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How Do I Barbecue Vegetables?

By Malysa Stratton Louk
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cooking on a grill is a popular summer activity that many continue year-round, and it does not have to be limited to burgers, steaks, poultry and kabobs. You can barbecue vegetables, as well, either as an accompaniment to traditional grilled meat or as an entire vegetarian meal. It is possible to barbecue vegetables, such as corn on the cob, onions, other whole vegetables and vegetable kabobs, directly on the grill. Sliced, chopped or mixed loose vegetables can be grilled in a grill basket or wok. Choosing whether to barbecue vegetables separately or alongside meat will likely depend on the size of the grill and the desired cooking method.

Fresh vegetables are better suited for grilling than frozen or canned vegetables are. Large or whole vegetables such as corn on the cob, onion slices and halved bell peppers can be placed directly on the grill and cooked until tender. For corn on the cob, the whole cob should be soaked — with husks on — in cold water before grilling to prevent the husks and silk from catching fire. Other vegetables should be lightly coated in olive or vegetable oil and grilled over low heat to prevent burning and scorching. The vegetables should be checked often and turned or rotated for even cooking.

Small vegetables or vegetable combinations require the use of a grill basket or grill wok to prevent them from falling through the grill grate. Such vegetables can be cut to the desired size and placed in a bowl. Any spices, herbs and other seasonings, along with a little oil, sauce or marinade can be added to the bowl. The vegetables should then be tossed until they are completely coated and evenly mixed. The basket or wok should be preheated, whether on a gas, charcoal or electric grill, before the vegetables are added; the vegetable pieces should be stirred or turned frequently as they cook until they reach the desired doneness.

Another option commonly used to barbecue vegetables involves the use of wooden or metal skewers. Large chunks or slices of vegetables of almost any variety — zucchini, summer squash, whole mushrooms, eggplant, potatoes, or cauliflower, to name a few — should be sliced, seasoned and skewered. You also can add fruits such as pineapple or tomatoes. Chunks of the same vegetable can be placed on the same skewer or chunks of several different types can be used. The loaded skewers should be placed directly on the preheated grill and cooked until tender, turning often for even cooking.

If you prefer not to use a grill basket or skewers, then you also can barbecue vegetables in aluminum foil. After the vegetables are combined and prepared, they can be placed in the center of a piece of aluminum foil. After the sides are folded up and the edges pinched together, the foil packet can be placed on the grill. The length of time for cooking using any method depends on the type of grill, the size of the vegetables and the desired crispness or tenderness of the finished product.

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