Grilled meat or seafood taste a lot better with grilled vegetables. One way to grill vegetables is on the grate of your grill. But due to the small size of many vegetables, they often fall through the grate. But to get the job done easily and more conveniently, you can use a grill basket. In this article, we would be sharing our step-by-step guide on how to grill vegetables in a basket. Grilling vegetables brings about caramelization, which is why grilled vegetables taste so great. You can grill any vegetable in a basket from winter squash to cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes, broccoli, Brussels, and more.
Grilling Vegetables in a Basket Step by Step
Using a basket to grill vegetables is easy and very convenient. With a grilling basket, you can chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces without worrying about it falling through the holes of the basket. Note that there are different recipes you can use to grill vegetables. But in this article, we would be looking at the general steps to grilling vegetables. Without further ado, let’s jump right into this guide.
1. Choosing the Right Basket
The first step is grilling vegetables nicely is by using the right vegetable basket. When choosing a grilling basket, a lot of factors comes into play like the size of the basket, and the type of material used in making the basket. Note that most grilling baskets are made with stainless steel material and are nonstick. The nonstick feature is important as it is perfect for grilling veggies and delicate fish through a standard grilling rack.
While not all grill comes with a rolled handle to provide you with a good grip for heavy barbequing. Also, ensure the basket you choose has higher sides to prevent the veggies from flying out while stir-frying vegetables or meat in the basket. One feature to look out for in a grilling basket is the hole size. Make sure the hold on the grilling basket is small enough to prefect food from slipping through.
2. Select the Vegetable for Grilling
After choosing the right basket, sort out the veggies you want to grill. While you can grill almost any vegetable on a grilling basket, some vegetables require some preprocessing. Some of the most favorite grilled vegetables include zucchini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, red onions, and bell pepper. Take note, small vegetables like carrots, eggplants, and zucchini are great for grilling. Here is a rule of thumb, with about 3 pounds of trimmed fresh vegetables, you can make 8 servings.
When we said some vegetables require some processing, we mean, some vegetables cook faster than others. Typically, most vegetables need only about 10 minutes to be ready to enjoy. So, if you want all your vegetables to be done at the same time, everything in the grilling basket should be of similar density. Or you can also steam vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, or microwave for a few minutes until they are crisp-tender before grilling in the basket.
3. Wash and Slice the Veggies
After sorting out the vegetables you want to grill, and taking note of the processes you want to use to cook them, put them in clean water for washing. Almost all vegetables are sprayed with pesticides during cultivation to increase yield. As such, washing your veggies before consuming them is very vital. While you can use ordinary water to wash your vegetables, it is not as effective in removing the pesticide as washing it in a warm saline solution. Mix 2 tablespoon of salt in about four cups of warm water, to allow the salt to dissolve. Allow the water to cool down, then soak and wash your vegetables in it for about 20-30 minutes
You must wash the vegetables before slicing to prevent the loss of essential phytochemicals from the vegetables. Also, while washing, be careful not to squeeze too much, as that can also contribute to the loss of nutrients. Slice the vegetables to small bite sizes, or however, size works best with the recipe you are working with. Slice bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and onions into wedges, and small vegetables in half, lengthwise for grilling.
4. Prepare and Drizzle the Marinade Over the Veggies
At this stage, you’re one step away from putting the veggies in the grill. At this step, you would have to prepare a marinade and drizzle it over the veggies in a bowl. Unlike meat that needs to sit for hours to properly marinate, veggies take only a few minutes. The marinade to use depends on your preference and the recipe you’re trying to replicate.
You can prepare a marinade with virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs like thyme, tarragon, oregano, and so on. Mix the marinade in a small dish, and then drizzle it over the fresh, sliced veggies. Use a tong to distribute the marinade into the vegetables by tossing them. Allow marinating for at most an hour before tossing it into the grill.
5. Heat the Grill
The best grill to use for grilling vegetables is a charcoal grill. And as you already know, a charcoal grill can be quite a hassle to ignite. Notwithstanding, you can also use a gas grill to grill vegetables. Whatever the case might be, turn on your grill and set it to medium heat. Ensure you preheat your grill for 10-15 minutes before placing the grill basket in the grill rack. Preheating your grill will help ensure the grill is hot enough to prevent the vegetable from sticking to the basket.
Grilling vegetables at a temperature too high would not create that unique aroma as the vegetable would be too charred. Ensure your grill is well set with no fluctuation in the temperature while grilling. When you turn on the grill, close the lid to allow the heat buildup. Even when you put the grilling basket with vegetables in the grill you would also need to close the lid to allow the vegetables to cook properly. Although you would need to open the lid periodically to turn the vegetables while it cooks.
6. Arrange the Vegetables in the Grill Basket
The next step to take is to transfer the vegetables to the basket using a tong. Here’s a tip to make grilling vegetables in a basket easier; grease the basket with oil before arranging the vegetables in the basket. While most grilling baskets are nonstick, the oil greasing will ensure the vegetable grill properly and not stick to each other or the basket itself.
Arrange the tough vegetables that take a longer cooking time first at the bottom of the grilling basket. On top of that, arrange the vegetables that cook easily. By doing so, you cause the vegetable to cook and be ready at the same time. Do not overload the grilling basket to ensure even heat distribution and infused smoke penetration.
7. Turn Vegetables with Tongs
Grill the vegetables over medium heat until they are tender and golden brown. Keep a close eye on the vegetable while grilling, and ensure it does not overcook. Any marinade left at the bottom of the dish after transferring the vegetable to the grilling basket would at this stage to baste the vegetable as it grills. Use a tong to turn the vegetables or shake the grill basket itself.
Take note, some vegetables cook faster than others. So, while grilling takes note of those vegetables that are done. Remove the cooked vegetables to allow the other to continue to cook. Some vegetables like carrots and potatoes can take as long as 45 minutes to cook. While other tender vegetables like mushrooms and tomatoes cook very quickly.
8. Turn off Heat
Toss the vegetables in the basket every three or four minutes to prevent them from burning. Also, while grilling, you can add more seasoned oil with a brush. Taste for tenderness as you grill to ensure the vegetables are well cooked throughout. When the vegetables are cooked to your satisfaction, remove the basket from the grill and turn off the grill.
After turning off the heat, allow the vegetable to sit for a while, as this promotes further cooking, and allows the juice to spread, giving you that deliciously grilled veggies. Serve the veggies as a side over rice, lining a tortilla, in pasta, or any way you love to enjoy grilled vegetables.
In conclusion, it’s not hard to use a grill basket for vegetables. With this simple guide on how to grill vegetables in a basket, anyone can easily grill vegetables. Remember the best way to grill vegetables is over high heat for a few minutes without stirring then at medium heat for the remaining grilling period. For some reason, this gets some of the juices cooked out of the vegetable to start the nice charring effects. A vegetable grilling basket lets you cook an entire meal on a grill, giving you more opportunity and time to enjoy with friends and family in the great outdoors.