Monday, February 25, 2008

Grilling Vegetables - Tips And Techniques

If you have never grilled vegetables on your barbecue before, now is the time to start. It is easy to do and you will experience tastes only obtainable by grilling.

Here are some tips and techniques for preparing and grilling vegetables.

What vegetables are best for grilling?

Almost any vegetable can be grilled, obviously some grill better than others. Here is a list of vegetables that do especially well on the grill:

Corn on the cob, all types of peppers, Zucchini and summer squash, eggplant, asparagus, whole tomatoes, Portabello mushrooms, potatoes, artichokes, fennel, and whole onions.

How to prepare your vegetables for grilling.

For corn on the cob, peel the husks back a little over half way. Do not pull them off completely. Try to get most of the corn silk off, then pull the husks back up and tie them to the cob, then soak the whole ear in water for about an hour before setting over a hot fire on the grill.

You can also do this. When you take the cobs out of the water, untie them and brush them with a mixture of melted butter and chili pepper sauce, salt and pepper, then tie them back up and then put them on the grill. They are really good!

Zucchini should be washed thoroughly, ends trimmed off, then slice the Zucchini lengthwise in one-quarter inch thick slices. Brush with olive oil and place over a hot grill. They will not take long so keep and eye on them. Do not over-cook.

Asparagus can be rolled in olive oil, salt and pepper and placed across the grill and turned occasionally. They are great and again, do not over cook.

Eggplant should be sliced about half an inch thick, salted and placed in a strainer to drain. After about half of an hour, dry the slices with a clean paper towel and brush with olive oil and grill.

Artichokes should be halved lengthwise and placed in boiling salted water for about 15-20 minutes, then drained thoroughly. Brush the cut sides liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper and place cut side down over hot fire.

Whole bell peppers can be grilled till the skins blister and turn black. Then scrape or pull the blackened skin off, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and enjoy. You can also do this with Anaheim chiles and Chiles Poblanos, also known as Ancho or Pasilla chiles.

Russet potatoes should have their skins cleaned thoroughly and dried. Then cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until only half cooked. Let them cool and cut into triangles lengthwise and spray with olive oil, place on hot grill, turning occasionally until brown and crispy.

You will notice that we have used olive oil in all the examples above but you can use peanut oil, walnut oil, or hazelnut oil if you wish. Canola or sunflower oils are just too bland for grilling.

Also, we have been grilling our vegetables directly on the grill but you can also use foil to construct a package for your vegetables. For example, slice a bell pepper and an onion, place in the middle of a large piece of foil, enclose the vegetables after dousing with olive oil and salt and pepper. Seal the package and place on the hot grill. It should be done in about 15 minutes.

You can also prepare a whole onion this way. Skin the onion, cut a cross from the top down three-quarters of the way through the onion, pour on some olive oil and wrap with foil, salt and pepper and put on the grill. Wallah!

There you have a few examples of the wonderful world of vegetable grilling. Now here are some more tips on grilling in general.

If you are going to buy a gas grill, be sure to get one with at least 40,000 to 50,000 BTU's (British Thermal Units) as this will give you enough heat to make those attractive grill marks on your steaks, hamburgers and vegetables.

Vegetables generally are grilled over high heat, so when grilling with charcoal, build a 3-zone fire with the coals piled in a double layer on one side of the grill, then in a single layer in the center of the grill and then with no coals on the other side.

This lets you sear over the high heat of the double layer, cook over the moderate heat of the single layer, and keep your vegetables warm over the coal free zone.

You may want to invest in a vegetable tray. That is a tray with small holes that you can place onto the grill which will hold smaller vegetables like cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves or various sliced vegetables.

Another valuable accessory would be a fish basket. This eliminates the fish from sticking to the grill and flaking-up and falling through the grills.

Stock up with some bamboo skewers for small kebabs and chicken sate (Thai style chicken). To keep the skewers from burning just soak them in water for about an hour before using.

So there you are. This information should give you the confidence to begin grilling those vegetables for your next barbecue party.

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