This week’s recipe is more of a collection of guidelines - grilling guidelines for fresh vegetables. We’re talking everything from asparagus to onions to lettuces. If you’ve yet to experience grilled romaine lettuce, trust me, you’re in for some yumminess.
My suggestion is to hit one of the many wonderful farmers markets going on in our community this summer and grab a basket of fresh vegetables, whatever looks good to you at the time. Then head home and get the fire going. You can grill your veggies on whatever kind of grill you have, charcoal, propane or even a stovetop grill pan. Forego using foil or a grill basket and place the vegetables directly on the grill grates to get direct contact with the heat. That means less grilling time and more flavor.
Follow the simple steps below and you’ll end up with a platter full of beautiful, flavorful vegetables. A side benefit is that you can save any leftover grilled veggies for another meal. They keep well in the refrigerator for several days and can be chopped up for a salad or omelet, used on a sandwich or eaten as is.
Basic Grilled Vegetable Guidelines
- Heat grill to medium-high heat (ideally 450-500 degrees).
- Wash, trim and slice vegetables. Aim for uniform thickness and pieces that will lay nicely on grill.
- Drizzle or toss vegetables in oil (avocado, grapeseed and olive are solid choices) and season with kosher salt, ground black pepper and any other spices or seasonings you prefer.
- Grill per side until veggies are tender and charred.
- Grill times will vary depending on the vegetable. For example potatoes will take longer than asparagus, which only takes 3-4 minutes per side.
Other Grilled Vegetable Tips
- You can marinate vegetables before grilling if you want although it isn’t necessary. A marinade can be as simple as whisking together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, herbs and seasonings and pouring over veggies for 10 minutes (for softer veggies such as broccoli and tomatoes) and up to an hour for harder vegetables such as carrots and potatoes. Always marinate in fridge.
- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end of grilling will add a brightness and tang to any vegetable. Better yet, cut a lemon in half and place flesh side down on the grill alongside your other veggies and squeeze fresh grilled lemon juice on your vegetables before serving.
- For larger vegetables such as bell peppers, first cut into large pieces for grilling then cut into thinner strips or pieces once off the grill before serving. For small peppers such as jalapeños, grill the whole pepper, removing seeds and stems after grilling.
- For lettuces and cabbages, leave the stem intact. Slice a head of lettuce lengthwise then paint the entire half or wedge of each lettuce section with oil and seasonings to coat the entire surface. Cut circular heads of lettuce into wedges and cut cabbages into thinner wedges. Place seasoned lettuce on grill perpendicular to grill grates to get pretty grill marks.
- Slice onions lengthwise leaving root end intact. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side on grill for 4-5 minutes per side. Flip by grabbing root end and turn gently. For green onions, trim the ends and place the entire onion on the grill.
- Grill oiled, seasoned kale by placing leaves directly on grate for only 2-3 minutes per side.
For any vegetable I haven’t mentioned, just trust your instincts. Wash it, trim it, drizzle it with some oil and seasonings and grill it until it’s tender and charred to your liking. It is important to pay attention while you’re grilling. It doesn’t take very long to grill most vegetables, so stay at the grill to keep an eye on things and avoid burning those beauties. Charred is one thing; burnt to a crisp is another.