Chargrilled vegetables bring great colour and flavour to a barbecue. You can chargrill almost any vegetable, but traditionally you would include eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette), capsicum (bell peppers), mushrooms and asparagus. Learn how to get great tasting chargrilled vegetables here.
The art of chargrilling is all about oiling the grill and not the vegetables first. If you oil the veggies, they smoke big time and burn. There is also an art to getting the criss crossing just right of course, which Jen seems to have perfected over many years. Me – I’m just a beginner but am getting better with practice.
Eggplant will take the longest to cook, and zucchini will cook the fastest, so cook the eggplant first.
First you need to slice the eggplant – it doesn’t matter which way you slice it, either lengthways or in rounds – but make sure you don’t make it too thick as it takes too long to cook. Salt the eggplant by sprinkling slices with salt on both sides and allow to sit for 10 minutes in a colander. Rinse off the salt and dry with a paper towel.
Heat the barbecue or grill plate and brush the grill bars with vegetable oil on a paper towel. Place the eggplant on the chargrill first and sprinkle with salt. After about a minute or two, turn it 90 degrees to get the criss crossed grill mark on the same side. Then turn the eggplant over, and brush the grilled side with a little oil. Too much oil makes the vegetables smoke and turn black.
After a minute or so, turn the vegetables 90 degrees on the second side to finish the criss-crossed pattern. Leave the eggplant on a cooler part of the grill so that it cooks through without burning, while chargrilling the remaining vegetables. Brush occasionally with oil to keep from drying out.
Zucchini, mushroom, capsicum and asparagus
Slice the zucchini into strips or rounds, and cut the capsicum into four pieces, removing the core and the seeds. Trim any remaining vegetables.
Brush the grill with vegetable oil, and then place the remaining vegetables on the grill. Sprinkle with salt and then brush with a little olive oil using either a pastry brush or olive oil on paper towel. Turn and chargrill on the other side.
When vegetables are cooked, transfer to a baking dish or serving and sprinkle with olive oil, and cover with foil.
Roasted capsicum / red peppers
Now if you are looking to roast your capsicum instead of chargrill it, you need to burn the skin on an open flame, or really blacken it on your grill if that’s your next best option. Once you have got some serious black on the skin, you need to transfer your capsicum into a bowl and cover with plastic film. This will make the capsicum sweat and from then the skin often comes off really easily, leaving you with lovely roasted capsicum for Spanish, Mexican or whatever meal takes your fancy.
Serve with pesto or balsamic vinegar. Great with grilled haloumi or crumbled firm ricotta. Bon appetit.