I’m not here to knock a good char-grilled burger or Chicago’s famous “char-dog”—they’re summer staples. But what about spring, when beach and pool season is on the horizon, but you’re still in your winter body? Grilled vegetables offer all of the smoky goodness with none of the guilt.
Most vegetables fare well on the grill and between flavorful marinades and spiced-up rubs (find one of each below), the variations are endlessly delicious. Skip the butcher counter and head instead for the farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal choices.
Tips for successful vegetable grilling:
- Clean and oil grill grates then preheat grill to medium-high before adding vegetables.
- Slice round vegetables (like eggplant and zucchini) into rounds to maximize surfaces to grill.
- Thread smaller vegetables (like cherry tomatoes) or cut-vegetable pieces onto skewers so they don’t fall through grill grates while cooking. If using wooden skewers, soak in water before use to prevent burning.
- Partially pre-cook thick or hearty vegetables like potatoes or carrots until tender before grilling.
- Vegetables dry out with direct heat, so make sure to either use a marinade or brush them with oil before placing on grill.
- Once on grill, sear vegetables on hotter section of grill for a crisp exterior then move to cooler grill area to complete internal cooking.
- If you don’t want direct heat on your vegetables, you can steam them on the grill in a foil packet. Spray a large square of foil with cooking spray and lay vegetables, slightly overlapping, in the center. Pull sides of foil up and fold to seal. Place foil packet on grill.
- Keep a close eye on your grilling vegetables. Most will cook in 4 to 10 minutes.
Great grilling vegetables:
- corn on the cob
- bell peppers
- hot peppers
- romaine lettuce
Lemon and Fresh Herb Marinade
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage, chives or others in combinations you like)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. In a heat- and microwave-safe container, warm olive oil in microwave for 20-30 seconds. Pour warmed oil into a container with a tight-sealing lid. Add vinegar, zest, and chosen herbs (I used rosemary and thyme in the marinade pictured).
2. Cover container and shake to blend. Put into the refrigerator until ready to use. Let marinade sit for at least an hour so flavors can combine.
3. Put sliced vegetables in a sealable container and pour marinade on top. Gently shake and let sit for an hour, turning over occasionally to coat all vegetables. Grill and enjoy.
Tip: Add a clove or two of finely chopped garlic for more savory flavor.
Veggie Spice Rub
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 cup olive oil
1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, salt, chili powder and garlic powder and mix together with a fork or small whisk.
2. Brush olive oil onto the vegetables to be grilled then coat evenly with spice rub. Grill immediately and enjoy.
Tip: Add 1-2 teaspoons cayenne for more of a spicy kick.
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