There are tricks to ensure that your grilled veggies come about perfectly every single time.
Chef Khotso Mosia from Kuzuko Lodge shares his tips on how to make perfectly grilled veggies.
"We are still in the grip of winter but spring is just around the corner which means that South Africans will be lighting fires and congregating around their braai," he says.
Here are Mosia's tips
Paring, Peeling, Cutting
Before you can even begin grilling you need to ensure that your vegetables have been thoroughly washed or rinsed to remove any chemical or biological contaminants.
It’s better to leave your vegetables with the peel on as it protects them from the harsh heat of a charcoal fire, however, you will want to trim away any unwanted or discoloured pieces of your vegetables as they will affect the presentation and flavour of your vegetables.
It would also be prudent to cut large vegetables into smaller pieces as it will affect the cooking time and the absorption of your marinades and the charcoal flavour.
Vegetables with high cellulose content such as green beans, sweet corn or carrots, will need to be blanched till "al dente" before seasoning and then grilling.
My trick is to blanch them in vegetable stock to impart more flavour by blanching in a pot of boiling water with a bit of salt, pepper and garlic will do.
One could also add a teaspoon of Cream of Tartare to your water to bring out the colour in your vegetables, however, take care not to blanch them too long as it strips the vegetables of important nutrients.
Seasoning, Coatings, Marinades
Marinate your vegetables for at least an hour before grilling. A simple mixture of lemon juice, your favourite herbs, olive oil, salt, pepper and either soy sauce or balsamic vinegar will do.
You could make them spicier by adding dried chill flakes to your marinade but be careful not to add too much oil to your marinade or your vegetables may over char or burn.
So, whatever you're coating or marinade is, always lightly oil your vegetables.
When grilling vegetables you want to ensure that your coals or grill are hot enough to ensure your vegetables cook rapidly and that you attain an attractive char or grill pattern.
Your vegetables should however not directly come into contact with a flame or they will burn, however intense infrared heat, from hot coals, is what you want to ensure your vegetables cook through while retaining the integrity of their original shape or form.
Different vegetables cook for different periods of time depending on their water or cellulose content and their size. Ensure you grill vegetables of similar size and consistency at the same time.
Do not overcook them as they may become dried out, chewy or inedible (depending on what you are grilling). It is also important to remember that marinating your vegetables in an "acid" such as lemon juice or vinegar will shorten cooking times as they "cook" the vegetables on a cellular level by breaking down cellulose and the cell walls.
Cooking your vegetables in foil or parchment parcels will steam your vegetables on the grill and you will not obtain the coveted grill char that you desire but is advisable when grilling starchy vegetables such as potatoes, to ensure that they completely cook through and not only on the outside.
One could then remove your vegetables from the parcels when cooked and grill directly on the fire to obtain an attractive char.