As you can see on this video, we are out on another field trip today – but we haven’t really gone too far – just to my backyard – where we are about to grill some of these gorgeous vegetables.
If you’ve seen any of our previous videos, you already know some of the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet and foods that come from plants such as; fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and vegetables; all of which can keep us healthy, protect us from disease and even help us beat a boatload of illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
We’ve sampled quite a few delicious ways to prepare veggies already in Your Healthy Kitchen. But today I’m excited to share some grilling ideas with you because grilling has become one of my favorite quick and easy ways to prepare veggies.
Grilling vegetables doesn’t require special tools, a whole lot of time, or even a whole lot of talent! All you need is a pair of tongs, a few simple seasonings, and of course a grill.
Grilling veggies is easy, but there are a few important things to pay attention to.
The first is the size and cut of the veggies. Smaller cuts will obviously cook more quickly than larger pieces, so keep an eye on the little guys – they’ll burn before bigger veggies are done.
The second thing to pay attention to is temperature. Larger and denser vegetables should be cooked at lower temps or they will get charred on the outside before they are cooked through. Veggies that like higher temperatures and shorter grill times include things like mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, scallions, and greens.
A third thought is whether or not to use oil. I used to coat every vegetable with oil before putting it on the grill, but have learned that some veggies need no oil at all and really taste better, and they really are a lot healthier when grilled without it. Cauliflower, scallions, onions, zucchini and all kinds of peppers and chilies are the easiest things to grill without added oil. Just cut them into the size you like and put them on the fire. That’s all there is to it.
Other veggies turn out better when they have a little oil on them. Oil increases the temperature at the surface of the veggies, allowing them to brown differently, and it also helps keep some of the moisture in the food as it cooks. I add as little oil as possible to my veggies when I cook them on the grill, to reduce smoke and flare-ups. I also like to sometimes use a simple marinade instead of just oil, to add some nice flavor to the vegetables.
Eggplant is a vegetable that needs to be grilled with a little oil – otherwise it dries up and gets real leathery.
Winter squash and beets also benefit from some oil if cooked on the grill. Otherwise they also dry out quite a bit.
I like to cook some of the harder vegetables half-way on the grill –enough to get those nice grill marks – and then wrap them in aluminum foil to finish cooking.
You can also blanch and pre-cook some vegetables before grilling. Blanching is simply dipping vegetables in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, and then quickly cooling them off in a bowl of ice water. . I’ve done that with broccolini. I blanched it and cooled it off, then drained and dried it well. I also tossed it with a little marinade made from a light olive oil (higher smoke point than extra-virgin olive oil), balsamic vinegar, a little tamari and black pepper and then placed it on the grill.
As you can see, with slightly different techniques, you can cook just about any kind of vegetable on the grill. So give it a try- especially if vegetables aren’t your absolutely most favorite part of a meal. After all, if you haven’t been thrilled with vegetables in the past, it may be because you haven’t tried them prepared in delicious ways, like grilled and served with a fabulous sauce or incorporated into a tasty dish.