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Vegetables and Fruits on the Grill

May 14, 2013

For many, grilling is all about the main course—meat, poultry, or fish. But that is too limiting for a true brazier professional. Vegetables, or even fruit, also taste great off the grill. With these tips, and a little practice, you may find yourself firing up the grill just for the side dishes.

Grilling vegetables

Most veggies love the grill. Asparagus, for instance, rocks the grill. But corn (of course), mushrooms, peppers, and onions all perform well. And don’t ignore eggplant—the caramelizing nature of the flames, a light marinade, and a touch of smoke brings out eggplant’s—or any vegetable’s—full flavor and makes your summer soiree memorable.

Veggies with lots of water, like cukes, celery, and leafy greens are best used in cool side dishes. Let the others take center stage on the grill.

Tips:

  • Corn: My favorite way is to grill corn in the husk. First, soak the corn (in husks) in cold water for 1 hour. The place corn (still iSteven Raichlen Potato Grill Rack at CHEFScatalog.comn husks) on the grill (medium heat). Turn every few minutes with tongs. After 4 or 5 turns (10-12 minutes) the husks will be charred but not burnt. Remove the corn and carefully remove the husks, using cooking gloves or similar. Scrape away remaining husk, season to taste, and enjoy.
  • Potatoes: Potatoes are the perfect vegetable for the grill. They are so easy, you can grill them while cooking other items and you don’t even have to watch them closely. There are several methods for grilling potatoes, but we like using a potato grill rack. Brush your spuds with olive oil or butter and season with spices for delicious results.
  • Mushrooms: Clean in cold water. Place in plastic container or sealable bag. Add enough extra virgin olive oil (about 3 ounces) to coat the mushrooms when gently stirred or shaken. Place in refrigerator for an hour. After the hour, place mushrooms on a medium temperature grill and turn frequently until the surface is a nice golden brown (10-15 minutes).
  • Eggplant: To reduce the bitterness, cut to size and soak about an hour in lightly salted water. The eggplant will start turning brown the second it is cut. This does not affect the flavor. Cut small eggplants lengthwise into halves or quarters depending on the size. Lightly brush with oil and season. Grill pieces on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove when well browned and tender.
  • Tomatoes: This one’s easy-peasy. Cut tomatoes in half and, using your fingers, gently remove the watery pulp and seeds. Season with salt and pepper, brushing the cut side with olive oil. Place tomatoes in a grill basket (also brushed with oil), cut side down, then place on the grill. Close grill and cook 4 minutes, checking after 2. Remove from grill and place on serving plate, drizzle a little more olive oil and sprinkle with thinly sliced basil.
  • Small vegetables: Cherry tomatoes or sliced veggies are best grilled on kabobs or in kabob baskets.

Grilling fruit

Grilled peaches at CHEFScatalog.comWait, wait, wait! Grilling fruit? Seriously?

Fruit is a natural for the grill. The heat of the flames concentrates the flavors by reducing the water content and caramelizing the natural sugars. And it’s very easy to do.

Almost any fruit can be cooked on the grill. Hard fruits such as apples, pineapples, and pears are easier than softer fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums, and papaya, but all are doable. Softer fruits simply require more attention and only need to be heated, not cooked.

 

Tips:

  • Cool heat: Grill fruits when your coals have begun to cool or place them on the outer edges away from the heat for a more indirect heat. See chart below.
  • Don’t skin ‘em: Skins help the fruits, softer ones in particular, maintain their shape.CHEFS Nonstick Shaker Grill Basket at CHEFScatalog.com
  • Brush up: Coat fruit with melted butter or your favorite oil with a basting brush during grilling to reduce sticking. A non-stick cooking spray on the grate is also a good idea.  
  • Size of pieces: Most are best grilled by cutting the fruit in half—or if that’s too large, into pieces that big enough to not fall through your grate. If you prefer smaller pieces, use skewers or a grill basket. Using two skewers will help prevent fruits from spinning. If your skewers are bamboo, don’t forget to soak them for 30 minutes or more before using.
  • Enhancements: Try sprinkling with sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar, or lemon juice while grilling. Sugar tends to burn so it is best to apply it toward the end of your cooking time.

Fruit/Vegetable

Slice/Thickness

Heat

Cooking Time

In Minutes

Fruits

 

 

 

Apples

½-inch slices

Medium/Direct

4-6

Apricots, pitted

Halved

Medium/Direct

6-8

Bananas

Halved lengthwise

Medium/Direct

6-8

Peaches, pitted

Halved

Medium/Direct

8-10

Pears

Halved

Medium/Direct

8-10

Pineapple

½-inch rings

Medium/Direct

7-10

 

 

 

 

Vegetables

 

 

 

Asparagus

½-inch thick

Medium/Direct

6-8

Corn (no husk)

Whole

Medium/Direct

6-8

Corn (husk)

Whole

Medium/Direct

8-10

Eggplant

½-inch slices

Medium/Direct

8-10

Fennel

¼-inch slices

Medium/Direct

10-12

Mushrooms (button)

Whole

Medium/Direct

8-10

Mushrooms (Portobello)

Whole

Medium/Direct

12-15

Onions

½-inch slices

Medium/Direct

8-12

Potatoes

Whole

Medium/Indirect

45-60

Sweet peppers

Whole

Medium/Direct

8-10

Want to know more about grilling? Check out our other blogs on the subject here at CHEFS Mix:

Your Turn: What's the most unusual item you've ever grilled? What did you think?

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Tags: Grilling Tools, vegetables, Fruit