In Florida, we’re fortunate to be able to grill nearly year-round. Most masters of the barbecue gravitate toward burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and steaks; grilling vegetables, however, requires precision, care, and some specialized knowledge.
“With meat and fish, you would typically salt [it] before putting it on the grill,” says Jeff Mitchell, owner/chef at The Local. “Salt leaches out the moisture from vegetables and makes it difficult to get good flavor from them, so salt them after cooking. Remember that vegetables also have sugars, which will make them caramelize.”
Mitchell’s tips for the home cook are simple: preheat the grill; keep it clean; brush it lightly with grapeseed oil before putting anything on it; and oil your vegetables. Know where your hot spots are; vegetables are more likely to burn than meat or fish.
Another local veggie grilling enthusiast is Shannon Morgan. This vegetarian participated in an Eggfest cookoff sponsored by the manufacturers of the Big Green Egg and fell in love with the Kamado-style grill. She serves as a brand ambassador and creates recipes such as cauliflower wings and beet burgers.
With vegetables, she advises keeping the temperature at 350 and reducing the amount of flame. “Before cooking, raise the grill grate to keep the vegetables away from the heat source. There’s always the risk of having them drop through the grate, so use a perforated grill pan or skewer them together to form a kebob. Kamado grills retain heat well and make it easy to control the temperature, so feel free to experiment—people need to realize how versatile vegetarian cooking can be.”