May 28, 2010

Grilling Vegetables..

Most recipes on grilling vegetables don't go beyond washing, trimming and placing them on the grill.. is it that simple? errr.. yes!!! but maybe no.
Though grilling gives vegetables a smoky flavor, the spice lover in me feels it can  be tastier. So what I like to do is marinate most veggies in a light marinade. Earlier, we used to just marinate veggies in the Italian dressing....which really works beautifully but now I just throw together some spices and olive oil and that's it. The proportions keep changing.. more garlic sometimes, some paprika sometimes, some cumin...play with it. 
Most veggies do well on the grill, but some really stand out--asparagus, corn, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers (bell or hot), onions, cauliflower. Most vegetables cook better and are less likely to stick if marinated first or brushed lightly with cooking oil just before grilling. For added flavor, sprinkle grilled vegetables with fresh herbs.
To avoid scorching or overcooking, you want the grill fire to be medium-hot.(Test the temperature by
holding your hand 5 inches above the grill grate; if you can hold your hand there for only three to four seconds, the fire is medium-hot.)To grill, place vegetables on a piece of heavy foil or on the grill rack directly over the preheated coals.  If putting them directly on the grill rack, oil the rack and lay them perpendicular to the wires of the rack so they won't fall into the grill. Grill, uncovered, for time in chart or till tender, turning occasionally. Watch closely to prevent charring. Direct heat works best so I alternate between placing them on the foil and then on direct heat.


Grilled Potatoes: You can also grill baby potatoes by threading them on to a kabob skewer although boiling them first cuts down the grilling time. Big potatoes grill slowly but nicely and you can wrap them in foil to stop the skin from burning while the inside cooks. Use the red skinned small potatoes and cut them into halves or quarters. Boil water with a pinch of salt and drop the potatoes in and cook for 4-5 minutes. Not fully cooked, just to aid the cooking. Drain and dry and toss with olive oil, some herbs of choice, salt, pepper etc and place in a tray or foil or on skewers and grill till the outside is crispy(12-15 minutes). The potatoes sometimes are better controlled and crispy roasted in a pan in an oven.

Grilled Asparagus:
Preheat grill for high heat. Lightly coat the asparagus spears with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.(Add more spices if you like). Grill over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or to desired softness.

Grilled Eggplant:
The long slender light Purple eggplants are best for grilling as cook really fast, but you could use regular eggplant too. Marinate the eggplants in a mix of sumac( a sour spice from the Middle East, substitute with lemon juice if you can't find it. It adds a tanginess with too much sourness.), olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and cilantro or parsley leaves. Marinate for 2-3 hours. Adjust taste to preference.
Preheat the grill for high heat. I grill the eggplant on a oiled foil or on a oiled slotted grill tray. Place the eggplants and cook for 4-5 minutes on each sides. It will start looking limp and translucent as it gets cooked. If you are using the fat eggplants, cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices and cook for about 8 -10 minutes on medium heat.

Mushrooms:
Marinate and then grill for 8 to 12 minutes, turning every 3 minutes
It is important to skewer small button and cremini mushrooms to keep them from falling through the grate during grilling.


Corn on the Cob/Bhutta
Grill corn in the husk for
8 to 10 minutes, turning every 11⁄2 to 2 minutes. Or grill corn directly on the grills, turning every minute or so to evenly roast it. Sprinkle with butter for kids, and red chili powder and salt for the adults.. I still like my corn with the street taste of chaat masala.

Bell Peppers:
Cut  into 1-inch-thick slices and after marinating, thread onto metal skewers.Grill for  7 to 9 minutes, turning once. You can cut them into wide slices and thread each piece twice to keep it intact.
A quick grilling can bring out the natural sweetness of peppers and soften their tough flesh, but overcooking results in bitter skins that may become partially detached. 


Red or Yellow Onions: 
Easily done. Cut into thick slices or square dices(big quarters),  just brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and grill for 8-10 minutes. When they are done, they turn transparent and start browning, so check your timing with the oven.

Zucchini or Yellow Squash:
Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, or into rounds and marinate with olive oil, salt, lemon juice and grill for just 4-6 minutes each side.If you like it softer, grill  on lower heat for another 5 minutes.

Sometimes, precooking helps soften the veggies. This is what I found on one of grilling websites. It helps in grilling perfectly cooked vegetables if you are short on time.
Asparagus Snap off and discard tough bases of stems. Precook, then tie asparagus in bundles with strips of cooked green onion tops. Precooking Time:3 to 4 minutes Grilling Time:3 to 5 minutes
Fresh baby carrots Cut off carrot tops. Wash and peel. Precooking Time:3 to 5 minutes Grilling Time:3 to 5 minutes
Eggplant Cut off top and blossom ends. Cut eggplant crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Precooking time:Do not precook. Grilling Time:8 minutes
Fennel Snip off feathery leaves. Cut off stems. Precooking Time:Precook whole bulbs for 10 minutes. Cut bulbs into 6 to 8 wedges. Grilling Time:8 minutes
Sweet peppers Remove stem. Quarter peppers. Remove seeds and membranes. Cut peppers into 1-inch-wide strips. Precooking Time:Do not precook. Grilling Time:8 to 10 minutes
Leeks Cut off green tops; trim bulb roots and remove 1 or 2 layers of white skin Precooking Time:10 minutes or till tender. Halve lengthwise. Grilling Time:5 minutes
New potatoes Halve potatoes. Precooking Time:10 minutes or till almost tender Grilling Time:10 to 12 minutes
Zucchini Wash; cut off ends. Quarter lengthwise into long strips. Precooking Time:Do not precook. Grilling Time:5 to 6 minutes
Crookneck squash Rinse, trim, and slice 1 inch thick. Precooking Time:Do not precook. Grilling Time:5 to 6 minutes

I will add photos as and when I take them.. Else this post will not get done before summer is over.This should be enough to get you all started.
Here is an interesting looking roasted vegetable recipe that I came across for those who want to start out roasting in the oven.

5 comments:

Jyothsna said...

Merci beaucoup! If it's sunny tomorrow, I should be grilling and this post will certainly help! So what's the recipe for the tangdi kabab?;)

Parita said...

I love grilled vegetables! Very nice informative post!

Miri said...

Thanks for the tips! Most people dont even know they can grill vegetables so beautifully!

Aparna said...

Even potatoes grill beautifully. It seems that I don't do enough of it though. :(
Should remedy that.

Srivalli said...

wow lovely tips and notes Shaheen..loved your tandoori paneer too..thanks a lot!..:)