Helo Me Roast Veggies on the Grill
May 14, 2011 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I want to roast (or grill, or whatever) vegetables on my gas grill, and I need help. I am looking for general (or specific) pointers on cooking anything from broccolini to zucchini on the grill, without burning the shit out of them, which is what I have been doing so far.

Do I use foil? What temperature? Pre-blanch? All advice welcome.
posted by everichon to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I tend to let the grill heat up on a hot flame (usually with the lid down), then turn it down quite low for the actual cooking. That way you get the nice charred lines on the outside of the food, but stuff doesn't burn. Also, brush with olive oil, and turn frequently, brushing with more oil as necessary.

I only use foil for onions or fish.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 12:03 PM on May 14, 2011

yeah, if you're going to use foil, you may as well do them in a skillet on the stove...

I also use a bit of olive oil (just get the spray kind to make it easy). My grill also has an upper grill in the lid, I will sometimes use that level for the veggies.
posted by tomswift at 12:05 PM on May 14, 2011

I have a metal basket with holes in it that I put veggies in to roast. I usually put the basket along the edges of the grill and move it often to cook everything evenly. Definitely drizzle everything with olive oil, garlic, and spices for some great flavor.

I like le morte's suggestion to turn down the heat to keep from roasting the heck out of everything. It would do the best job I think but I'm too impatient, hence the edge cooking.

Happy grilling!
posted by garnetgirl at 12:09 PM on May 14, 2011

Mr. DrGail lets the grill heat up with a hot flame and the lid closed, like lmdba, then turns the burner under the veggies to medium-low while cooking the meat on the other burners using whatever temperature suits. We lightly coat the veggies in olive oil and seasonings before putting them on the grill. If one veggie takes a long time to cook, I'll give it a head start in the microwave first. I can usually avoid having to do that by sizing the veggies so they'll take about the same length of time to cook.
posted by DrGail at 12:12 PM on May 14, 2011

I just make sure they've got some olive oil on them and watch them. And I make sure to cut things zucchini thick. Medium flame on my Weber. Watch 'em, flip 'em, and pull off individual pieces as needed--they get served warm anyway, not sizzling off the grill. I grill zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, asparagus, portobellos, and onions (keep them intact with a skewer). Stay away from broccoli -- the florets burn too easily. Broccolini I'd just watch really closely. Finish with a little salt and balsamic vinegar.
posted by troyer at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2011

Marinate, marinate, marinate! I'm convinced that what makes my grilled veg stand out - and they are pretty damn good, if I do say so myself - is marinating them in a really great vinaigrette. I usually choose lemon juice over vinegar, and I salt prettily heavily to really draw the flavor out. After that - whatever I have on hand (but pretty much always a fresh herb, with some reserved to throw on after cooking). I usually reserve the liquid and drizzle some over the finished veg, too.

As for the actual grilling, I have good luck "chunking" vegetables into rough 2" squares and grilling them on skewers. (Note: don't mix different veg on the same skewer, unless everything will cook in the same amount of time; instead cook skewers of cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms individually, so you can pull them off when they're done without affecting the others).

Veg that are cylindrical can be sliced into long, flat pieces. Just throw them on the grill, turn em once - done! Zucchinis, squashes, eggplants - all work great this way.

Thing about what can be grilled WHOLE... Asparagus, scallions, those little sweet peppers that come in a plastic container - anything that will cook through quickly. (I won't eat them, but japalenos and other hot peppers are good, too, according to my friends for whom I've cooked them...)
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:26 PM on May 14, 2011

Best answer: Cebollitas are a cheap and delicious way to practice.
posted by rhizome at 12:27 PM on May 14, 2011

le morte's technique is ours, as well. On the section of grill where the veggies will go, I make sure the grill is clean, and just before I put the veggies on, I use tongs and wadded-up paper towel with canola or peanut oil on it and wipe down the grill.

We grill asparagus, which gets dressed in olive oil and/or vinegar/lemon juice and s&p. Zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick, olive oil etc, or baby zucchinis, whole. We've got a basket for chopped up peppers and onions - that gets stuck on one end of the grill and stirred with tongs. Takes longer than you think if you're using the proper numbers of peppers and onions (i.e. a lot, because they will get eaten).

The only things we put in foil (dressed in olive oil etc. plus herbs) are bite-size sweet potatoes or white potatoes. Make a packet and toss it on the grill, and flip periodically.

Turning the heat down before you put the veggies on wins most of the battle.
posted by rtha at 12:46 PM on May 14, 2011

Low - the lowest it'll go - and slow (it takes a couple - four minutes per side).

Proper thickness helps; for zucchini I go about 1/3-3/4". Same goes for eggplant. Young carrots - as is (about 1/3-1" dia.). Peppers - cut into 1/3rds. Onions - quarter or half for small ones. For these kinds of vegetables, I'll toss with olive oil and a little kosher salt. Maybe some garlic powder/granules and white pepper. Or substitute garlic & pepper with a little rosemary or italian seasoning - although I usually use this for potatoes (3/4-1" cubes) on the flat skillet. Toss every couple - 3 minutes 3x. For eggplant, sometimes I like pre-marinating in (Chinese cooking) wine (no sugar) and white miso. Save marinade to brush on after flipping.

Corn, I pre-soak in cool water for a few minutes and shuck all except for one layer. 3 minutes, rotate 1/3 for 9 minutes total.

Watermelon - about 3/4-1" thickness. No need to oil.
posted by porpoise at 2:19 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Indirect heat. Warm up the grill with all burners, then shut down all but one. Grill over the other side. Or, with charcoal, bank the coals to one side and cook on the other.

"Fine Cooking" has a good article on grilling veggies this month.
posted by Marky at 3:09 PM on May 14, 2011

Cut everything up in the morning and toss into a plastic bag. Add whatever marinade and seasonings you like--I l think a little fish sauce adds some zest and I'm fond of also adding a can of pineapple chunks along with its juice--and stick it in the fridge. It will be ready to go when you get home. You can also make enough to last several days in one fell swoop.
posted by carmicha at 3:58 PM on May 14, 2011

I do like using foil. I put a bunch of bunch of veggies in foil, douse with some olive oil, sprinkle on some various herbs and spices, and then wrap it up in a package and put it on the high shelf / cooler side for, I think, about 15 minutes. We usually do this when we are making something else on the grill, so it saves having to clean up the kitchen.

For corn on the cob: soak it, unshucked, for a while, maybe an hour. Then leave it in the husk and put it on the grill and turn every so often. When the outside is charred, it's done.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2011

Response by poster: These are all good, thank you. rhizome, I made the scallions tonight from that recipe, and they are LOVELY.

I think the main take-away for me is: LOW HEAT and DON'T WALK AWAY THINKING ALL WILL BE WELL.
posted by everichon at 7:40 PM on May 14, 2011

Embrace your habits! A great way to make bell peppers is to burn them completely. But them on very high heat or even over open flames. Keep turning them so that the skin is burnt on all sides.
Then, wrap them in a piece of newspaper and leave for a few minutes.
Lastly, unwrap and peel the skin off. It should come off quite easily just by rubbing.

You should be left with roasted peppers - yum!
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 8:19 AM on May 15, 2011

I throw veggies an a iplock bag with some olive oil to get them really coated.
posted by theora55 at 10:15 AM on May 15, 2011

grilled pineapple - yum!
posted by Bergamot at 9:17 PM on May 15, 2011

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