Grilled Vegetable Salads: Tips and Recipes

Grilling summer veggies outdoors yields delicious salads - without heating up your kitchen indoors! When the thermometer tops out, who wants to cook? You will - once you've tasted a grilled vegetable salad.
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Summer Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables

Summer Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables 

Why are grilled veggies so enticing? The natural sugars in vegetables caramelize in the presence of intense dry heat, forming a crust that seals in moisture. The result is a sweet, smoky flavor that's irresistible.

No matter what kind of grill you use - charcoal, gas or countertop - oil or marinate the vegetables first. This improves browning, seals in flavor and juices and keeps the vegetables from drying out. Most veggies don't absorb much marinade, so you don't need to allow for lengthy marinating time.

Try this basic Lemon Herb Marinade recipe

A vegetable grill rack - a flat nonstick sheet with perforations - is a vegetable griller's best friend. It means you can cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces and cook them all together without having chunks fall into the fire. (A grill basket is another option, but its limited surface area won't allow batches of vegetables to get direct heat and caramelize)

When using charcoal, let the coals burn down until they're covered with white ash, then start grilling; you want intense heat, not active flames. With a gas grill, just preheat it to high. Grilled vegetables cook quickly, so don't leave them unattended. Cooking times in recipes are guidelines only - you can't standardize a grill the way you can an oven - so use your judgment.

The following grilled salads make the most of summer's bounty: