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Essential Guide to Grilling Vegetables

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2011

Why heat up your kitchen to cook vegetables when you can get crisp-tender texture and deep, smoky char from your grill? Here are our proven methods for getting the best results.

Asparagus

Prep: Snap off tough ends by holding asparagus halfway down stalk with one hand, then bend bottom half of stalk with other hand until it breaks.

Cook Time: 5 to 7 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: Pencil-thin asparagus will wither in the heat, while bulky specimens will burn before they cook through. If possible, purchase ½-inch-thick spears.

Baby Bok Choy

Prep: Halve head through stem; rinse but don’t dry.

Cook Time: 6 to 7 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: Water left clinging to the leaves will turn to steam on the grill, helping the bok choy cook evenly.

Corn

Prep: Remove all but innermost layer of husk; snip off silk.

Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes, turning every 1½ to 2 minutes

Test Kitchen Tip: By leaving the innermost layer of husk attached, the corn takes on good grilled flavor without charring and becoming tough.

Eggplant

Prep: Slice crosswise into ¾-inch rounds.

Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: There’s no need to salt eggplant destined for the grill. The intense heat will vaporize excess moisture.

Endive

Prep: Halve lengthwise through core.

Cook Time: 5 to 7 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: Keeping the core intact helps the leaves stay together for easy turning.

Fennel

Prep: Trim fronds and cut thin slice from base. Cut bulb vertically through base into ¼-inch-thick slices, leaving core intact.

Cook Time: 7 to 9 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: Cover the fennel with an overturned aluminum pan while charcoal grilling to create an oven-like environment that cooks the interiors before the outside burns. (For gas grills, just use the lid.)

Green Beans

Prep: Rinse but don’t dry.

Cook Time: 6 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: Green beans (choose thick, mature specimens) are the one vegetable for which a grill pan is a must-have.

Mushrooms

Prep: For portobellos, wipe caps clean and snap off stems; for button and cremini, skewer through cap and stem so they are less likely to rotate when flipped.

Cook Time: For portobellos, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once; for button and cremini, 8 to 12 minutes, turning every 3 minutes

Test Kitchen Tip: To keep mushrooms from becoming dry and leathery, brush liberally with oil before grilling.

Onions

Prep: Cut into ½-inch-thick slices, parallel to equator; skewer parallel to work surface.

Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: It’s awkward to flip a skewer by the rounded “handle.” Instead, grasp a centrally located onion slice with tongs and turn.

Peppers

Prep: Halve lengthwise; remove core, seeds, and ribs. Cut each half in thirds lengthwise.

Cook Time: 7 to 9 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: To grill-roast peppers, cook them whole until charred, transfer them to a bowl, and cover them with plastic wrap to loosen their skins. Then remove their skins, core, and seeds.

Radicchio

Prep: Cut head into 4 equal wedges.

Cook Time: 4 to 5 minutes, turning every 1 1/2 minutes

Test Kitchen Tip: For maximum grill flavor, turn each wedge twice so that each side (including the rounded one) spends some time facing the fire.

Scallions

Prep: Trim off root end and discard any loose or wilted outer leaves.

Cook Time: 4 to 5 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: To achieve a well-charred exterior and a tender interior, use scallions that are at least ¼ inch in diameter.

Tomatoes

Prep: For round and plum, halve cored tomato along equator. Squeeze gently and shake out seeds. For cherry, thread onto skewers through stem end of fruit.

Cook Time: For round and plum, 4 to 5 minutes, turning once; for cherry, 3 minutes, turning twice

Test Kitchen Tip: Start round and plum tomatoes skin side up to maximize charring.

Zucchini/Summer Squash

Prep: Slice lengthwise into ½-inch-thick planks.

Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes, turning once

Test Kitchen Tip: Cutting the squash into planks keeps it from falling through the grates and maximizes moisture evaporation.