A few minutes of high heat is all it takes to transform your favorite vegetable from tasty to mouth-watering. Grilling or broiling gives vegetables a crispiness and depth of flavor they don't have raw or boiled, without adding tons of fat and calories. Eat finished veggies plain, toss them with rice or chicken or load them into a baked potato -- there's no wrong way to enjoy a perfectly cooked vegetable.
Virtually any vegetable can be grilled or broiled, but some are more suited to this method than others. Pick veggies that are hearty enough to stand up to high heat, both in flavor and consistency. Leafy greens and pea pods aren't ideal for cooking this way, but peppers, eggplant, asparagus, zucchini and sweet potatoes are all well-suited for grilling and broiling. Wash vegetables thoroughly and trim off any inedible parts. The smaller the vegetable pieces, the faster they'll cook through; cut large vegetables into chunks or slices no larger than 1 inch thick. If you're using starchy items like sweet potatoes or carrots, boil them until they're nearly fork-tender, then slice and grill to finish them off. Before grilling corn on the cob, pull back the husks and soak the corn in water for about 15 minutes, suggests North Dakota State University.
Whether you're grilling or broiling them, consider first dosing your vegetables with a bit of added flavor in the form of a marinade. Any oil-based marinade will work. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and fresh herbs for a basic marinade, and let the veggies soak for an hour. Push vegetable chunks onto skewers, or grill each piece on its own. If you'll be grilling, you may opt to enclose vegetables in a foil packet and steam them rather than placing the pieces directly on the grill. This method is low in fat, since the pieces don't have to be oiled before cooking. Colorado State University Extension suggests spraying a sheet of foil with cooking spray, arranging the vegetable pieces and topping them with a second sheet of foil. Roll the two foil sheets together at their edges to seal the packet.
Grilling methods vary. Use a grill pan on your stove, place veggies in your grill's vegetable basket or place them directly on the grill's grates. If you haven't marinated your vegetables, toss them with olive oil before placing them on the hot (but not smoking) grill, or brush oil directly onto the grill grates. The Clemson University Cooperative Extension suggests grilling vegetables for 10 minutes, flipping them twice in that time. One exception is corn, which can take up to 30 minutes to cook. Keep a close eye on the grill. Remove the vegetables when they've developed grill marks on both sides; if you're cooking a mix of vegetables, some might be done before others. If you're enclosing veggies in a foil packet, carefully open it after 10 minutes and prick the pieces with a fork. If they're tender, remove them; if not, reseal the packet and grill for another few minutes.
Broiling is just as easy a cooking method as grilling. Turn on your oven's broiler and position a rack 6 to 8 inches under the broiler. Pull out a broiling pan or metal baking sheet and brush it with oil if your vegetable pieces aren't oiled or marinated. Veggies should be arranged in a single layer so they'll cook evenly. Set the pan under the broiler. The more delicate the veggie, the more quickly it will burn, so keep a close eye on the pan. Tomatoes will start to brown in just a few minutes, while asparagus might take eight or 10 minutes. To add extra flavor, sprinkle parmesan cheese over your veggies for the last minute under the broiler, just long enough for the cheese to brown and turn crunchy.
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