Move Over, Meat; It’s Time to Grill Some Vegetables

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Spring is here and so is the bounty of fresh available spring vegetables. Time to you’re your meat share the grilling time! There are loads of reasons for grilling vegetables, they cook quickly and are so delicious with just the hint of smoke from the grill. Plus you don’t have to panic about whether they’re over- or underdone in the middle like you do with a steak or a burger. In most cases, you can tell if vegetables are ready just by looking at them. Here are a few tips for perfect grilled vegetables.

Oil Them UpVegetables dry out when they hit the heat without a little oil. Before they hit the grill, toss them with a light coating of oil. Don’t use too much—that will add unnecessary calories, and dripping oil causes flare-ups and charred flavors. Tossing veggies in oil helps your seasoning stick better and more uniformly.

Know Your Veggies – Some vegetables take a minute or two to cook and others take longer. Denser vegetables like potatoes will take the longest to cook.  Keeping them over too high a heat for too long will char them on the outside while keeping them raw on the inside.  To prevent burning, sear vegetables over high heat, then, move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.  Or precook them and just give them a few minutes on the grill to get some color on the outside.

The Size Does Matter – How you prep your vegetables determines how they will cook.  Cut them into smaller pieces if you want your vegetables to cook more quickly (and use a skewer to keep the on the grill).  Cut round vegetables like onions or eggplant into thin “rounds”—you’ll get more surface area, which allows for a crispier outside, and because they’re thin, they’ll cook quickly.

Try Using a Skewer or Grill Basket – Cherry tomatoes are great on the grill, but they’re a little testy sometimes about falling through or getting to done to handle.  To keep smaller vegetables like cherry tomatoes from rolling around and falling though the grate, put them on a skewer or use a grill basket. If you don’t have a grill basket, fold a 24-inch-long piece of heavy-duty foil in half and crimp up the edges to create a lip; this “basket” will prevent the food from falling through.

Grilled Spring Vegetables

Herb Butter

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Vegetables

1 pound asparagus

1 pound green beans

1/2 pound mushrooms, cut in half

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat.

In large bowl, mix all Herb Butter ingredients. Add remaining ingredients except walnuts; toss to coat with butter.

Place vegetables in grill basket. Cover and grill vegetables 5 inches from medium heat 6 to 8 minutes, turning vegetables once or twice, until tender.  Sprinkle with walnuts. Serves 8.

 

Grilled Pepper Salad

4 bell peppers, (mixed colors), halved, seeded and stemmed

1/4 cup halved and pitted oil-cured black olives

1/4 cup rinsed and chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Grill peppers on medium-high, turning once, until soft and charred in spots, about 5 minutes per side. When cool enough to handle, chop the peppers; toss with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, oil, vinegar and salt in a large bowl.

Serves 4, each serving contains: Calories 107, Fat 7 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 10 g, Protein 1 g, Fiber 2 g, Sodium 330 mg, Potassium 331 mg.

Grilled, Mixed Spring Vegetables

3 red bell peppers, seeded and halved
3 yellow squash (about 1 pound total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
3 zucchini (about 12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
3 Japanese eggplant (12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
12 cremini mushrooms
1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed
12 green onions, roots cut off
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Prepare the grill to medium-high heat or place a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Brush the vegetables with 1/4 cup of the oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter.
Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil, and rosemary in a small bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the herb mixture over the vegetables. Serve the vegetables, warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.
 

Pesto-Topped Grilled Summer Squash

½ cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 medium summer squash, (about 1 pound), sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick

Canola or olive oil cooking spray

Preheat grill to medium-high.

To toast pine nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Combine basil, pine nuts, oil, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and salt in a small bowl.

Coat both sides of squash slices with cooking spray. Grill the squash until browned and tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve topped with the pesto.

Serves 4, each serving contains; Calories 115, Fat 10 g, Cholesterol 1 mg, Carbohydrates 6 g, Protein 3 g, Fiber 2 g, Sodium 167 mg, Potassium 371 mg.

Balsamic Green Beans and Peppers, Packet-Roasted

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 ounces green and/or yellow beans

2 bell peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, (see Tip)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Mix oil, mustard, syrup, garlic and salt in a large bowl. Add beans and peppers; toss.

To prepare packets for grilling, start with eight 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of foil. Layer two sheets for each of four packets (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning).

Arrange the ingredients on one half of each double layer. Fold the foil over the ingredients and tightly seal the packets by crimping and folding the edges together. Grill over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the packets to another spot on the grill about halfway through to ensure even cooking.

Drizzle the vegetables with vinegar just before serving.

Serves 4, each serving contains; Calories 199, Fat 15 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 15 g, Protein 4 g, Fiber 5 g, Sodium 333 mg, Potassium 389 mg.

Written By

Photo of Tammy Kelly, Ed. DTammy Kelly, Ed. DCounty Extension Director (252) 527-2191 tammy_kelly@ncsu.eduLenoir County, North Carolina
Posted on May 17, 2016
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