The Ultimate Guide to Grilling Vegetables

This article originally appeared on Kitchn.com and was written by MEGHAN SPLAWN on May 21, 2019

There isn’t a way to put this lightly: You aren’t grilling enough vegetables. The requisite corn on the cob barely counts when you’re missing the bounty of summer produce that gets even better on the grill.

On a personal mission to eat more vegetables myself, this guide serves as both a tool for grilling almost any kind of vegetable and as a template for a gorgeous (and tasty) vegetable tray for any summer cookout. Below, our ultimate guide to grilling vegetables.

Our Guide to Grilling (Practically) Every Vegetable

Whether you need a quick refresher on how to prep and grill a specific veggie or you want to grill a bunch of veggies all at once, let this be your one-stop shop. If you’re here for the latter, this guide will provide you with strategies for cooking multiple types of vegetables at the same time, plus what to do with them after they come off the grill.

How Do I Prepare Vegetables for the Grill?

The more surface area you give your vegetables for grill marks, the more flavor you’re going to get. This also makes them easier to move around the grill. Here’s how to prepare them:.

  • Bell peppers: Seed and quarter.
  • Onions: Peel and quarter through the root.
  • Yellow squash, zucchini, and eggplant: Cut lengthwise into meaty, steak-like rectangles.
  • Cremini mushrooms: Remove stems and halve, if large.
  • Asparagus: Trim the woody ends.
  • Tomatoes: Buy small tomatoes still on the vine, if you can, and keep them intact so the stem acts as a handle for moving blistered tomatoes from the grill.

To prevent sticking, brush the vegetables with oil after slicing, and make sure your grill is very clean. An everyday olive oil is your best bet for both flavor and color on the finished vegetables.

How Long Do Vegetables Take to Cook on the Grill?

Cook time depends on the size and shape of each vegetable, but I’ll also add that most grills have hot spots that we can use to our advantage here. For example, you can place heartier vegetables that can handle high heat — like peppers and onions — near the back of the grill, where it’s often the hottest.

Grill the vegetables starting with the heartier peppers and onions first (or in the hottest area if your grill has hot spots); followed by the eggplant, squash, zucchini, mushrooms; then quick cooking asparagus; and finally, the tomatoes. Cook without disturbing for three to four minutes on the first side to get some grill marks, then continue to cook for the following total cook times (the number below includes the three to four minutes on the first side):

  • Bell peppers and onions: Eight to 10 minutes
  • Yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms: Seven to eight minutes
  • Asparagus, green onions, and tomatoes on the vine: Four to six minutes

Don’t be afraid to move vegetables to a different area of the grill if they aren’t cooking fast enough or are getting too brown. Tongs and a thin metal spatula like a fish spatula work well together to help you move veggies around the grill.

What’s the Best Way to Serve Grilled Vegetables?

Grilled vegetables need little more than a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon right after they come off the grill. If you’re so inclined, this recipe also includes an herby dressing, but you can easily swap it for your favorite pesto or chimichurri instead.

Leftover grilled vegetables can be chopped and tossed into pasta salads, added to a bowl of hummus or cooked grains for a quick dinner, or served as toppings for an at-home pizza night. Whatever your summer brings, here’s hoping it includes a lot more grilled vegetables.

How to Grill Any Vegetable

SERVES6 to 8

PREP TIME:25 minutes

COOKING TIME:25 minutes to 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

large red bell peppers, seeded and quartered

large red onion, peeled and cut into quarters through the root

  • 1 pound 

yellow summer squash (about 3 medium), cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick rectangles

  • 1 pound 

zucchini (about 3 medium), cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick rectangles

small eggplants (preferably graffiti or Japanese, about 12 ounces total), cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick rectangles

  • 8 ounces 

cremini mushrooms, stems removed and halved if large

  • 1 pound 

asparagus, trimmed

  • 6 ounces 

cherry tomatoes, on the vine if possible

  • 1/4 cup 

olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon 

kosher salt

Herby dressing (optional):

  • 1/2 cup 

olive oil

  • 4 cloves 

garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons 

freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup 

fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 teaspoon 

dried basil

EQUIPMENT

  • Outdoor grill
  • Skewers
  • Blender or food processor

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the grill to medium-high, direct heat. Heat an outdoor grill for medium-high, direct heat. Scrape the grill grates clean if needed.
  2. Prepare the vegetables. If you haven’t already, trim and cut the vegetables while the grill heats. Drizzle the vegetables on both sides with the olive oil and season with salt.
  3. Make the herby dressing (optional). Place all the ingredients in a small blender or food processor and pulse to combine.
  4. Grill the vegetables. Grill the vegetables in a single layer, starting with the heartier peppers and onions going down first (or in the hottest area if you’re grill has hot spots), followed by the eggplant, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, and then quick cooking asparagus, and tomatoes. Cover and grill without distributing for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and continue to grill for the following total cook times (the number below includes the 3 to 4 minutes on the first side):
    1. 8 to 10 minutes for bell peppers and onions
    1. 7 to 8 minutes for yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms
    1. 4 to 6 minutes for asparagus, green onions, and tomatoes on the vine
  5. Remove the vegetables to a platter and serve with the dressing. Remove the grilled vegetables to a platter, and coat with the dressing just before serving.

RECIPE NOTES

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.

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