Grilled Meat and Vegetables: Better Together
So you’re off to a good start getting the grill ready using our Kick Ash Basket and Can. You’ve got all your grilling essentials ready to go, and now it is time for you to plan a barbecue! You know how to grill steaks and chicken, but you’re stuck figuring out what vegetables to throw in with it. Meat is usually the star of the show, but for once we would like to focus in on the supporting role that deserves just as much attention: the vegetables. After all, they are just better together. Let’s start off with some basic principles for grilling these under-appreciated side dishes:
Rules for Grilling Vegetables
Grill over medium-hot heat: Vegetables don’t do so well scorched, so it is important to not make your grill too hot. You can check to see if you have the right temperature by extending your hand five inches above the grill grate. If you are able to hold it for three to four seconds, the temperature is about right for grilling vegetables.
Cut vegetables to the right size: You want to maximize the surface area of the veggie to increase browning, and thus flavor. It is also important that they aren’t cut so small that they slip through the grill grate, though with a high quality stainless grilling pan like this one from Weber Grills, this won’t be an issue.
Brush with oil: With the exception of corn, it is helpful to brush a little extra virgin olive oil on the vegetables before you grill in order to keep them from sticking to the grill grate. To minimize mess, you can do this by putting the veggies in a pan, and then brushing them with oil before putting them on the grill.
Keep rotating: You don’t want burnt veggies, so keep attention to them by turning them often. They should ideally be tender and have streaks of grill marks, not huge blotches of char.
Grill meat first: When using a charcoal grill, it is best to grill the meat when the grate is hottest. When the fire dies down a bit, then is a good time to put on the vegetables.
Good Vegetables to Grill
Photo by Dragne Marius on Unsplash
Corn on the cob has got to be one of the all-time favorite vegetables for grilling. You can grill these babies with or without the husks-- it is up to you. If you leave the husks on, it is a good idea to partially shuck the corn, leaving the husks attached at the end. Get rid of the silky hairs as much as you can. Season the corn with salt, pepper, and butter if you choose, then cover it back over with the husk. Keeping the husk on helps the corn steam a bit more, making them even more tender. However, if you are looking to eat the corn soon after they come off the grill, take the husks off. Husk or no husk, corn on the cob takes about 10 minutes on the grill. For a real treat, try this recipe for Elote, or Mexican Street Corn.
Best meat to grill with corn: To go with the classic corn on the cob, we recommend hamburgers, steak, grilled chicken, or BBQ chicken.
Cut the woody ends off, toss lightly with extra virgin olive oil, and season. Asparagus goes really well with garlic and parmesan. Slap on the grill for two to four minutes, or until tender. It’s quick and easy!
Best meat to grill with asparagus: The classic go-to accompaniment with asparagus is grilled salmon. Many other types of fish go well with asparagus, like haddock or cod. We also strongly recommend grilling chicken alongside asparagus.
Although quite an underrated selection for your day at the grill, green beans actually work out great! Simply toss them in oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic and let them marinate for 30 minutes. Then toss them on the grill for about 10 minutes, or until tender. We also like to add a bit of parmesan cheese and a splash of lemon juice to tingle the taste buds!
Best meat to grill with green beans: We like ‘em with chicken, steak, salmon, and pork tenderloin.
Cauliflower can be prepared in several ways on the grill. How you cut the head of cauliflower influences the cooking time. You can cut it up and cook the florets in foil so they don’t fall through the grill grate. You can also cook the whole head, which could take 45-60 minutes. Another good option would be to cut the cauliflower into 1-inch steaks, which is a popular vegetarian choice instead of meat. Here is a good recipe for grilled cauliflower steaks.
Best meat to grill with cauliflower: Grilled cauliflower is quite versatile, but we like it with grilled fish or chicken.
Cut the stem end off the sprouts, toss them in oil, and season as desired. Pack them in a foil pouch and throw them on the grill. After five minutes, open the wrap and stir. The total cooking time should be about 15 to 20 minutes. Some edges will be soft, and others will be charred and crispy.
Best meat to grill with brussel sprouts: Go with chicken or fish.
Slice your zucchini into thick strips, then toss them in oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings. Toss the veggies on the oiled grill grate, and cook for about two to three minutes on each side, or until tender.
Best meat to grill with zucchini: Zucchini is quite versatile; you can set it beside any piece of meat.
This may sound a bit crazy, but stick with us on this one. Cut the top one to two inches off the top of the head, and then slice off the brown part of the stem, still leaving the stem intact so it doesn’t fall apart. Make a quick vinaigrette with olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Brush the head of lettuce with the vinaigrette, and then place on the grill for a minute or two on each side until lightly browned. Try this as a twist to your classic Caesar salad!
Best meat to grill with romaine: We recommend grilling chicken with romaine lettuce. Incorporate grilled romaine and grilled chicken into this BBQ chicken salad recipe:
2 Grilled chicken breasts, seasoned
6 Cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 Roma tomato, diced
¾ Cup canned corn kernels, drained
¾ Cup black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ Cup diced red onion
¼ Cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ Cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ Cup Ranch dressing
¼ Cup BBQ sauce
¼ Cup tortilla strips
Place grilled romaine in a bowl, topped with grilled chicken, tomato, corn, beans, onion, and cheeses. Finish with Ranch, BBQ sauce, and tortilla strips. Enjoy!
Cut peppers in half, and remove the seeds. Brush the peppers with oil, then place on the grill, skin side down. Cook the veggies for about 10 minutes until nicely charred. Remove the skin before eating, and sprinkle with salt. Grilled bell peppers work well in omelets, salads, or simply on their own.
Best meat to grill with bell peppers: We recommend grilling up a good rib-eye steak with bell peppers.
Our favorite mushroom varieties for grilling are portobellos or cremini. You can skewer them, foil them, or try one of our handy grill baskets. Whichever way you choose, make sure to brush them with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for four to five minutes on each side if using skewers. If using foil or a grill basket, stir after four to five minutes, then continue cooking until tender. Finish by brushing on melted butter, minced garlic, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. If you are looking for a nice vegetarian option or are trying to keep your meal on the healthy side, try this grilled portobello mushroom burger recipe.
Best meat to grill with mushrooms: Try grilled mushrooms with this grilled flank steak recipe. You can’t go wrong by adding a few onions to the grill as well.
Photo by Victoria Shes on Unsplash
You can use either metal or wooden skewers for veggie kabobs, but if you use wooden skewers, it is wise to soak the skewers for 15 to 30 minutes in water before putting them on the grill-- this prevents them from burning. Cut your vegetables the same size, and pack them tightly together. Our favorite vegetables for skewers include zucchini, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, corn, cauliflower, broccoli, and tomatoes. Brush with oil, season, then sprinkle your favorite herbs.
Best meat to grill on skewers: You could do chicken or steak, depending on what vegetables you pick out. We really like this good BBQ pineapple chicken skewer recipe-- and yes, we can even get a bit fruity on the grill!
2/3 Cup BBQ sauce
2/3 Cup teriyaki sauce
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
2 Pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Cups pineapple chunks
1 Red bell pepper, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 Sweet onion, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
Combine BBQ sauce, teriyaki, garlic, and ginger. Set aside ½ cup of the mixture, and marinate the chicken in the rest, leaving for two to eight hours. Drain the marinade, then assemble chicken, pineapple, bell pepper, and onion on skewers. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill until the chicken is cooked through and registers at 165°F, or about 10 minutes. Brush the skewers with remaining ½ cup of sauce.
We hope you have picked up a few great tips on preparing your vegetables, and what meats to best pair them with. Happy grilling!