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Something Different
Week of: May 21, 2012
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Grilling Vegetables To Bring Out Their Best

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

One of my favorite restaurants serves the most appealing vegetables around New York City. Buttermilk Channel, in Brooklyn, New York, is a casual neighborhood spot known for farm-to-table cooking. Their grilled vegetable platter shows inspired simplicity in the way each vegetable is prepared to bring out its best. The presentation is a plate of six or more vegetables, every one of them perfectly balancing smoky flavor with its own particular taste, deliciously concentrated from grilling.

This is a method you can do easily at home using a charcoal grill, gas grill or a grill-pan on the stove. Here are the ways to do it with an assortment of the season's favorites. Using fresh-picked vegetables from local farms gives the most flavor.

When using an outdoor grill, be sure the clean grate is brushed with oil and use medium-high heat. Preheat a grill-pan for 5 minutes over high heat. Garnishes like finely chopped herbs, a squirt of lemon juice, drops of balsamic vinegar or some grated Parmesan cheese can be added after grilling, too.

Grilled Vegetables

Asparagus – Plunge spears into boiling water for 1 minute. Blot dry with paper towels. Line up 3-4 spears like soldiers and insert a toothpick through them 1-inch below the tips. Insert another toothpick 1-inch above the bottom. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes, turn and grill 2 minutes.

Broccoli – Select spears with fat stems. Cut off the stems 2 inches below the crown, then stand spears on end and cut them vertically into 3/4-inch slices. Blanch for 1 minute. Blot dry with paper towels. Brush slices lightly with olive oil. Grill for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on each side.

Carrots – Cut off the top and bottom of a fat, medium-large carrot. Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill slices for 3 minutes, turn and grill for 2 more minutes.

Onions (red, yellow or sweet) – Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Insert 2 toothpicks crosswise into slices to hold them together on the grill. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes on each side.

Portobello Mushrooms – Select mushrooms about 3-inches across. Discard the stems and use a small knife to pare away ragged edges. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill the mushrooms gill side up for 2 minutes, turn and grill for 2 minutes, or until no longer raw-looking inside at the thickest point.

Sweet Peppers – Choose peppers that are as square or triangular as possible, with sides that are flat. Standing a pepper on its bottom, hold a large knife and vertically cut off each side as a slab. Brush pepper pieces lightly with olive oil. Grill for 3 minutes, turn, and grill for 2 minutes.

Zucchini Squash – Cut off the top and bottom off a fat, medium-large squash. Cut the squash lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes on each side.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.


Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at www.aicr.org.


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