5 Elemental Grilled Vegetable Recipes

By Darren Wayland | June 16th, 2020

Earth & Fire, veggies on the grill

Grilled vegetable recipe

When most people think of grilling, they visualize sizzling steaks and juicy burgers. While these classics certainly have their place on the table (assuming youre a meat eater), the grill is a versatile tool thats capable of turning out many more tempting dishes.

Grilling vegetables brings out their natural earthy flavors in ways that other cooking applications cant match. As an added bonus to the chef, it also generates fewer dishes to clean. So what are you waiting for? The next time you fire up the grill, try your hand at one of these deceptively simple recipes.

1 | Grilled Eggplant with Tomato-Olive Relish

Although it requires a bit of advance preparation, eggplant has a dense, meaty texture that allows it to stand up to the heat of the grill. The acidity of the tomatoes coupled with the snappy Kalamata olives and capers provide a nice backdrop to the mellow flavor of the eggplant.

2 small- to medium-size eggplants, sliced 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and minced
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic
2 teaspoons fresh basil, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

Make the relish: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the garlic, tomato, olives, and capers and toss until well combined.

Grill the eggplant: Brush the eggplant rounds with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Grill over medium-high heat until grill marks form and the eggplant is charred on the outside and creamy on the inside, about 5 minutes per side.

Top the eggplant with the tomato relish and sprinkle with minced basil. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

2 | Zucchini

Similar to eggplant but far simpler to prepare, grilled zucchini is the ideal accompaniment to hearty meat dishes. If youre planning on a thick ribeye steak or barbecued pork ribs for dinner, try serving up this tasty dish alongside.

4 medium-size zucchini, sliced lengthwise into planks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Add the zucchini planks and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grill the zucchini: Place the zucchini planks on a medium-hot grill. Cook until grill marks form and the flesh is tender-crisp, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve at once.

Yield: 4 servings

3 | Bell Peppers

Bell peppers have a natural sweetness when eaten raw, but grilling them amplifies the flavor. It also gives the flesh a pleasant molten texture that can be easily puréed for soups and dips. If your grill includes a smoker component, by all means take advantage of it for this recipe.

4 bell peppers (red, yellow, and orange work best)
2 cloves garlic, pressed to a paste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the grill: Set your grill to high heat and oil the cooking grates.

Prepare the peppers: Rinse the peppers and pierce each one in several places with a sharp knife.

Grill the peppers: Place each pepper directly on the cooking grate, as close to the flames as possible. Turn the peppers every 3-4 minutes so that theyre exposed to the flames from every angle. The whole process should take 12-15 minutes.

When the peppers are charred all over, remove them from the grill and place them in a heatproof bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow them to sit for 10 minutes.

Make the marinade: In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the skins, stems, seeds, and inner membranes from the peppers. Cut into 1/2-inch strips.

Toss the pepper strips in the marinade until theyre coated all over. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

4 | Asparagus

Grilling is arguably the quickest and easiest way to prepare asparagus. While you can get the job done with a simple combination of olive oil, salt, and pepper, I believe that the following recipe showcases the best features of this elegant yet humble vegetable.

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic

Heat the grill to medium-high. In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with the oil, salt, and pepper.

Place the asparagus spears directly on the cooking grate. Cook, turning frequently, until charred and tender-crisp, about 5-6 minutes total.

Arrange asparagus spears on a platter and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Sprinkle with Parmesan and garlic. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

5 | Tomatoes

Technically a fruit, yes, but most people think of tomatoes as a vegetable. What other opinions and assumptions you have regarding these ruby orbs, meanwhile, are about to be transformed. These tomatoes are best when consumed shortly after cooking, but they also make a fine addition to a salad or a sandwich the next day.

2 firm vine-ripened tomatoes
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Remove the seeds and pulp from the tomatoes, taking care to preserve their shape as much as possible. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the tomatoes over medium-high heat, cut side down. Cover the grill and allow the tomatoes to cook for about 4 minutes, or until the edges are lightly charred and the skins have shrunk away from the sides.

Arrange the tomatoes on a serving platter, cut side up. Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired, and serve immediately.

Yield: 2-4 servings

Once youve experienced the elemental blend of earthy vegetables and smoky flames, you’ll be tempted to return to these recipes again and again.

Happy grilling!

Feeling adventurous? Try this grilled banana sundae for dessert!

Darren Wayland is founder at BBQ Host, and barbecue is his dream date. “Even better than the classic taste of great barbecue, though, is the camaraderie it brings,” he says. “I love sharing my delicious creations with my friends and family, especially when they’re enjoying the flavors and festivities as much as I am.”

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