There’s something about the flavor which grilling gives to vegetables that you can’t duplicate in an oven. The combination of char, the burning of natural vegetable oils and the smoke just provide a whole different feel and sensation to the end product.
When vegetables “burn” they have a different flavor then when meats burn, because they are made from different types of proteins and glycose.
As charcoal grill connoisseurs, the Griller Dude team recognizes the important part that vegetables have in the balanced diet of a master griller. This is why we decided to create this quick and easy guide on how to grill vegetables – in three different ways.
What Vegetables are Good to Grill on Charcoals
The best vegetables to grill are the types which can withstand the heat without falling apart. Avoid lettuce and garden greens because they will generally lose a lot of their water and shrink – the grilled taste of lettuce is not great.
Good vegetables to grill are the ones with high amounts of cellulose (the building material of all plant matter).
While mushrooms are not technically neither a plant nor an animal, they do make for great grilling. Large portobello mushrooms with their stumps cut off hallway down, make for a fantastic side dish for a beef steak.
Other common vegetables to grill are:
- Red, green and yellow peppers;
- Red and white onions;
- Blanched potatoes;
Zucchini are very closely related to squashes, pumpkins and even cucumbers. They have a relatively high cellulose amount which means they hold up well to the heat of the grill, while also having plenty of moisture to not be dry.
Eggplants are also another interesting choice which is not as common, however, their preparation process may take longer because you need to draw out their toxins. That’s right – eggplants have a substance called solanine which is a toxin most commonly found in nightshade plants.
It can be drawn out with salt and by letting the eggplants sweat and release their surface water. The substance is dark purple in color and is generally harmless to humans, however, it might cause stomach pains if eaten later at night.
The Different Vegetable Grilling Methods
There are generally three recognized and commonly practice methods for grilling vegetables – using the foil method, using a grilling basket and using a skewer for collective cooking.
You can also freely grill the vegetables on the grill, depending on the cut and the type of vegetable. Here’s more on the three vegetable grilling methods.
How to Grill Vegetables in Foil
Grilling vegetables in foil generally allows the cook to steam the vegetables using their own natural moisture and any oils the chosen recipe requires. This method is very commonly used to grill mixed vegetables which are smaller in size.
The main benefits of grilling foil packets of vegetables are:
- Allows for full steaming of vegetables;
- Great for frozen vegetables mixes;
- Allows for combining vegetable tastes and aromas;
- Avoids dropping vegetables onto the charcoal;
- Favors richer seasoning options.
This method also avoids charring the vegetables in cases where you’ve got too much going on with the grill.
Cooking Mixed Vegetables on the Grill – Basket Method
Buying ready made vegetables mixes from farmer’s markets or big office stores, or even creating your own, is also a great way to introduce different nutrients into your grilling. Meats are great and all, but vegetables add a different dimension of tastes which is hard to follow.
The biggest problem with cooking mixed vegetables on the grill is that they are often far too finely diced to actually directly place onto the grates.
People who know how to grill vegetables in a basket can confirm that it’s a great way for you to introduce that fantastic natural smoky flavor to your grilled veggies, without the risk of them falling through the grates.
The Grilled Dude team recommends that you lightly season your vegetable mix with olive oil (it’s best to use oils suitable for high heat cooking), garlic powder, salt and freshly ground pepper.
Put your baking basket on the grill, lowering your Smart Flip Grill to the 1st setting, then place all of your veggies in the basket after you’ve tossed them to better introduce all spice and flavors, cook for 15 mins and you’ve got yourself a wonderful summer dinner.
Grilling Vegetables Individually or on a Skewer
Individually cooking vegetables on the grill is one of the most common methods because it’s the most easily accessible. You don’t really have to buy anything aside from your produce which you should slice in large enough pieces so it doesn’t fall through the grates or shrink too quickly before it’s cooked.
The same rules for seasoning vegetables applies, with the most important part being using small amounts of tempered vegetable oils, they won’t burn from the heat and will produce succulent veggies.
The skewer approach is also quite common because wooden or metal skewers are readily available in any household with a backyard grill. You pick the type of cut you’d like to your skewered veggies to be, season the finished product with the spice you prefer and Bob’s your uncle.
Grilling Frozen Vegetables – What to be Mindful of
When grilling frozen vegetables, we must be mindful of a few things – the heat of the grill and the way we are cooking them. Most frozen vegetable mixes are small in size which means we have to either use a grilling basket, a cast-iron pan or foil packets.
The foil packets method is quite simple to do and it allows you more time to defrost the veggies and add more flavor. Using the heat of the grill, you can add butter inside the foil “boat” you’ll create out of the packet, to further tenderize and smooth out the taste of the frozen mix.
Using the lower arm of the Smart Flip Grill, you can generally also control the way your vegetables cook, meaning you can easily make the process faster or slow-grill them from a longer period of time.
Some vegetables, like eggplants, require a bit more heat and time to cook. Onions sliced into halves will brown gently and start caramelizing. Leave them to sit on the 2nd highest level of your Argentinian style grill and enjoy a gentle crunch along with your steak.
We sincerely hope this blog post helps you find your best way to grill vegetables.