Grilling Great Veggies in Seven Easy Steps

Jun 10, 2013

Culinard Featured Article - Grilling Great Veggies in Seven Easy Steps

Summer is a time for grilling, no doubt, but it's also the time for the freshest produce we'll enjoy all year.

Kimberly Walton, chef instructor with Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College, is passionate about grilling summer vegetables. Here are seven secrets that she says will ensure your starring role at your next BBQ.

Use fresh ingredients. Shop at farmer's markets and roadside stands whenever possible.

Wash up. Rinse produce in cool water for about 30 seconds. If your vegetables feel waxy, fill the sink with approximately 2 gallons of water. Add a quarter cup white vinegar and let the veggies soak for a few minutes. As Walton says, "You'll be amazed at what comes off."

Keep it simple. Toss vegetables in extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a little salt and pepper. Bottled Italian dressing can also make a quick, great-tasting marinade.

Cook each vegetable separately. Because of texture differences, bell peppers will take longer to cook than squash. By isolating each vegetable on the grill, you can individualize cooking time and ensure even roasting.

Grill on a medium heat. It's easy to overcook vegetables if the flames are running too hot. You want vegetables seared on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.

Try eggplant. To get the perfect slice, she suggests cutting a medium eggplant in half, then into quarters. "Take the seeds out," Walton says. "When cooked, the seeds of zucchini, squash and eggplant get mushy." Lightly salt the sliced eggplant, and let it sit for 20 minutes before rinsing and patting dry. "This pulls out bitterness," Walton says. Brush with olive oil, and you're ready to grill.

Cook extra portions. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for three to five days. When you're ready to eat, toss the grilled vegetables in additional vinaigrette and eat as a cool salad.

When it's time to crank up the grill, use these tips to give fresh produce a starring role. From peppers to peaches, cooking over open flames can add a layer of flavor to any meal.

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