When you know how to grill vegetables the right way, they can be a healthy and tasty part of a balanced diet — and, dare we say, just as crave-worthy as a juicy burger or shrimp skewer. Why grill your veggies? Not only does it help mix up your vegetable cooking methods, but vegetables cooked on the grill take on new flavor dimensions that can’t be achieved through boiling, steaming, or baking, explains Carrie Gabriel, M.S., R.D.N.“Grilling vegetables allows their natural sugars to become caramelized, creating a sweet, smoky finish,” Gabriel says. Before you fire up the grill, here are our top tips for making veggies part of your barbecue repertoire.
Vegetables are not all equal when it comes to grill-ability, so be sure to choose veggies that are hearty enough to stand up to the flame and the flipping, Gabriel says.
“Some of the best vegetables for grilling are bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onions, and yellow squash,” she adds.
Delicate vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, and scallions can handle the heat but may require special tools or techniques to get the best results to want to ensure your veggies actually make it to your table — not the bottom of your barbecue. Invest in a set of metal skewers to keep smaller veggies like bell pepper chunks and mushrooms from falling through the grates.
Metal skewers are flame-proof, and because they’re reusable, they’re better for the earth. If you only have wood skewers available, soak them for at least 30 minutes before putting them on the grill to avoid igniting. Another option: pick up a grill basket, suggests Lisa Richards, CNC, a nutritionist and the creator of the Candida Diet. Baskets help to free up some grill space and make it easy to cook veggies like carrots, asparagus, and chopped potatoes easily and evenly (without having to flip each individual chunk).