“Eat more vegetables.”
“But it’s summertime, I’m grilling.”
“Then grill vegetables.”
”But how? They are all different shapes and whatnot and I don’t have special vegetable grilling equipment.”
“You don’t need any.”
”Really? What kind of vegetables are easy to grill?”
See below 😄
How To Grill Vegetables Without Any Special Grilling Equipment
Grilling vegetables is not about having special equipment. Although companies sure want you to believe otherwise, saying you’ll need a grill pan or a vegetable grill basket, etc. Rubbish. When fire was first accidentally used to cook food (read the story here), there was not much equipment available and I heard the food was delicious. 😄
What Are The Best Vegetables To Grill?
The ones that are in season. The ones you like most. Any (I won’t cover grilling corn here because that by itself is an article and a half).
The best vegetables to grill are the ones that are ripe in your garden. But of course, not everybody has a vegetable garden, so the next best thing is going to the market.
My favorite way to put together a nice medley of grilled vegetables starts with my eyes, looking around the available vegetables at the market. Colors. Bright red bell peppers, dark green zucchini, earthy brown portobellos, purple eggplants, etc.
How To Prepare The Vegetables Before Grilling
Each type of vegetable will have its own perfect cooking time. The idea is that each type of vegetable should be cut in evenly sized, even-thickness pieces. Similar size pieces will have similar cooking times. For example, if you’re cutting eggplant into ½” slices, you should cut all the eggplant into ½” slices. Also, if you have different-sized tomatoes, try to cut them all into similar size pieces.
Peppers: remove core and seeds, quarter
Onions: peel and quarter
Eggplant/Zucchini/Squash: cut lengthwise in ½“ slices or rounds
Asparagus: cut off woody ends
Tomatoes: cherry and grape tomatoes leave whole, larger ones cut in half
Portobello mushrooms: I like them whole
How To Season The Vegetables
Place all vegetables in a bowl - except for the onions, they easily fall apart when mixed in a bowl so I like to season them separately.
Add olive oil, kosher sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and gently toss the vegetables with your hands, trying to evenly coat all veggies with oil. Add more olive oil if needed.
If you have some fresh oregano in your herb garden, shower your tomatoes with them.
My portobello mushrooms also get some soy sauce treatment to bring out the umami flavor even more.
How To Grill Vegetables
When it comes to grilling, I use wood or charcoal. Gas will never create the unique charred flavor that makes these grilled vegetables irresistible. Because different vegetables have different grilling times, you could either work with two heat zones to be able to grill them all together at the same time...or with one zone and cook them for different amounts of time.
I prefer one zone. It’s a little more hands-on cooking but you’ll get a nice high heat. It doesn’t just soften the veggies, it brings out the best flavors as well. It takes quite some heat to caramelize an onion, which is exactly what you want.
So once your charcoal or firewood is ready to go, slightly oil the cooking grate and you’re ready to grill. Group your vegetables according to cooking time.
Here’s a handy list with approximate cooking times:
Peppers/Onions: 10 minutes (about 5 minutes per side)
Eggplant/Zucchini/Portobello Mushrooms: 8 minutes (about 4 minutes per side)
Tomatoes/Asparagus: 6 minutes (about 3 minutes per side)
Tip: The magic word in the cooking times above is “about.” When you grill with wood or charcoal, it’s really important that you use your senses. Every fire burns differently, the distance between the coals/wood is different, and the size of your cut vegetables is different. Cook these vegetables with your eyes and the touch of your tongs. If they start to char too quickly, don’t be shy about moving them to a cooler area. Play conductor: the tongs are your batons and the vegetables are your ensemble of musicians 🤣
Once you like the way the vegetables look and feel, remove from the grill and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle them with some flaky sea salt (nothing beats Maldon in my opinion) and squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice all over.
Tip: Under-salting is probably one of the biggest mistakes home cooks make. How do you know your food is perfectly salted to bring out the maximum flavor? Cut off a little piece of the vegetable and add some more salt. See what happens. Does it taste even better? Or too salty? The perfect amount of salt is the amount of salt before it’s too salty. It’s a fine line, so better be safe than sorry.
Serve as a side dish or a main. I love to slather my grilled vegetable with a fresh homemade chimichurri sauce.
Note: Grill some extra vegetables while you’re at it. They keep very well in the fridge for up to five days and can be added to salads, sandwiches, and even make a nice additional topping to Wednesday’s frozen pizza 😀
Do you love grilling? Check out a few more of our recipes now!
- How to Grill Steaks (and nearly every thing else perfectly, every time)
- Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings You'll Go Wild For (and 5 sauces too!)
- Mouthwatering Grilled Saltimbocca
And maybe a few summertime side dishes and desserts too!
- Best Homemade Cole Slaw Recipe
- Loaded Macaroni Salad
- Tomato Gazpacho
- A Chimichurri Recipe You'll Want to Put on Everything
- Cherry Tomato Salad with a Warm Garlic-Shallot Dressing
- Fresh Fruit Tart
- Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
- Peach Shortcake
- Thirst-Quenching Strawberry Cocktail & Mocktail
Did you make Grilled Vegetables? Let us know in the comments below!
- 2 bell peppers, remove core and seeds, quarter
- 1 large red onion, peel and quarter
- 1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise in ½“ slices or rounds
- 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in ½“ slices or rounds
- ½ lb asparagus, cut off woody ends (and save for a soup)
- 2 medium tomatoes, cut in half; or a bunch of grape tomatoes, leave whole
- 2 large portobello mushrooms, I like them whole
- ¼ c olive oil (or more)
- Juice from a half lemon or lime
- Generous pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- Start your charcoal or wood fire grill and create one or two hot zones (see article).
- Clean, peel, and cut all vegetables and place in a bowl. Except for the onions, they easily fall apart when mixed in a bowl so I like to season them separately.
- Add olive oil, salt, and pepper, and gently toss the vegetables with your hands, trying to evenly coat all veggies with oil. Add more olive oil if needed.
- Once your charcoal or wood is ready, add lightly oiled cooking grate and wait a few minutes to heat up (that will give you the nice looking grill marks).
- Add vegetables and cook one side at the time. If they char too quickly, move them to a less hot zone on the grill. (for cooking times for a variety of different vegetables, see full article at https://maplewoodroad.com/food/how-to-grill-any-vegetable/)
- Once they’re all done, transfer in a big bowl and sprinkle some flaky sea salt on top.
- Squeeze the juice from a half lemon or lime over the veggies and serve as such or with a homemade chimichurri sauce.
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