Ten Best Veggies For The Grill

June 11, 2012

It is going to be a long, hot summer if the weather forecasters are right, and that means who wants to cook over a hot stove and heat up the kitchen when the grill will do very nicely, thank you.

Grill preferences and their cooking techniques vary a lot.  I am partial to a gas grill because even though it may not impart that true smoky flavor that a charcoal grill produces, it does do a respectable job without the hassle of starting a charcoal fire. Call me lazy.

I use the grill a lot; I have even baked cookies on it! Vegetables are my forte though and I have learned through trial and error, which vegetables take kindly to grilling and which do not.

I define vegetables that are hard to grill as those that slip through the grill grate or those that are too soft with a  juicy texture. They would include asparagus and tomatoes. I define the best veggies for the grill as those that stay put on the grill grate, need minimal fussing like just a light olive oil spray and whose flavor is enhanced by grilling.

The vegetables listed below are ideal for the grill.

1) Eggplant: Slices char nicely without burning because the flesh is dense and the slices stay nicely on the grill top whether they are sliced in thick rounds or lengthwise slices. Do not peel before grilling.

2) Zucchini: The dense flesh of young zucchini without a lot of seeds are perfect for the grill. It is best to cut them in lengthwise slices to avoid them falling through the grate

3) Red Peppers: A serious vegetable for the grill; char the skin until blackened all over; when cool remove the skin and enjoy the sweet and lush smoky taste with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and salt.

4) Leeks: Remove the deep green leaf tops and discard them; trim off the roots and cut the bulb in half lengthwise right through the core. Brush with olive oil.

5) Sweet Potato: The trick here is to microwave the potato first; let cool, peel them; cut into thick planks before grilling

6) Fennel: Remove the feathery leave tops and save for soup. Cut the bulb into wedges right through the core. Grilling makes this vegetable taste super sweet.

7) Bok Choy: Place small heads of baby bok choy on a large sheet of oiled aluminum foil; sprinkle with coarse salt and a grinding of black pepper. Close the foil and place on the grill. Cook total of 4 minutes, turning the foil over once.

8) Corn: Forget about wetting the husks and wrapping the whole thing in foil; strip off the husks; place corn directly on the grill and brush with your favorite barbeque or pesto sauce, oil or butter. Keep it light so there is no flare up. You can always slather on more butter or sauce at the table.

9) Radicchio: Cut heads into thick wedges right through the core; grill as for #7  bok choy. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Delicious!

10) Portobello mushrooms: often called “the poor man’s steak,” Portobello are meaty and take to just about any seasoning; one bit of advice though: before placing them on the grill scrape out those black gills on the underside of the cap. They do nothing for the flavor.

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