas.
It can be a challenge to keep small, round veggies like cherry tomatoes from rolling around and falling off the grill. You can thread your cut veggies onto skewers to keep them in place. Everyone loves food on a stick. Read Tips for Amazing Summer Skewered Food for detailed instructions on how to make delicious veggie kebabs like these Pineapple Island Kebabs and Spicy Balsamic Tofu Kebabs. Another solution for food that won’t sit still is a grill basket. If you don’t have a grill basket, you can make one with heavy-duty foil. Just fold a piece in half and crimp up the edges to make the lips of the basket.
A third option is to make foil packets for your veggies. Lightly coat a long piece of foil with cooking spray. Place thinly sliced vegetables on the foil and fold the edges over and pinch them together, making a packet. Place the packet on the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Indoors, you can use this same method in the oven or broiler. Be careful when you open the packet because a lot of hot steam will escape.
If you are grilling outdoors, brush anything that comes into contact with the vegetables with oil. Arrange the veggies in a single layer on the grate. Turn the veggies perpendicular to the grate so they don’t fall through. Cook over medium heat, flipping often and basting with oil or marinade. The veggies are done when they are tender and have those beautiful grill marks.
Grilling vegetables indoors is similar. You can use an electric grill or a grill pan on the stove. Heat up the grill before adding the vegetables. Spray the grill with oil and add the veggies to the pan, turning them so they get grill marks. If your grill pan is large enough, you can even cook skewered food on it.
Artichokes: Cut in half lengthwise, press down on them to spread the leaves open. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook them 15-20 minutes per side or until the base is tender.
Asparagus: Roll spears in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. They can be placed in a grill basket or perpendicular to the grates. Cook 5-10 minutes, turning every few minutes until tender.
Bell Peppers: Cut bell peppers into large squares so they don’t fall through the grill. Remove the seeds and ribs. Cook on each side for 4-5 minutes until charred.
Broccoli: Cut the broccoli into large florets and pre-cook them by steaming them until they are bright green. Rinse them under cold water to stop the steaming process. Marinate the florets or brush with oil and grill, turning them often, until they are charred in spots. This can take up to 8 minutes.
Carrots: Peel and cut the carrots in half lengthwise. Brush with oil or marinade and grill for about 10 minutes, flipping them, until charred and tender.
Corn: You have a choice with corn – you can cook it with or without the husk. To cook corn with the husk: leave the stem and husk on. Pull back the husk, remove the silk, and soak for 15 minutes in cold water. Then carefully pull the husk back up, smoothing and twisting it if necessary so it stays closed. Grill for 20-30 minutes, turning the corn several times. To cook corn without the husk: peel and husk the corn. Soak it in cold water for 30 minutes. Wrap the corn in foil and grill for about 30 minutes, turning often.
Eggplant: Cut eggplant in half lengthwise or into rounds. Brush with oil and grill 4-5 minutes on each side until tender.
Fennel: Remove the stalks and cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise, Keep the root attached so it doesn’t fall apart. Brush with oil or marinade and grill for 6-8 minutes per side.
Green Beans: Green beans should be cooked in a basket so they don’t fall through the grate unless they are large enough to sit perpendicular to the grate. Toss with oil or marinade and grill, rolling the green beans to cook on all sides. Grill for 7-8 minutes or until tender with charred spots.
Leeks: Cut the white portions in half lengthwise and wash them well in warm water to get out any grit or dirt. Brush with oil and grill for about 5 minutes per side, longer if they are really big.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms can be grilled whole after removing the stems. Brush with oil or marinade and grill for up to 10 minutes, depending on size. Turn frequently and brush more marinade on during cooking to keep them from drying out.
Onions: Peel and cut the onions into ½-inch thick rounds. Brush with oil or marinade and grill until tender, about 10 minutes.
Potatoes: Potatoes take a long time to cook so you might want to pre-cook them by boiling or steaming them first until they are softer but still firm. Let them cool completely and then cut them into thick rounds or cubes. Brush with oil or marinade and grill until browned, about 10-12 minutes.
Summer Squash and Zucchini: Cut into halves, rounds or oblong slices for the grill, cubes for skewers. Brush with oil or marinade and grill both sides until tender and charred, 5-8 minutes per side.
These are just some of the amazing recipes with grilled vegetables that you can try: Grilled Artichoke and Quinoa Lettuce Wraps, Grilled Avocados with Roasted Tomatoes, Pineapple Island Kebabs, Spicy Balsamic Tofu Kebabs, Tofu Vegetable Kebabs with Peanut Sauce, Kale and Grilled Tomato Salad, Grilled Beet Salad with Almonds and Dried Cranberries. Lastly, though this article is about grilling veggies, don’t forget fruit. Check out these amazing Grilled Fruit Kebabs.
Whether you grill outside or in, you can enjoy the intense flavor of deliciously grilled vegetables. Once you know how to grill vegetables, you can enjoy them not only in summer, but all year long.
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