How to Grill up the Best Vegetarian Barbecue in 3 Steps

Who decided that vegetables are less worthy of gracing the surface of a grill anyway? I'd wager it wasn't the vegetarians. Clearly it was someone who has never sunk their teeth into the meaty flesh of a zucchini or enjoyed the tantalizing scents of a smoky, stuffed eggplant. While barbecue recipes are known far and wide, vegetarian recipes for grilling often go unnoticed. Until now.

Meat eaters, we hear you. You've been serving grilled vegetables for years as a side dish and nothing has been able to hold a candle to your beloved steak. Well, hate to burst your bubble, but the reason your vegetables have been subpar is that you haven't been treating them properly. For produce to really shine to its full potential, you have to treat it as you would a coveted cut of meat. Whether you're whipping up vegetable kebabs, vegetarian burgers, or grilled zucchini with halloumi cheese, the rules are just the same.

So when it comes to your vegetarian dishes, like your stuffed peppers, your roasted sweet potato, and your vegetable skewers, what makes the best vegetarian barbecue recipes? Practice and prep.

The best way to coax barbecue-worthy flavors out of a vegetable is to prepare, season, grill, smoke, and char that veggie like you would a piece of steak or chicken. A good place to start is by addressing the holy trinity of barbecue techniques: seasoning, grilling, and smoking. See where this takes you and then branch out from there.

Seasoning

Just like you would marinate or dry rub your meat, so too should you liberally season your vegetables. Don't be afraid to marinate vegetables overnight or invent a rub. Try ingredients like brown sugar, salt, juniper berries, mint, or curry. Alternatively, you can simply use "made for meat" rubs. There is no reason that they wouldn't be delicious on your cauliflower!

If you want to spice things up with a liquid, try olive oil infused with roasted red pepper or garlic butter that'll make even the most hardcore meat-eaters envious.

Grilling

For most folks (even those with special diets), warm summer nights are just begging for you to go outdoors and grill. Irrespective of your location, be it suburbia or a downtown loft, that charred, hot-off-the-coals taste has an irresistible and universal appeal at summer barbecues. And when we say everybody, we're including the vegetarians.

However, when it comes to grilling vegetables, not everything is created equal. Different plants require different grilling styles. Don't expect one tray of spring onions to be perfectly cooked next to black bean burgers or mushroom skewers.

A good rule of thumb is to look at water content for grilled vegetables. High-water-content veggies like vegetables like peppers, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, and corn need direct grilling to get that nice, charred taste. Dense produce like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets, however, need indirect heat. 

Kebabs, too, are different. Slender veggies should be lined up together crosswise so that they won't accidentally slip through the grill grate and get too crispy.

Smoking

Let's be clear, you won't get the taste of fire if you're not using fire. Luckily, it's pretty easy to do that without using an open flame. For instance, you can use a gas burner flame, char bit of bread and mix them into a sauce, or just add a sprinkle of paprika.

Of course, if you have a grill available to you, use it! So there you have it. Not all healthy recipes for barbecuing are delegated to summer side dish status. Why not true a full vegetable spread on your own grill next Saturday?

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