These days, using a grill to prepare food is very popular. As the oldest cooking method known to man, grilling can yield wonderful results. However, if unskilled cooks do the grilling, the outcome can be disastrous. Most cookbooks and food articles share recipes for grilling meat, poultry and seafood but seldom do they teach how to prepare grilled vegetables.
You may want to learn about recipes and tips for alternatives to meat or seafood as a complement to any meal that you might be preparing. Why not prepare the entire meal on the grill: meat, fish, vegetables, even the dessert? Or why not have a vegetarian grilling party?
Following are some tips and recommendations on how to grill vegetables that should be of interest even if you’re not a vegetarian. The same recommendations related to grilling meat, poultry and seafood, apply to vegetables as well.
If you are on a diet and you need to lose the fat, use an electric or gas grill. Place the ingredients you want to cook on a piece of baking paper (without the oil) and then place the paper on the grill. The food will not stick. (Do not do this with a charcoal grill because the open flame will burn the paper). This method of cooking vegetables is delicious. Use raw, boiled or left over vegetables.
In most cases, the vegetables should be peeled, but not always. Unpeeled potatoes are great grilled in their skin. But they are also delicious when peeled. Cut them in thick slices and grill them with a little olive oil and fresh thyme.
The simplest way to grill vegetables is to cut them (length wise) into thin slices (about 1/2 cm, 1/5 inch). Then, add salt and pepper, though this can be done after cooking. Everyone can add salt and pepper according to their own taste. (I like to add coarse sea salt directly to the grilled vegetables. I enjoy crunching salt fragments with my teeth. For me, the taste of salt mixing with the vegetables in my mouth is an important part of an enjoyable dining experience.)
Add olive oil to the vegetables and place them on the rack, on medium to high heat. You can also add herbs during this process. Grill 1 to 3 minutes on both sides (according to the thickness of the vegetable).
Remove from the heat and serve them with any entree you like, or eat the vegetables by themselves with one of my delicious sauces (see below). Raw fresh herbs are great, especially if sprinkled on the food at the last minute. When using already cooked vegetables, cut the slices thicker (about 2.5 cm, 1 inch.) It’s important to have a large selection of vegetables when grilling. Refer to the list below for some ideas. (Feel free to experiment with different vegetables not included on this list).
Vegetables and fruits are great grilled on skewers. Roll long slices of zucchini and eggplant and skewer them with chunks of mushrooms. Try adding a fresh clove of garlic on the skewer with the skin. Grill tomato halves on the side and then serve them together with the other skewered vegetables. Mash garlic on your plate (skin can be easily removed), mix with the tomatoes and add one spoon of olive oil.
Best Vegetables for grilling: Potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, artichokes, fennel, cauliflower, broccoli, green asparagus, carrots, endives, radishes, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, pumpkin, bell peppers, squash, scallions and garlic (with the skin).
Best Fruits for grilling: Figs, apples, pears, pineapples, bananas, chestnuts, peaches and kiwi.
Simple sauces that you can prepare quickly to serve with your vegetables.
1- Mix tapenade (olive paste) with olive oil until creamy. Serve as is or add the following according to taste: chopped basil leaves, diced tomatoes, crushed pistachio nuts, walnuts, lemon juice (or lemon cut in tiny dices) and chives.
2- Mix plain yogurt with chopped herbs, tarragon, basil leaves, diced tomatoes and tomato paste.
3- Mix plain yogurt with chopped mint leaves, lemon juice, chopped chili and salt. Cilantro can also be added.
4- Grill tomatoes (cut in half) on the grill, 4 minutes on each side. Put the tomatoes in a mixing bowl and remove the skin. Mash with a fork. Add finely chopped garlic, olive oil salt and pepper. Parsley and other herbs can also be added.