How To Grill Vegetables

11/02/2011 12:14 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Grilled vegetables are a quick, easy and healthy side dish for any summer (or year-round) barbecue. Chef David Kamen of The Culinary Institute of America demonstrates how to apply a simple marinade of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and then lays larger vegetables across the grill. He points out that it's easier to grill small veggies in a basket, so that they do not fall through the grates. Keep an eye on browning, tenderness and grill marks to get an idea of when your veggies are grilled to perfection.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Dave Kamen from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to grill vegetables.

Today we'll be grilling some vegetables, and we have a nice assortment of grill-friendly vegetables here. We have some zucchini and yellow squash that have been cut into nice long pieces; we have some asparagus, which is one of my favorites on the grill. We also have some red peppers cut into large chunks, and some fennel bulbs cut into nice thick wedges. And to make them taste even better, we're going to make a really quick marinade.

We'll take some balsamic vinegar, and we add just a little bit of salt and pepper and then a little bit of olive oil. We'll whisk that all together, just enough to coat the vegetables really lightly and give it a nice little flavor. Of course you can put anything you want in there. Some people might add a little bit of honey to this, or possibly some fresh herbs; sometimes I get really radical and put a few drops of soy sauce in there as well. And what we want to do with our marinade is just pour that right over our vegetables. Then we'll just rub that all together: mix that marinade on there real well. Make sure all the vegetables are nice and evenly coated.

Our grill's been preheating now for about twenty to thirty minutes. We want to start by taking a brush and brushing off some of the carbon deposits that were on the grill rods, and any food residue from all the things we've been cooking today; then we'll just take our oil cloth and wipe it down with a little oil. We clean the rods up and lubricate the rods so that our vegetables won't stick.

At this point it's really a simple matter of laying these vegetables on the grill and getting them nice and brown, nice and fully cooked. We'll start off with a piece or two of the yellow squash, then add a couple of pieces of the green zucchini. Vegetables are nice and tender and therefore a great thing to cook over direct heat, so we've got our vegetables over the hot side of the grill.

We want to look for browning, which is typically the way to tell when things are ready to move along. If you look at our yellow squash you see some nice grill marks starting to happen, and they're getting more tender. Same thing on our green zucchini: we've got some nice marks going on there. We'll rotate these around. For the asparagus, we'll just go ahead and turn them a little bit as well. The peppers, too: just turn them around every now and then.

If you're working with smaller pieces of vegetables, you can get a grill basket. You put your small vegetable cuts inside there, and the grill basket sits right on top of the grill and keeps things from falling through. It also makes it easy to turn - just pick up the basket and flip it over all at once. We've got good color on one side here. Give it a few more moments, and they should be ready to pull off.

Let's have another look at our veggies and see how well they're doing. They're getting nice and brown, nice and tender, and they have nice marks all the way around; I think we're ready to pull these babies off. I've got a little platter over here, and I just want to lay these out nice. We'll lay our asparagus sticks up that way.... doesn't this just look great? So we have some nicely grilled vegetables here, all ready for our summer barbecue.

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