Frank's tips for grilling vegetables



Posted on May 24, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 13 at 2:35 PM

The methodology is relatively simple—cut whatever you intend to grill into evenly sized pieces (slices if you want to grill them on the grate, cubes if you want to put them on a skewer).  Then either marinate them in an oil-based flavoring agent or brush them with the marinade all during the cooking process.  

There are some guidelines you should follow if you want to produce perfectly grilled veggies:

1—To prevent scorching or overcooking, you want the grill fire to be medium hot.  Cooking at “low” yields a dried out, rubbery vegetable; grilling at “high” almost always produces a burned or near-burned, unevenly cooked vegetable.

2—Just before placing the veggies on the grate, first spray the grate with a light coating of non-stick Pam. . .then liberally brush the vegetable pieces with olive oil (or a favorite flavored oil).  Next, immediately season the pieces with fresh ground sea salt and black pepper.  

3—If you soak your grilling vegetables in “cold water” for about 30 minutes before dropping them onto the grill you will keep them from drying out.  Technique-wise, though, after the soaking thoroughly pat them dry before you brush on the olive oil.  

4—Small cuts of a variety of vegetables should be grilled in a “grilling basket” to keep the pieces from falling through the grate.  

5—You can use a few drops of dark sesame oil in your marinade baste to add an extra delightful taste to whatever you’re grilling.  

6—When you’re grilling corn on the cob, leave the husks on the ear; just pull them back to get access to the kernels. Then remove the silk and cut off the tip of the cob.  You will get a much more flavorful ear of corn if you then soak the ear in cold water for about 30 minutes.  Then when you’re ready to grill, dry the ear, brush with butter, fold the husks back down, and tie the ends in place.  Ideally, they will be ready to eat in 6 to 8 minutes.  Just give them “quarter turns” periodically throughout the grilling process.

7—There is a “trick” to grilling garlic: take the whole bulb, cut off the root end, brush it with olive oil, and place it cut side down, this time over a “hot fire.”  They take about 10 minutes to cook completely—you will know when they’re ready when the skin turns a rich brown.

8—Some grillers like to grill potatoes that have been par-boiled.  Personally, I think they lose a lot of their inherent flavor when done in that manner.  I prefer to put them on the grill raw: cut them either into thin slices (about a half inch thick) or into wedges.  Then place them on the grate, again over medium hot heat, brush them every now and then with extra virgin olive oil or Italian salad dressing,  and grill until they turn a tantalizing brown.  Yams can be done the same was as regular potatoes.

9—As for the remainder of the vegetables, common sense should dominate your technique:  eggplant grills best when it is cut crosswise;  zucchini or yellow squash grill best when you use the smallest ones you can find so that you can cut them in half lengthwise; asparagus turn out best when they are grilled and turned and basted constantly; cabbage should be sliced into relatively thin wedges and brushed with the marinade the whole while they’re grilling (and turn them often, too); cut bell, Pablano, Anaheim, and banana peppers lengthwise (top to bottom), remove the stems, seeds, and white membranes, then liberally brush with Italian salad dressing as they grill.


What goes into the making of marinades and basting liquids used in grilling vegetables?  Essentially, any formulated combination of limes, cilantro, extra virgin olive oil, Italian salad dressing, white granular sugar, light or dark brown sugar, hot sauce, salt and black pepper, chopped fresh basil and thyme, Balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, dark sesame oil, Dijon mustard, lemon and/or lime juice.  A sprinkle or two of your favorite bottled vegetable seasoning adds a crowning touch to the finished veggies when they come off the grill.

Recipe # 1:
¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
¼ cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
¾ teaspoon Frank Davis Vegetable Seasoning
½ teaspoon granulated sugar (white or brown)
½ teaspoon Frank Davis Garlic Cayenne Hot Sauce
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Wisk all the ingredients together.  Use either as a brush-on marinade or pour over all the prepared vegetables in a zipper-lock plastic bag, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for up to 4 hours.  Grill as directed.

Recipe # 2:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Wisk all the ingredients together.  Use either as a brush-on marinade or pour over all the prepared vegetables in a zipper-lock plastic bag, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for up to 4 hours.  Grill as directed.

Recipe #3 (Asian)
3 finely minced green onions
4-1/2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
1-1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
½ teaspoon Frank Davis Garlic Cayenne Hot Sauce

Wisk all the ingredients together.  Use this only as a brush-on marinade before placing the veggies on the grill.  Then brush on again when turning the veggies over halfway through the grilling process.  Grill as directed.

Of course, for an almost hassle-free method of grilling vegetables, instead of creating complex marinades and  bastes, you can use “straight from the bottle” Italian salad dressing (with extra extra-virgin olive oil added, of course) to brush on your vegetable varieties as they cook.  Just remember to salt and pepper the vegetables even after they’ve been brushed with the salad dressing.

Also keep in mind that a variety of bottled vinaigrettes (I like the Vidalia onion kind best) makes for good brush-on bastes for vegetables.  In fact, be daring—try using other salad dressings for your vegetables on the grill.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the flavor you could come up with!