Introduction: Easy Vegetables on the Grill? Are You Sure?
The grill is one of the best cooking tools ever conceived. The fiery goodness the grill imparts to food is always well liked by everyone. Gas, charcoal, electric. It's all good. You can cook hamburgers, hotdogs, ribs, pulled pork, salmon, BBQ chicken, sausages, bratwursts, all sorts of kabobs, steaks, lamb chops, pork chops, chopped meat.
Wait what? Yes... it's possible to cook vegetables on the grill. In fact, the grill can cook vegetables very well!
Here's the story. My wife is vegetarian. I'm not, but I play along. I like vegetables, I have nothing against them. In fact, some of them are really good. But I also like to grill, which is very meat centric (and there's nothing wrong with that). I've seen many of the grill recipes for various vegetables, but I wanted something simple. And this is what we came up with. And, it's so easy, fast, and good that grilling vegetables should always be possible.
So, I hope to instruct-able you on:
- The tools you'll need
- Vegetable ingredients
- Other ingredients
- How to prepare the vegetables
- How to grill them
- BONUS - grilled corn on the cob
Step 1: Tools
Cooking vegetables is rather easy.
I normally use:
Grilling tools (grippers, flippers, and scrubbers)
Grill basket or surface
Really, the most important tool that you'll need is the grilling basket. You might have seen them at the local hardware store, or at the local home goods store. They look like sheet metal with 1/4" holes all over the surface. I've seen two basic shapes, and both are good. One is shaped more like a square wok or actual basket, with all 4 sides. The other shape (what I have) looks more like a flat surface - almost like a cookie sheet. The basket will make sure the tasty food doesn't fall out when moving the bits around. The flat surface gives you more cooking surface, and allows you to get the spatula under the food easier. Both work just fine.
As far as the grilling tools, I just use the same tools for flipping hamburgers and turning brats.
As far a the grill goes, charcoal, gas, or electric is all good. I use gas, because it's easy to start and stop, but it still has the flame. But to each their own. I also use a charcoal grill for smoking and for large parties, but that's for another instructable.
Step 2: Possible Vegetables
This is the easy part. Pick what you think you would like to grill. A few recommendations:
Potatoes (Take a little longer than the other veggies)
Cherry or grape tomatoes (Cooks very quickly)
Mushrooms (Not technically a veggie, I know... but also not meat.)
It's a good idea to try and pick veggies that will go together. It's also a good idea to pick veggies that are of similar consistency and therefore cooking time (although you can get around that issue). But I'd recommend trying what ever you have on hand and whatever you are interested in.
The three combos pictured in this instructable are:
- Potato and asparagus
- Yellow squash and zucchini
- Eggplant, yellow bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes
Step 3: Other Ingredients
You will also need:
Olive oil (I like extra virgin olive oil for a milder taste)
Spices (There are several good grilling spice mixes available, or make your own)
A word on the spice mixes...
You can buy veggie mixes (which are very good).
But don't be afraid to use mixes intended for steaks, burgers, pork chops, etc...
Also, you can do your own mixes. I like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. My wife likes season salt, and fresh herbs from the garden. We've even used ranch dressing seasoning mix or flavored popcorn salt. Basically, go crazy and be adventurous.
Step 4: How to Prepare the Mix
The preparation is very easy.
Cut the selected veggies into bite size pieces. 0.75" chucks is about right. You can get an idea from the pictures.
It's important to get them all around the same size, so they cook at about the same speed. Also, you don't want anything too big, because it will take longer to cook all the way through.
Place them in a bowl.
Drizzle them with olive oil. (About 2 table spoons of oil per serving.)
Sprinkle some grilling seasoning mix on them. (Enough to lightly coat the vegetables.)
Stir to coat evenly.
That's it. You're ready to grill.
Step 5: How to Grill the Mix
Prepare the grill in your normal manner. Heat it up, clean it off with the grill scrubber.
The nice thing about this recipe is that you can cook the veggies at the same temperature you are cooking your other foods at. If you are just cooking the veggies, then I'd try to cook at 350-400 degrees F (180-200 degrees C).
Let the grill basket heat up with the rest of the grill.
Once hot, pour the veggie mix onto the grill. Be careful! The olive oil can ignite and make the flames fly into the air. pour slowly and be careful!
Spread the veggie mix around, trying to keep them only one deep. Let them cook, and stir on occasion. Try to flip them so one side doesn't get overly char-broiled. Continue until fully cooked, remove from grill, and enjoy!
What is fully cooked?
- When in doubt, taste a piece. They are vegetables, and won't hurt you if you eat them raw.
- I target about 10-15 minutes for potatoes. I like to put them on first.
- I target about 5-10 minutes for almost everything else.
- Asparagus is about 5 minutes, but it also turns bright green when it's done.
- I watch for a light browning, but I don't let things get too charred.
Step 6: BONUS - Corn on the Cob!
Corn is perfect for the grill. But it's different than the cut up and mix instructions I just wrote up. My favorite (and simple) corn on the grill instructions are as follows:
Peal back the husk on an ear of corn, being sure that you do not remove the husks.
Remove the silk. (Do not smoke the silk. My Grandma would appreciate me warning everyone.)
Fold the husk back in place.
Soak in water for about 20 minutes.
Place on hot grill (about 350-400F or 180-200C).
Turn every 5 minutes, and watch the husks start to brown and burn.
Once the corn husks are browned all the way around (after about 20-25 minutes), the corn is done.
Carefully remove the husks. The inner husks will still be wet, and really, really hot. So hot, in fact, that they have been steaming the corn!
Top with you favorite corn toppings*, and enjoy!
* This can include, but is not limited to:
- Butter and salt
- Shredded cheese
- Olive Oil and Chili Powder
Step 7: Closing
So, I hope this has shown you an easy way to make quick and fast vegetables on the grill. Anyone can cook a steak or burgers on the grill, but people are always wowed when they get grilled vegetables. I'm not sure why, but who am I to argue. Maybe it's because they are unusual. Maybe because they are that good. I dunno.
Have fun experimenting and trying new combinations! And thank you for reading my instructable!