How to Grill Vegetables Like a Pro
Veggies Take Center Stage in Outdoor Cooking

Vegetables come to life on the grill. Heat works to caramelize the natural sugars and juice in vegetables; combined with smoky grill flavor they equal mouthwatering taste. In fact, once you grill vegetables, you’ll never want to return to frozen, microwaved versions that lack taste and texture. Here are the basics of grilling delicious vegetables.

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Grill Temperatures

Vegetables are best grilled on medium or medium-high temperatures. Follow the grilling instructions for each particular vegetable to determine exact cooking temperature. For gas and charcoal grills, medium temperature is about 350 degrees and medium-high is 400 to 425 degrees.

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Grilling Vegetable Basics

Simple and easy is one way to prep and grill vegetables. Rely on olive oil, salt, pepper, and the guidelines below.

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Grilling Techniques

Different vegetables can also be grilled in different ways, either directly on the grates, in a basket, with skewers, or in steamer packets.

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Grill basket: Baskets are helpful for very small vegetables such as chopped squash, zucchini, carrots, pearl onions, snap peas, and grape tomatoes that may fall through the grates. Vegetables are typically tossed with olive oil and then grilled in the basket. Mix up your favorite vegetables to create a simple side dish.

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Skewers: Skewers help small or chopped vegetables get the char and smoke of the grill without falling through the grates. Lightly coat vegetables with olive oil after threading them onto stainless steel or bamboo skewers. Stainless steel skewers pose no fire risk and are easy to clean. Bamboo skewers must be pre-soaked in water for 30 minutes prior to use. Try skewering grape tomatoes with garlic, grilling them, and using them in a fire-roasted marinara or salsa.

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Steamer packet: Cooking en papillote, French for “in parchment,” creates a steam packet for food. Use a double layer of aluminum foil; add the vegetables, a tablespoon of water, and a tablespoon of butter. Fold and crimp the edges to seal the packet. Cook steamer packets off to the side, using indirect grill heat.

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Add Flavor to Grilled Vegetables

No-frills vegetable grilling is fine, but there are ways to add some zing to your cooking techniques. Here are three of my favorite grilled vegetable recipes.

Recipe: Coconut Lime and Cheese Grilled Corn
Featured Vegetable: Corn
4 ears of corn, husks removed or pulled back for grilling
4 ounces grated pepper jack cheese

Coconut Lime Butter
2 sticks of butter, softened
Juice of 4 limes
Zest of 4 limes
2 tablespoons grated coconut
½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions: Mix all the ingredients for the coconut lime butter together with an emulsion blender. Set aside.
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
Baste the corn generously with the coconut lime butter and place cobs on the grill on direct heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes per side or until the kernels begin to brown. Turn the corn occasionally so that all sides get cooked for a total of 20 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill and sprinkle with pepper jack cheese.

Recipe: Grilled Romaine Salad
Featured Vegetable: Romaine Lettuce
4 romaine hearts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese

Directions: Rinse and dry romaine hearts. Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Grill romaine hearts on direct heat for 3 to 4 minutes each side, or until char marks form and the lettuce begins to wilt. Remove the hearts from the grill. Grate a generous amount of Parmesan on the hearts, and drizzle with olive oil, if desired. Or, to serve as a salad, chop up romaine hearts and toss in a bowl with the grated Parmesan.

Recipe: Herbed Grilled Squash and Zucchini
Featured Vegetable: Squash and Zucchini
Ingredients: 3 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 handful of fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan

Directions: In a shallow baking dish, drizzle the sliced vegetables with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Top with garlic, fresh herbs, sea salt, and pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Remove vegetables from dish and place on pre-heated grill rack; grill on medium direct heat until char marks form. Remove from grill and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.

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