Photo by Belinda Smith-Sullivan
1 zucchini, cut in ½-inch slices
1 yellow squash, cut in ½-inch slices
6 cherry tomatoes
6 mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1½-inch pieces
½ red onion, cut into 1½-inch pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
Fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary), chopped
6-inch wooden skewers
Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes. Preheat grill on high. Thread the vegetables onto the skewers. Season all sides with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with olive oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook over direct heat until vegetables have a nice char, about 3–4 minutes per side. Remove from grill, and sprinkle with cheese and herbs before serving.
Why soak wooden skewers? So they don’t catch on fire. Burned skewers can lead to your meats and vegetables falling through the grate into the bottom of the grill. Soaking also prevents skewers from splintering, which could potentially damage to someone’s mouth while eating from them. Bamboo skewers are inexpensive, hold up well and are easy to handle right off the grill.
- Preheat the grill with the lid closed for 15 minutes on the highest temperature setting. This prepares the grate for cooking and loosens any leftover bits of foods and allows them to be removed easily.
- Oil the food, not the grate. The oil on the food will prevent it from sticking. You won’t waste oil, and you avoid a potentially dangerous flare-up.
- Keep the lid closed as much as possible. This keeps the grate hot enough to sear meats; speeds up the cooking time; traps the smokiness that develops when the fat and juices vaporize in the grill; and prevents fire flare-up by limiting oxygen.
- Caramelization or searing meat improves the taste. To develop this flavor, use the right level of heat and resist the temptation to flip your food. It’s the browning process that creates layers of flavors and aromas. So, as a general rule, turn food only once.
- Tame the flame. Flare-ups happen, which is good for searing the surface of what you are cooking. But too many can burn your food. If the flames are getting out of control, move the food over indirect heat temporarily, until they die down. Then move the food back, and remember to keep the lid closed as much as possible.
Direct heat or indirect heat? Use direct heat—when the fire is directly below the food—for small, tender pieces of food that can be cooked in 20 to 25 minutes or less. Examples are steaks, chops, fish fillets, chicken breasts, burgers and hot dogs. Use indirect heat—when the fire is on either side of the food—for larger, tougher foods that require more than 20 minutes of cooking time. Examples are whole chickens, ribs and briskets. More delicate foods like vegetables and fruits are also best cooked using indirect heat, for a shorter period of time.