How to cook perfectly barbecued vegetables
When it comes to cooking, vegetables are often the unsung heroes of a dish. We’re all aware of the great health benefits of a veg-filled diet, but with the huge range of great flavours they have to offer, there’s no reason for veggies to be an afterthought! While meat is often the main focus of any BBQ, with a little planning, you can make your vegetables really shine!
Know Your Vegetables
Given the differences in density between vegetables, some will take just a few minutes to cook, while other can take much longer. Lighter veg like cherry tomatoes and capsicum are easy to cook thoroughly, but when it comes to denser foods, like potatoes, a few extra precautions have to be taken. If you use high heat for too long, you can burn them on the outside, while keeping them raw on the inside. To avoid this, sear your denser vegetables over high heat, and then turn down the heat to finish cooking. Alternatively, you could precook your vegetables, and give them just a few minutes on the BBQ to get some nice colour on the outside.
Use a Little Oil
To prevent your vegetables from drying out, coat them with a little oil before they hit the heat. Don’t use too much though, as dripping oil causes flare-ups and can ruin flavours – not to mention the extra calories! As you apply a light coating of oil, it’s probably a good time to season your vegetables too, which will be made easier with the oil as it will stick more evenly.
Use a Skewer
Smaller veggies like cherry tomatoes and diced zucchini are great when barbequed, but they can be a bit awkward and difficult to manage. To stop these veggies from rolling around or falling though grates, put them on a skewer while you cook them. They can later be removed, or served still on the skewer. Alternatively, you can craft a DIY ‘grill basket’ by folding a piece of heavy-duty aluminium foil in half and curving the edges to create a lip. Place your vegetables in this ‘basket’ to stop anything falling through.
Cook in a Packet
If you don’t feel like watching your vegetables the entire time they’re cooking, try cooking them in packets. Ideal for dense vegetables, lightly coat a piece of aluminium foil with oil and arrange thinly sliced veggies in a slightly overlapping single layer on top. Fold the foil together to form a packet, place on the BBQ, and then cook until the vegetables are tender. When opening the packet, just make sure to be careful of steam!
Prepping Your Veggies
How you cut your vegetables will play a big role in how they cook. If you want them to cook faster, cut them into smaller pieces and use a skewer or ‘grill basket’ to keep them on the BBQ. For round vegetables, like onions, cut them into thin ‘rounds’ for a greater surface area. You’ll get a much crispier outside, and it’ll help them cook quickly.
Know How to Serve
When they’re ready to serve, all your vegetables will need added to them to shine is some lightly drizzled extra virgin olive oil, some lemon juice, a pinch of salt and pepper, and your favourite bread. You can also experiment with flavours by using variants like lime juice, fresh mint, coriander, or balsamic vinegar.
Finally, the best thing about cooking veggies on the BBQ is that there’s a whole lot more room for error than when cooking meat. There are no health concerns of serving imperfectly cooked veg; if they’re a little underdone – they’re al dente, and if they’re a little overdone – they’re char-grilled. In either case, fresh lemon juice and good olive oil go a long way when it comes to hiding any mistakes. So no matter whether you’re a cooking pro or an amateur – give barbecued veggies a go!