Vegan grilling makes my heart sing. Grilling vegetables on the barbecue is all part of the delicious fun of summertime. As a kid, our family enjoyed cookouts at least once or twice a week. But in those days, meat was about the only thing that went on the fire. As I grew older, we learned more about the art of grilling and best preps for veggies on the grill. Vegan grilling to perfection over a fire is part of a rite of passage for any cook in my book. In this post, I am going to show you a few of my favorite vegan grilling tips and how to prepare them.
How to prep your favorite veggies for the grill
The 11 vegetables featured below for vegan grilling are my favorites to throw on the barbecue outside, or grill ahead of time for a picnic. Each vegetable has a different texture, so they will take different lengths of time to cook. Some chefs say certain vegetables taste better if you soak them in a brine, add oil, or parboil. I feel a lot of that depends on your own preference. If you can forego the salt or use some spice blends as substitutes, like as we think in our diets, and other spices can provide just as much fun in your mouth.
Remember to clean and grease up the grill. Ideally, vegan grilling is on a separate frill than the carnivores. Do your best to keep the sections separate when sharing a grill, so you don't worry about animal grease.
Personally, I prefer little or no oil in my cooking. Yet I don't want the veggies to stick, in case I didn't brush enough oil on the food, so I always prep the grill.
To oil or not to oil in vegan grilling
Using a brush or a spray to oil your vegetables can save a lot of needless extra oil in your dishes. I've seen many cooks pour oil straight onto the vegetables and let it sit there, soaking it all up. For me, the lighter the better. I like to taste the fresh produce, not the oil. If you want to go completely oil-free, try a grill mat for non-stick veggies.
Another way to keep your veggies from sticking to the grill is to season them well. Some people add extra pepper or rubbing blends, for example. You've got all summer to experiment! The preps below are basics, and you can add your own seasoning choices.
Eggplant – Aubergine
Eggplant has a rich taste off the grill. Cut off and discard the stem end of the eggplant. Leave the skin on for grilling so the eggplant slices keep their shape on the grill and are easier to handle. You don’t have to eat it, but it's tasty and loaded with nutrients.
Cut either slice lengthwise about 0.2 inches / ½ cm thick or into 3/4 inch / 2 cm thick diagonal, crosswise, or lengthwise slices. Eggplant is one of the few vegetables that I brine. At this point, soaking the slices in salted water for a half hour and no longer than an hour helps the eggplant hold its shape. You can skip the brine if you're going to make a dip from it, or want the mushy texture for another recipe.
Brush with a little oil if you like and sprinkle with salt or your choice of spices. Squeeze lemon juice over it. Then grill until tender and grill marks appear, about 4-5 minutes on each side. If you love your olive oil, drizzle it on at the end, and even another squeeze of lemon for good measure, before serving.
Zucchini – Courgettes
Zucchini is a fun, easy vegetable to grill. Trim the ends, and always leave the nutrient-rich skin on.
Cut the squashes in half lengthwise or into lengthwise slices for thicker ones. If you prefer medallions, I suggest you put them in foil or use a grill basket. The small rounds easily fall through the grates.
Brush with a little oil (or not, as long as you have non-stick options) and sprinkle with salt or herbs. Squeeze lemon juice over the slices. Then grill until they get crispy lines and a tender juicy middle, just a few minutes on each side.
These babies are easy and fun on the fire. I simply throw them on the grill, either with or without oil, and keep turning until they're charred. Alternatively, you can slice off the stem. Cut into halves or quarters depending on the size.
These first three vegetables are also delicious when cubed, grilled, and tossed together into a ratatouille recipe. Cook them separately, though, to be sure you don't overcook or undercook any of them. You may want to add grilled onions or garlic, too.