How to Pre-Cook Vegetables for Perfect Grilled and Barbecued Meals

As for most meals, timing is critical, so that all the elements of a meal are ready-serve at the same time. The time taken to grill meat on a barbecue is generally much less than that for cooking the vegetables. Also, it is very hard to ensure that the outside and inside of vegetables are perfectly cooked at the same time. When there are mixed vegetables involved producing a successful tasty meal can be a nightmare involving complex sequential timing issues for quick and slow cook vegetables.

The easy way to solve these problems is to pre-cook the vegetables beforehand and-finish them on the barbecue. One obvious example is potatoes. Par-cooked potatoes can be finished on the grill or barbecue is a similar time to that required-cook the meat. If you pre-cook other vegetables as well, all the elements of the meal can be finished cooking at the same time. All the food items will be perfectly cooked, and ready to serve when the meat is cooked. All the barbecued items should be served immediately they are cooked, not set aside as they lose their crispness and become soft and soggy.

Discover how to pre-cook vegetables so that they will be perfectly cooked when finished on your grill or barbecue
Discover how to pre-cook vegetables so that they will be perfectly cooked when finished on your grill or barbecue | Source
Fresh vegetables are a great addition to a barbecue. Discover how to do it properly
Fresh vegetables are a great addition to a barbecue. Discover how to do it properly | Source
With a little care and thought your vegetables will be ready to eat when your meat is cooked.
With a little care and thought your vegetables will be ready to eat when your meat is cooked. | Source
A platter of grilled or barbecued vegetables is a wonderful addition to grilled or roasted beef or other meat.
A platter of grilled or barbecued vegetables is a wonderful addition to grilled or roasted beef or other meat. | Source
Learn how to ensure that grilled vegetables are cooked in the center without burning the outside
Learn how to ensure that grilled vegetables are cooked in the center without burning the outside | Source
Grilled and barbecued vegetables make a wonderful meal when served with fresh bread and a variety of dips.
Grilled and barbecued vegetables make a wonderful meal when served with fresh bread and a variety of dips. | Source

Tips for Pre-cooking Vegetables for the Grill or Barbecue

Slice the vegetables evenly for various types in terms of how long the vegetables will take-cook. Use shapes that will expose more surfaces on the grill. Organise the vegetables in various groups in terms of how long they will take-pre-cook so that you can cook some of them together. Pair like vegetables with like in terms of their size and how long it will take to cook them. For example, potatoes, carrots and pumpkin pieces take a relatively long time, greens and zucchini do not require pre-cooking.

The table shown below, provides a guide for the pre-cooking times for most vegetables. They have been listed with the longest times at the top and shortest time at the bottom. This means that you can see which vegetables to group together for pre-cooking.

Pre-cook Times (Boiling) for Various Vegetables Prior to Grilling and Barbecuing

Vegetable
Pre-Cook Times (minutes)
Kohlrabi
30
Beets
27
Onions, whole
17
Potatoes, whole
17
Squash, whole
17
Artichoke, whole
12
Carrots, whole
11
Potatoes, cut
11
Turnips, whole
11
Beans, green
10
Beans, lima
10
Onions, pearl
10
Artichoke, hearts
8
Cabbage, wedges
8
Cauliflower, whole
8
Eggplant, whole
8
Peas
7
Asparagus
5
Broccoli, spears
5
Brussels sprouts
5
Cabbage, shredded
5
Carrots, sliced
5
Cauliflower, florets
5
Eggplant, diced
5
Parsnips
5
Squash, sliced
5
Squash, halves
5
Zucchini
5
Corn, on cob
4
Greens, kale/beet
4
Turnips, cubed
4
Broccoli, flowerets
3
Mushrooms
3
Peppers, bell
3
Spinach
3
Corn, cut
2

Advantages of Pre-Cooking Vegetables Prior to Grilling or Barbecuing

► Evenly cooked vegetables right to the core - Boiling is the best way-evenly cook potatoes, carrots, turnips and other hard vegetables, so that they are cooked properly inside. So if you get them pre-cooked before they go on the grill, the potatoes only have to finish cooking for a little bit longer on the grill, and don't run the risk of drying them out, or burning them on the outside by staying on the grill for too long. Cooking both standard and sweet potatoes can take a long time-cook on the grill and it is very hard to cook inside without burning the outside. Par-boiling the vegetables will cut down on the cooking time on the barbecue and ensure the vegetables are cooked properly.

► If you par-boil the potatoes and other vegetables in salted water, or perhaps with other seasoning, such as herbs and spices, you can start the seasoning process early, in ways that you cannot do, by cooking on the barbecue or grill. In a sense it is like marinading the vegetables.

Par-Boiling potatoes and other vegetables for grilling and barbecuing - Par-boiling is essentially a short period of boiling-partially cook the vegetables. Place potatoes and other vegetables, cut into pieces or whole, into a saucepan of cold water, seasoned with lots of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat-a simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost cooked through. Check by inserting a knife into the center. But, you only want-partially cook the potatoes, not all the way through. Place the hot vegetables into a colander and drain so that the outside surfaces dry out. This helps to ensure they are crisp when grilled or barbecued. Toss the potatoes and other vegetables in some olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, salt, herbs or spices and set aside until you are ready the finish them on a grill or barbecue.

Tips for Grilling Vegetables After Pre-Cooking

Use the following tips for grilling and barbecuing various vegetables, wrapped in foil, on a barbecue grate or on a hot plate.

Asparagus - Break off and discard tough bases of the asparagus stems. Precook for 3-4 minutes, then tie asparagus in bundles with strips of cooked green onion tops. Pre-cooking Time: 3-4 minutes; Grilling Time: 3-5 minutes

Fresh baby carrots - Remove the carrot tops. Then, wash, drain and peel the carrots. Pre-cooking Time: 3-5 minutes; Grilling Time: 3-5 minutes

Eggplant - Slice off the off tops. Slice the eggplant diagonally into 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick slices. No pre-cooking required; Grilling Time: 8 minutes

Fennel - Cut off the feathery leaves and stems. Pre-cooking time for whole bulbs: 10 minutes. Then, cut the bulbs into wedges. Grilling Time: 8 minutes

Sweet peppers - Cut off the stems, remove the seeds and membranes and then quarter the peppers. Cut the peppers into 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide strips. Do not precook. Grilling Time: 8-10 minutes

Leeks - Slice off the green tops; remove the bulb roots and remove the outer layers of white skin, and halve lengthwise. Pre-cooking Time: 10 minutes; Grilling Time: 5 minutes

New potatoes - Peel and cut the potatoes in half. Pre-cooking Time: 10 minutes or until almost tender, inside Grilling Time: 10-12 minutes

Zucchini - Wash the Zucchini and slice the ends off. Then, slice the zucchini into quarters lengthwise to make long strips. Do not precook; Grilling Time: about 5-6 minutes

Grilled Vegetables Using the Staggered Cooking Time Method

Ingredients

  • 12 green onions
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 12 cremini mushrooms or similar
  • 2 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 red bell peppers, cut in half, with the seeds removed.
  • 1 bunch (1-pound; 500 g) asparagus, with bottom section trimmed
  • 3 zucchini (about 12 oz; 350 g), sliced lengthwise and cut into medium size cubes
  • 3 yellow squash (about 1 pound; 500 g), sliced lengthwise and cut into medium size cubes
  • 3 Japanese eggplant (about 12 oz; 350 g), sliced lengthwise and cut into medium size cubes

Method

Place a grill pan over moderate to high heat or heat your barbecue to moderate-high. Brush the vegetables with 1/4 cup of the oil, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the vegetables in groups according to how long they will take to cook. If you stagger the times you add the vegetables they will call be ready to serve at the same time. Grill the vegetables until lightly charred all over. Allow 8-10 minutes to cook the bell peppers; 6-7 minutes for the zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Serve immediately with the dressing described below.

Whisk 2 tablespoons of oil and balsamic vinegar with the parsley, basil, garlic and rosemary in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the dressing mixture over the vegetables and serve hot.

Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients

For the Balsamic Glaze

  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar, preferably aged
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Vegetables

  • Oil, for brushing grill
  • 3 carrots, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • 4 small squash, sliced lengthwise
  • 3 large red onion, cut into rounds
  • 2 celery roots, trimmed and cut into thin slices

Method

Preheat your grill or barbecue to moderate high. Make the dressing by adding vinegar, sugar, and honey to a small pan over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until half the liquid evaporates. Transfer to a jug and keep. Use a large resealable bag to marinade the vegetables. Add the olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic and balsamic vinegar, and stir to combine. Next, add the celery root, carrots and onions. Seal the bag and allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Then, add the squash and zucchini and marinate for an extra 10 minutes. Brush pre-heated grill or barbecue with oil. Add the carrots, onions and celery root and cook for 2-4 minutes, turning once and brushing with balsamic glaze. Add the squash and zucchini, brushing with the balsamic glaze and cook the vegetables for an additional 2 minutes per side. Drizzle the cooked vegetables with the remaining Balsamic glaze and serve hot on a warm platter.

© 2015 Dr. John Anderson

More by this Author


Comments 3 comments

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 15 months ago

John, you have made my little Carb Diva heart go pitter-pat. My mantra is 'plan, plan, plan'. And this hub certainly points to that. Thank you for doing the research (and sharing your knowledge), on how to insure that the meats and veggies all end up at the finish line at the same time. Voted up dear friend!


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 15 months ago from Oklahoma

Looks delicious. Great tips!


Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 15 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

I love roasted and grilled vegetables; it brings out the sweetness in them. The pictures are great. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings to you.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working