Armed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a set of tongs you can grill just about any vegetable that comes in your CSA share. I’ve never had a grilled vegetable I didn’t like, but there are a few tips for success. Some vegetables taste great with just a bit of char and not much time on the grill – like the pictured Hakurei turnips above – but for firmer roots and winter squash you’ll want tender vegetables with charred edges for the best flavor. I like to use a gas grill, the flavor of a charcoal grill is unbeatable, but I love the convenience of gas. I also find it a little easier to control.
For gas grills, I get the best results when I crank up the grill and preheat at least 15 minutes. Let it get really hot. Quick cooking vegetables will take just a minute or two per side. For longer cooking vegetables, char each side, then turn the middle burner to off or low. Move everything to the middle and let it cook through before removing from the grill.
For charcoal grills, use direct heat for quick cooking vegetables, and indirect heat to finish longer cooking vegetables. Because I typically use gas, here are some great charcoal grilling tips.
Don’t have a grill? You can fake grill marks with a cast iron griddle, and finish off in a pan or the oven. I love my Lodge cast iron griddle, and the flat side is also great for pancakes and fritters.
- Cabbage – Cut into wedges with the core intact. Brush each side with a little cooking oil and grill a few minutes per side until sides are nicely charred, but cabbage is still a bit crisp. Slice for a salad or serve each wedge topped with dressing. Try Grilled Cabbage Wedges with Caper Vinaigrette, Grilled Napa Cabbage with Peanut Dressing.
- Kale, chard, etc. I like to leave the stems on these and just lightly char the edges. Stay close by while grilling. Remove the stems and chop leaves for salads. Greens should be soft with darkened edges. Grill the stems as a side dish or discard. Try Grilled Kale Salad, Grilled Swiss Chard Stems, or Grilled Kale Caesar Salad.
- Lettuce. On our list to try this year! Grill lettuce as you would cabbage, serve dressed with a crumbled cheese, pickled onions, and bacon for a hearty salad. Vegetarians can swap toasted pecans or walnuts for the bacon.
- Turnips, radishes, etc. I like to just char the outsides of these and leave the middle firm. Serve whole or halved over a bed of greens like these Grilled Hakurei Turnips.
- Potatoes, Carrots, Beets, Celeriac, etc. Can all be grilled but will take a little bit longer. I like to use a grill basket or foil for these. Preheat the grill, then reduce the heat to medium, or if it has a temperature gauge around 400°F. Peel and chop the roots into cubes or chunks around 1 inch in size. Toss with minced garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh or dried herbs. Grill on foil or in a grill basket for 20 – 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Winter Squash – For peeled cubes, use the same method as for root vegetables. For wedges, break down your squash, then toss with olive oil and seasonings. Grill on high to get grill marks on each side, then turn grill down and cook 10 – 15 minutes more until softened. Turn frequently.
- Peppers, zucchini, broccoli, tomato, etc. Grill these quick cooking vegetables with olive oil and seasoning just a minute or two per side. Try Grilled Pepper Salad.
- Eggplant. Slice eggplant into thick slices and sprinkle salt all over both sides. “Sweat” the eggplant for 20 minutes or so until you can the water on the surface. Dry with a towel or salad spinner. *Some people prefer to skip this step – it’s up to you! Try Grilled Eggplant with Mozzarella, Sesame Noodles with Grilled Eggplant, or Grilled Eggplant with Miso Dressing.