Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a chef, it’s easy to learn how to grill vegetables””and frankly, it’s a life-changing skill. An open fire brings out the absolute best flavours of your favourite veggies by caramelizing the sugars and imparting that unmistakable smoky taste. Fortunately, learning how to grill vegetables is also a total piece of cake, so it might just be the easiest way to enjoy your summer harvest, get your daily servings in, and impress your friends and family all summer long. Here’s what you need to know for perfect veggies every time.
How to Grill Vegetables (Rules of Thumb)
Most of the know-how around doing your vegetables on the grill comes down to prep and supplies. These rules of thumb can help you through most of your veggie-grilling adventures:
- In general, soft veggies, like tomatoes, should be grilled on high heat for a short time (2-5 minutes) and firm veggies, like potatoes, need more time on medium heat (20-30 minutes).
- Always marinate your veggies before grilling; it improves the flavour, promotes even cooking, and reduces stickiness. The most basic marinade is just olive oil, salt, pepper, and dry herbs, but you can also add a splash or two of an acid, like balsamic or apple cider vinegar, for a kick. Feel free to experiment with your marinades!
- Large cuts of vegetables can go straight on the grill; this technique is how you get that lovely charred look!
- Smaller cuts that could fall through the grates are better off cooking in a grilling basket or in kabobs (skewers).
- Every grill is a little different, as is everyone’s definition of “perfectly done.” If it’s your first time cooking a certain vegetable, try cooking it over medium heat, watching carefully, and take note of the time it takes to reach your desired doneness.
How to Grill Somewhat Trickier Vegetables
While most veggies will cook up quickly and easily with the above tips, some veggies benefit from slightly more specific treatment to reach their full potential.
How to Cook Asparagus on the Grill
Asparagus can be a little tricky to get just right; there’s a relatively small window between spears that are too limp and too firm. While many recipes will tell you to grill your asparagus in a foil pouch, it’s actually much easier to monitor their doneness by putting them directly on an oiled grill laying across the grill grates. Marinate and season well and grill for about 4 minutes, or until they’re as soft as you like, on medium heat.
How to BBQ Sweet Corn
Grilled corn is one of the summer’s best delights! For a steamed-corn texture, grill ears with the husk on for about 10-15 minutes (don’t worry if they burn) and then remove the husks after cooking. If you’re serving guests and want to maximize flavour and reduce fuss, de-husk the corn and spread with butter and herbs before grilling in foil, turning every 5 minutes for 10-15 minutes. Or, if you can’t get enough of that charred, caramelized flavour, soak your de-husked corn for 15 minutes and then throw directly on an oiled grill, watching and turning occasionally until it’s just how you like it.
How to Grill Potatoes
Grilling potatoes can be touchy because they’re dense, never uniform in size, and no one likes an undercooked tater! Baby potatoes are the easiest to grill because of their small size; just slice a pound or two of them in half, toss in olive oil and seasonings, and grill in foil packets (about a half pound per packet) for 20-25 minutes on medium-high heat. If you prefer whole, large potatoes, you can slather them in butter and seasonings, wrap in foil, then pierce liberally with a fork before grilling for 1 hour on medium heat. Turn the potatoes occasionally for even cooking.
A final tip I’ll leave you with; grilling is as much an art as it is a science. While not all vegetables take well to the grill (looking at you, cucumbers), some might surprise you with how incredible the flavours dance with the open flame. Try grilled romaine lettuce for a warm twist on Caesar salad, grilled fruit for a next-level sundae topping, or experiment with any veggie you have kicking around. For more culinary delights (and of course, everything you need to grow your own veggies), stop by a Salisbury Greenhouse location in Sherwood Park or St Albert today!