Isn’t that just beautiful?! This simple grilled vegetables recipe relies on the natural beauty and freshness of quality vegetables to shine, not lots of cooking trickery to coax ingredients into tasting good. I believe in this in general, good quality ingredients are the key to great cooking. Even the best chef will fail if they try to make mediocre ingredients taste great. Starting with fresh, healthy, beautiful and, preferably, organic veggies makes your job as the chef easy. Also, a lot of grilled vegetables recipes over-do-it in my opinion, let that freshness show through!
But this isn’t my original idea! Many chefs far and wide before me have preached the importance of fresh, quality ingredients. Richard Olney and Lulu Peyraud taught a whole generation, including famous chefs like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, that local, fresh, beautiful raw ingredients are the most important part of fine food, whether simple or complex. Heck, all these ingredients taste great fresh and raw right out of the garden! So why doctor them up so much that they barely resemble their natural beauty. In fact, I seem to recall reading somewhere that when asked “If you only had $20 and were asked to bring a dish to a dinner party, what would you make?”, Wolfgang Puck said he would spend it all on beautiful fresh organic vegetables, simply grill them and serve them in a beautiful arrangement. Wolfgang Puck knows how to cook complex, but he also knows that sometimes simple is best.
The grilled vegetables recipe instructions below are simply a general guideline, you can alter the recipe slightly to suit your tastes, including a different mix of veggies, using a hint of other flavoring ingredients like a few sprinkles of chopped basil or thyme or other herbs you have on hand. But like I tried to impress upon you above, if your raw ingredients are great, just let them shine simply and unadulterated.
By the way, another favorite way to grill veggies is to wrap them in foil packets. That method really suits firmer root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, leeks, onions, parsnips, turnips, celery root and others that need a bit of time to cook and soften up. The result is a bit more tender and a bit wetter. This recipe on the other hand is good for veggies which are great raw as well, just cooking enough to add a bit of smoke flavor and caramelization but not until they are mushy. They should still have a little bit of fresh “snap” to them when done.
What you will need:
- An assortment of fresh, organic vegetables: This is really up to you. In my recent version I included beautiful vine-ripened tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, and home garden grown radishes. Again, this dish is best with veggies that taste good raw as well, so you can use that as a guide.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Quality sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
How to cook this Simple Grilled Vegetables Recipe:
- For this grilled vegetables recipe, the first step is to prepare your veggies. They don’t need much preparing actually, just to be cut into pieces that can be easily served and eaten. I prefer to leave them in large chunks, both for the beauty of them and to make them easier to grill. Besides, biting into a nice big, slightly crunchy piece of vegetable just feels fresher and more healthy than little chopped up bits. As you can see from the picture above, the broccoli is left in larger “trees”, the radishes and tomatoes are simply sliced in half and so on. Actually, leaving them almost whole and even with a bit of their greens on them just adds to the natural beauty of them and lets your guests see the beautiful, fresh ingredients that went into your dish.
- Prepare your grill for moderately high direct heat. Meanwhile, lay out your veggies on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. For these grilled vegetables recipes I believe having enough salt really brings out the natural flavors of the veggies. Pepper on the other hand can be a bit overwhelming to the subtle flavors of the veggies if you go overboard so I just use it sparingly to add a bit of bite to the flavor.
- Because the different veggies have different textures and firmness, I prefer to cook them separately so that I can control closely how long they are on the grill and prevent overcooking anything. This is ok because the dish doesn’t need to be served piping hot. In fact, I think it is better once they have cooled down a bit and are just a bit over room temperature. So start out with the bigger, harder veggies, such as the carrots and/or radishes, first. Simply place them on the grill over direct heat. Don’t leave the grill unattended, because they cook pretty quickly and remember that the goal here is not to cook them until they are mushy. You just want them to start to get a bit of brown/black grill marks on them and to soften a bit, but retaining some of their fresh crunch. Once they are done to your liking, simply remove them to a foil-covered bowl or platter and add the next veggie to the grill. The softer fruits/veggies like tomatoes do not need much time at all, just enough to warm up and get some nice grill marks.
- Once all the veggies are done, either mix them gently in a bowl or present them on a platter. If you like, you can drizzle a small amount of additional olive oil on them and sprinkle a bit more finishing salt. And that is it!
Serve up those beautiful veggies in the bowl or on a platter so that all your guests can marvel at their natural beauty!
Enjoy this grilled vegetable recipe!