4 Vegetables We Love Throwing on the Grill This Summer

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At my plant-based culinary school, which is now called The Natural Gourmet Center at ICE, I emerged from eight months of training with two main takeaways: carrot-ginger dressing is amazing, and never underestimate the power of a grilled vegetable.

Though this summer may feel far less festive than those of previous years, there’s no reason to deprive ourselves of the joy of summer grilling. Sure, we may be FaceTiming with loved ones instead of seeing them in the flesh, or cozying up with a book alone as we scarf down some ‘cue, but there’s no denying that grilling is still one of the finest of warm weather pleasures. This summer, we’re loving these five veggies on the grill.


Zucchini on grill

One of the top grilling tips I learned in culinary school was to marinate veggies for around 5-30 minutes before throwing them on the grill to give them a flavor boost, and zucchini is no exception (since it’s an absorbent vegetable, marinate zukes for about 15 minutes; thick-skinned vegetables like peppers can be marinated for closer to 30 minutes). With a balsamic vinaigrette or, yes, miso glaze, this mild-tasting vegetable is a welcoming sponge for flavor.

Cherry Tomatoes

Grilled Cherry Tomatoes
Grilled cherry tomatoes (moshugar/Bigstock)

You may not think to grill these petite tomatoes, but they actually play nice with char and make a beautiful addition to plant-based entrées like pasta salad or a hearty bean salad. Just remember to put them on a skewer before placing them on the grill (ditto for other small veggies like button mushrooms) for easy handling.

Portobello Mushrooms

Grilled portobello mushroom with garlic, olive oil, and parsley
Grilled portobello mushroom with garlic, olive oil, and parsley (pixel1/Pixabay)

Forget Beyond Burgers (for a minute), a hearty ‘shroom on a toasted bun with all the fixings makes for the perfect easy summer meal. Another tip I picked up in culinary school? There’s no need to serve grilled vegetables piping hot, in fact, they taste splendid when served at room temperature with a hit of salt and pepper, and if you’re making a veggies platter, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic.

Romaine Lettuce

Grilled Romaine with green beans, quinoa and smoked paprika sauce
Grilled Romaine with green beans, quinoa and smoked paprika sauce (Gecko Studio/Bigstock)

Yes, you can grill Romaine lettuce. Yes, you should add it to your grilling repertoire pronto. With a mild char, Romaine lettuce is imbued with a more nuanced flavor and serves as a wonderful base for your favorite vegan salad recipes. And, yes, that carrot-ginger dressing we just can’t get enough of.


Grilled watermelon slices with lemon and basil
Grilled watermelon slices with lemon and basil (Olga Miltsova/Bigstock)

Okay, okay, we know it’s not a vegetable, but a thick slab of watermelon on the grill is a summer staple for many, and with good reason. Not only does it taste great eaten plain, but if you chop the watermelon up into cubes after grilling, it lends salads a beautiful note of smoke and sweetness. Got some fresh mint to serve with your grilled watermelon? Even better.

Perri O. Blumberg