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Plant Power 101: How to Grill Vegetables to Perfection

The produce at your local grocery store is full of fresh flavor. You can find juicy peaches, magnificent mushrooms, crunchy greens and sweet corn ready to eat and enjoy. 

Believe it or not, grilling is a great way to prepare these colorful crops. Barbecuing fruits and veggies will unlock a world of flavor, improving texture and making your meal much tastier.  

Get ready to learn all about grilled greens with tips to help you prepare, season and grill your favorite flavorful vegetables. 

There are so many vegetables that go great on the grill.  

You can grill virtually any veggie—corn, mushrooms, leeks, squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, asparagus, beets, cauliflower, parsnips and more! The grill caramelizes a vegetable’s sugars, enhancing its sweetness. Grilling also imparts a subtle smokiness and softens veggies that are typically hard and less palatable when raw. Grilled vegetables are savory and delicious, especially when tossed with simple seasonings like salt, freshly cracked black pepper and other spices. 

Discover the wide selection of fresh vegetables available at Raley’s, Raley’s O-N-E Market, Bel Air and Nob Hill. 

There are many ways to enjoy grilled veggies. You can add your vegetables to a salad, use them on a burger or as the finishing touch atop a grilled steak. Or grab a skewer and your favorite fresh produce to make a veggie kabob. To combine meat with veg, try Raley’s beef and vegetable or chicken and vegetable kabob, two tasty combos that hit the spot. 

Grilled vegetables offer endless possibilities. And it doesn’t hurt to get creative, so don’t be shy to try a new-to-you vegetable. You might just find a flavorful favorite the whole family will love.   

Follow these simple seasoning tips to get the most out of your grilled veggies. 

You don’t want to mask that grilled veggie flavor with overpowering spices, so it’s usually best to keep things simple. 

First, cut veggies like mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, onions and Brussel sprouts in half lengthwise. You can grill other produce whole, including tomatoes which grill great on the vine (while botanically a fruit, culinarily speaking, tomatoes are vegetables). Drizzle the veg with olive oil and add salt and pepper. This is a simple combo that enhances flavor tremendously. 

But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can also add garlic, which brings a welcome warmth. Don’t forget about your favorite fresh herbs—dill, parsley, thyme, basil and mint bring bright, sweet flavor to the table. A drizzle of maple syrup or honey works wonders if you crave something sweet. Spice lovers can sprinkle a dash of cayenne pepper or paprika into the mix.   

Grilled vegetables deliver complex flavors all on their own. Keep things simple with spices you already have in your pantry, and you’ll end up with something truly delicious.  

Grill lean and leafy vegetables quickly and directly over the heat. 

You can use either direct or indirect grilling methods with vegetables. Let’s talk direct grilling, which calls for bringing the grill to about 450 degrees and placing the veggies directly over the heat.  

Here’s a breakdown of the types of veggies best suited for direct grilling.  

Corn is the rock star, a summer classic and the perfect side to any main course. It combines that juicy crunch with a salty, fatty and ultra-savory flavor. There are several great ways to prepare corn for the grill. One way is to gently peel back the husk without removing it. Rub the kernels with oil or butter and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place corn directly over the heat, occasionally turning until the kernels are opaque and slightly charred. Let it cool, remove the husk and devour! 

In addition to corn, leafy greens like romaine lettuce, kale, chard and bok choy go great over direct heat. Roast the outside leaves, leaving the center cool, crisp and crunchy. Remove leafy vegetables from the heat after just a minute or two.  

Or try thin vegetables like asparagus, green beans, okra, snap peas, scallions and broccolini. But be careful. These delicate greens can fall through the grate. There’s no harm in placing veggies in tinfoil for a cleaner cook. You can also pin them with toothpicks and put them directly over the heat. They are ready to enjoy when browned and tender. Be sure to watch carefully as you can easily overcook vegetables like asparagus. 

After searing directly over a flame, veggies like broccoli, eggplant, sweet potatoes, zucchini and onions taste terrific. You’ll want to slice these up for more control over the cooking process, but once you do, tasty grilled flavor is just minutes away.  

Indirect grilling is a lower and slower method best for firm, thick and dense vegetables.  

Indirect grilling requires you to put the veggies to the side, off the heat, and cook at a lower temperature for a more extended period. You’ll need to grill anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the thickness of your veggies:  

  1. Bring your grill to 350 to 400 degrees. 
  2. On a gas grill, turn on all burners. 
  3. When it hits the desired temperature, turn off one bank of burners and put the vegetables on the grill. 
  4. When using a charcoal grill, lump the charcoal to one side. 
  5. Bring the temperature up, then place your vegetables on the grate over the side with no charcoal.    

Use indirect grilling for vegetables like squash, whole cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Indirect grilling is great for thicker vegetables because it allows you to cook them completely without scorching them over high heat. Cut these vegetables in half, then season and place on the grill. Close the lid and let them cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Pull them when browned and tender to your liking. 

For extra smokiness, add wood chips. You can’t go wrong with oak, hickory or alder chips. Mesquite is a popular choice, but know that it packs a smokier punch. Use wood chips from fruit and nut trees for a tangier smoke flavor. If you’re using a pellet grill, try a hardwood blend 

Enjoy delicious grilled vegetables all year long. 

Now is a great time to venture into the wonderful world of grilled vegetables. They are easy to prepare with simple seasonings you probably already have on hand. With a minimum amount of preparation, you can grill up savory, great-tasting vegetables your whole family will love. 

For locally grown produce that satisfies your taste buds, shop Raley’s in-store or order online! 

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