5 Vegetables That Are Great on the Grill

Have you tried grilling these?

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Burgers, steak, and pork chops are considered to be the best kinds of food to grill. Grilling isn't just all about the meats, which is great news for those who love vegetables. If you love to grill, you should learn more about grilling with vegetables and other plant-based foods and how grilling them can be the technique to make them super delicious. It's all thanks to the Maillard reaction, also known as what makes charring food flavorful and amazing.

What Is The Maillard Reaction?

Named for French chemist Louis Maillard (pronounced my-yard), the Maillard reaction is the chemical reaction that occurs when amino acids and sugars in food are heated and moisture evaporates, leaving behind the sugar so it can caramelize. It's this reaction that gives steak its nice browned crust when perfectly seared, chicken skin its browned and crispy skin, and the crust on bread.

The kinds of food likely to activate the Maillard reaction by grilling must be able to not only withstand high heat but also have amino acid and sugar necessary for the reaction to start. When it comes to grilling vegetables, the Maillard reaction doesn't happen with all of them. With this in mind, here are five veggies you can actually cook over the grill.

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1 Mushrooms

While technically not a vegetable, mushrooms are amazing to grill and are one of the relatively few kinds of food that can withstand heat while allowing the browning magic of the reaction to occur. Portobello mushrooms in particular are delicious when grilled, and taste meaty enough for many vegetarians to consider it their substitute for steak. 

For best results, drizzle your mushrooms with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before placing them on the grill. The oil allows the seasoning to adhere to the mushrooms, ensuring that it's seasoned and will penetrate the mushrooms while being grilled. 

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Best of all, minimal knife work is needed to prepare your mushrooms ready for grilling. Just remove the stems from Portobellos, shiitakes, and button mushrooms so that they lie flat on the grill and have the best exposure to both the grilling surface and the heat source.

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2 Bell Peppers

Grilled peppers are an amazing addition to almost any dish, adding a lush, roasted flavor to everything from soups and stews to sandwiches. To grill bell peppers, remember to remove the seeds. These are likely to burn and don't taste good. Then, place the peppers on a grill at medium or even medium-low heat.

You can also split the pepper down the middle and place each half on the grilling surface, cut side up, to cook over high heat. Once the skin begins to blister, flip the peppers over and allow them to cook a bit more. Then, strip the scorched skin away, leaving the roasted, silky flesh. You can even pack these in salted oil or vinegar to use later!

3 Tomatoes

Tomatoes taste great when grilled, and because they have a lot of sugar, they brown well. Unfortunately, they're also very squishy and can make a huge mess while grilling. To prevent this, split your tomatoes in half and lay them skin-side down on the grill set to medium heat. This will allow some of the moisture to evaporate from the tomatoes. Don't touch the tomatoes while on the grill as handling them while hot and tender may squash them. 

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Once the skin has begun to blister, flip them over and expose the core of the tomatoes to the grill so that it cooks evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.

4 Eggplant

Everyone knows how amazing grilled eggplant is when turned into ensaladang talong at kamatis, but even on its own, grilled eggplant is delicious. For a Mediterranean twist, slice the eggplant into rounds, rub cut garlic cloves and drizzle oil on the slices before laying them flat on the grill set to medium heat. Once they've taken on grill marks, flip them over and mark the other side before placing them on a serving platter. Then, just before serving, season with salt and pepper and drizzle them with olive oil and lemon for a refreshing summer treat. You can also use this technique for zucchini!

5 Onions  

Grilling onions instead of just cooking them might sound a bit like overkill, but grilling onions is the leveled-up version of caramelized onions. Since onions contain natural sugars, it's a great candidate for grilling, too. This makes for a great side dish for other grilled food or it can be part of your dish such as a sushi bake recipe. However, if you want to really make things different, char them then wrap them in foil to cook long and slow over low heat so the onions become tender. It's a delicious marriage between charred and slow-cooked perfection.   

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Grilling is not confined to the realm of meat and seafood. Whether as an accompaniment to a main dish or the star of the feast, grilled vegetables are a great way to highlight veggies' best flavors and features while also giving them that roasted taste we all love.

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