When it comes to grilling, those grill grates are not just reserved for meat and seafood. Grilled vegetables and grilled fruit can make great sides to go along with the meat you’re cooking up and enhance the flavors of your main dish.
But, cooking these things on the grill does take some special preparation and care to ensure they don’t end up unevenly cooked or charred to a crisp.
If you are searching for “how to grill vegetables” or “how to grill fruit”, look no further. We went straight to the pros for answers and we’ve got everything you need to know. In this article, we’ll break down some insider tips on how to achieve deliciously grilled vegetables and fruit. Let’s take a look:
In general, vegetables and fruit that are firmer and not overripe are going to hold up better on the grill and still get some great caramelization. The heat caramelizes sugars in fruit and vegetable and weakens the structure, so items that are delicate or very ripe will fall apart quickly.
When selecting your vegetables and fruit to grill, opt for what is currently in season locally versus items shipped in from a long way away. Local produce will be fresher and riper which means it will taste better and be easier to grill.
When preparing your vegetables and fruit, make sure to cut the items as evenly as you can. It will make it much harder to grill things evenly if you have pieces of varying shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. For items you’re cutting, a 1/2-inch thickness at minimum works best for most types of vegetables and fruits.
Make sure to cut each vegetable or fruit so that you get the biggest area possible to put in direct contact with the grill grates. The more direct contact there is, the better flavors you’ll get because there is more surface area that will be caramelized. Keep in mind, most fruits are fairly fragile so the larger you can cut the pieces the better they’ll hold up on the grill.
When cutting produce into multiple pieces, strips and rounds will always cook better and more evenly than in chunks.
Source: Daily Herald
Grill baskets are an essential accessory and should be your best friend when trying to cooking small vegetables and fruits on the grill. Some items, like cherry tomatoes or berries, are great on the grill but could easily fall between the grill grates. Grill baskets will allow you to still cook these items easily and get some great smoke flavor and caramelization.
A great grilled vegetable and fruit item is kebabs. When doing grilled kebabs, things will go much smoother if you pair similar items together. Grill softer vegetables, like tomatoes and mushrooms, together on the same skewers and firmer vegetables, like onions and peppers on the same skewers. Likewise, keep fruits together on the same skewers. Keeping similar items together will make it much easier to cook everything evenly.
Of course, you can do vegetables and fruits mixed on the same skewer, but be prepared to watch these closer and shift them away from the direct heat more frequently.
Source: California Olive Ranch
Vegetables and fruit need oil to help prevent them from sticking to the grates and burning. When you’re ready to oil the pieces to go on the grill, opt for good oil will not only help them cook easier but can also enhance the flavor. Extra virgin olive oil will improve the flavor of virtually any vegetable you want to grill. For fruits, a neutral oil that holds up to high heat, like saffron oil, will work best and not compete with the fruit’s flavor.
Brush just enough oil on the items to coat each side thoroughly but not so much that the oil is dripping off. If that is the case, you can quickly end up with a grill flare-up.
The other advantage of using oil when grilling vegetables and fruit is that the oil will also help any spices and seasonings stick better. After you apply the oil, season the vegetables or fruit generously with your desired seasonings. (Insider tip: grilled mango with Tajin seasoning is outstanding!)
When it comes to how to grill vegetables and fruit successfully, one of the most important things to remember is to not leave the grill for too long. As the items caramelize, they can go from seared perfectly to burnt very quickly if you’re not careful.
To prevent this from happening, grill your vegetables and fruit over indirect, medium-high heat. Also, make sure to turn them often and move them to cooler parts of the grill as needed. To achieve some great seared grill marks, place the pieces over the direct heat side of the grill for just a few minutes without moving them. (This is where a two-zone grill setup comes in handy) But, also keep an eye on the grill and check the items every couple of minutes.
Firmer and larger vegetables and fruit, for example, onions, fennel, pineapple, and melon, will take longer to grill. But, each type of produce will be different in how long it should be grilled. That is why it is so important to cook to the desired firmness versus strictly following a set cooking time.
It is usually good to cook firm vegetables and fruit to midway between crisp and tender. Of course, if you want them to be more tender you can grill the pieces for a few minutes longer. But it is very important to watch them to prevent them from starting to burn.
When cooking the larger, firmer pieces, you can close the grill lid for a few minutes at a time to help them cook. Just make sure to check for doneness every 5 minutes or so.
As you can see, by following the tips above, you can cook some great grilled vegetables and fruit to help add some color and round out your meal. When it comes to how to grill vegetables and fruit, it’s all about preparation, timing, and keeping an eye on your grill. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different types today!
Do you have a favorite fruit or vegetable to grill? Let us know! We want to hear all about it.
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