9 Grill-Ahead Vegetables for Easier Barbecue Prep

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

A side of nicely charred vegetables really ups the ante at a backyard cookout, but when you’re prepping steaks, burgers or dogs for a crowd, grill real estate is at a premium. Plus, timing the doneness of varied veggies can be complicated when you’re balancing a short-order list of rare, medium-rare and well-done meats.

Our solution? Grill that produce ahead of time (either earlier in the day or the day before), to turn out side dishes that promise maximum flavor and minimum time-sucking.

Giada De Laurentiis’ key to getting those great grill marks? Don’t shift the vegetables too frequently once they’ve been placed on the hot grill. Coat the vegetables in the dressing while they’re still warm, then store in a container in the refrigerator overnight. They’ll taste delicious served cold, or can be reheated in a foil pack on the grill.

When Bobby Flay’s grilled zucchini marinates overnight in the Dijon-lemon dressing, it becomes super tender. Wait to add the pine nuts and cheese until just before serving so they retain their crisp texture and fresh flavor.

Grilled Eggplant_3.tif

Grilled Eggplant_3.tif

food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop stylist: Marina Malchin

Eggplant is one of the more difficult vegetables to grill, often turning out unpleasantly tough or thin and hole-y like Swiss cheese. Keep the eggplant slices a little thicker before grilling, then let them rest for a few hours. The olive oil will help to tenderize the vegetable as it marinates post-cooking. Add the herbed peanut butter dressing just before serving.

This entire dish can be served chilled, giving the olive oil-toasted couscous time to absorb the flavors of the vinegar, mustard and garlic-marinated vegetables.

GRILLED_BOK_CHOY_011.tif

GRILLED_BOK_CHOY_011.tif

Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

A medley of sauces gives bok choy a complex Asian profile — a favorite preparation for the flavor-absorbing vegetable. Reserve some of the sauce to re-dress the dish before serving.

GRILLED_PANZANELLA_013.tif

GRILLED_PANZANELLA_013.tif

Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Prepare this entire dish in advance, save for the grilled bread cubes, which you’ll want to be crisp and dry to absorb the salad juices and dressing just as guests are digging into their bowls.

14_OnionBaconHobo_354.tif

14_OnionBaconHobo_354.tif

Food Stylist: Anne Disrude Prop Stylist: Marcus Hay

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

Though grilling onions greatly mellows their flavor, letting the medley sit overnight will sweeten and soften the sharp vegetable further, making it an ideal base for grilled meats.

Guy’s sweet balsamic glaze tenderizes and adds flavor to this medley of vegetables, including less-featured carrots and celery root. Drizzle with the additional glaze before serving.

FNM_TuscanPastaSalad_070.tif

FNM_TuscanPastaSalad_070.tif

Food Stylist: Maggie Ruggeiro Prop Stylist: Marcus Hay

Photo by: Yunhee Kim Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Yunhee Kim Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Bitter radicchio and anise-scented fennel make a surprise appearance at your summer barbecue in this colorful, filling pasta. Grill the veggies and cook the pasta in advance; combine the ingredients within six hours of serving to make sure the beans and cheese maintain their shape and flavor.

Keep Reading