Don’t you love “throwing something on the grill”? It’s such an excellent way to have a quick Summer meal. But. while meat grilling techniques get a lot of attention, grilling vegetable techniques don’t, and vegetables deserve a little time and effort as well. Overcooking or undercooking is common, especially when a variety of vegetables are being prepared. To help out, I’ve assembled a few of my secrets for you.
Prepare the vegetables by washing them and cut the vegetables in planks or large disks when possible so they don’t fall through the grill grates and they can get beautiful grill marks. Cook mushrooms, green onions, carrots, corn, and small zucchini whole. Consider leaving the stem on to keep vegetables like onions, romaine, and fennel from falling apart. Par cook potatoes, sweet potatoes, and root vegetables by steaming or microwaving for 3 or 4 minutes. Give vegetables a quick spray or drizzle of oil and light seasoning before putting on the grill. Cook the vegetables separately.
Prep the grill with a hot and cooler side. Cook vegetables on the cooler (indirect heat) side until mostly done and you’re ready to get grill marks and finish them off. Then move them to the hot side of the grill. Make sure your grill grate is clean and oiled to prevent sticking.
Don’t mix them up. Vegetables all cook differently. Cook each vegetable separately and then move them to a pan and keep them warm in a 220º oven until ready to serve. Start with the longer cooking vegetables like potatoes, root vegetables, and corn and add faster cooking vegetables like peppers and zucchini as you go.
Marinate after you’re done cooking. Most of the marinade goes into the coals or fire if you marinate vegetables prior to cooking. I prefer tossing the vegetables into the marinade once they are cooked. The vegetables soak up flavor beautifully. If I want garlic in the marinade, I roast a garlic bulb and blend it into the marinade. Roasting prevents a raw garlic taste on the vegetables. Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Cook kababs items separately. You have two choices on this. Either cook everything you want on your kebabs (including the meat) separately and skewer it into kebabs after it’s cooked or cook like items on skewers and serve them that way. Mixed kebabs with vegetables and meat look good - but don’t work well in cooking because each item has a different cooking time. Consider one of these options as a solution.
If I’m entertaining, I grill the vegetables ahead - sometimes even the day before. I refrigerate them. Then I reheat them on sheet pans in a single layer in a 350-degree oven. I keep the pan covered with foil for 20 minutes and remove the foil for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until they are hot. This takes a lot of stress off of the grill and allows me to focus on whatever meat I’m preparing. (Note: Vegetables will lose some liquid while they cool. Toss in the marinade after reheating right before serving.)
Happy Summer grilling!