Top 10 List: Best Veggies for the Grill

We fired up our grill on Sunday, brushed some eggplant and asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, and tossed them on the grill. We love the smoky taste of grilled veggies, especially with a finishing drizzle of  good olive oil. Plus, we’ll take any opportunity  to avoid heating up our kitchen. Which got us thinking … . With all the summer produce available at farmers’ markets and groceries, what veggies are especially good on the grill? We turned to Karen Adler and Judith Fertig for advice. “The ideal garden vegetables for grilling have to be able to stand the high heat, taste delicious when their natural sugars caramelize, and be easy for the griller to handle,” they write in their book, The Gardener & The Grill (Running Press, 2011).

In the book, Adler and Fertig lay out a Top 10 list of veggies well suited for grilling:

Asparagus: Thicker sticks are better on the grill, the authors note. To make it easier, skewer the tops and bottoms of a line of asparagus spears so you can turn them simultaneously.

Broccoli: Not the first veggie to spring to mind when it comes to grilling. But now we want to give broccoli a try. “The secret is to cut the fatter head into long, flatter pieces—or try purple sprouting broccoli, a variety with smaller individual florets,” Adler and Fertig write.

Cabbage: Cut large types of cabbage—green, red, Napa or Savoy—into quarters or eighths. Others, like radicchio or Brussels sprouts, should be halved. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and “grill until you get good grill marks. Easy.”

Corn: Grill in the husk. Or shuck corn and place directly on the grill grate.

Eggplant: One of our favorites. Large, cylindrical eggplants can be sliced lengthwise or into big coins. Smaller baby eggplant or long Japanese eggplant can be grilled whole or halved lengthwise.

Onions: Large yellow, white, or Bermuda onions can be peeled and sliced thickly. Skewer them “lollipop-style” if you want, or just place the slices directly on the grill. Scallions or bulb onions can be left whole. But turn them frequently. Slice leeks lengthwise and rinse out the grit before grilling.

Peppers: You’ve got options with both sweet and hot peppers. Grill them whole, and then remove the stem and seeds before chopping. You can also slice peppers and grill the slices on a grill rack or in a grill wok. For some added flavor, smoke the peppers over indirect heating using wood chips, pellets, or chunks on the fire.

Root Vegetables: Beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas, and turnips should first be cooked in boiling water or the microwave before getting finished on the grill.

Summer Squash: Yellow summer squash and zucchini should be sliced lengthwise for easier handling.

Tomatoes: Big beefsteak tomatoes can be grilled whole or as thick slices. Smaller cherry and currant tomatoes are good on skewers. “Meaty Romas are delicious smoked or wood-grilled,” Adler and Fertig write.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch