In this second part of a two-part series, I am going to offer the definition, benefits and some examples of three dry heat methods for cooking vegetables: grilling, roasting and sautéing. Unlike the moist heat cooking methods from Part 1, these methods do not involve water. There is a time and place for each type of vegetable cooking, but I really like these dry heat ways of cooking because they add more flavor to the vegetables during cooking than steaming or boiling.
Grilling is preparing foods on a grate over hot coals or gas flame (on a grill). This method doesn’t just cook the vegetables, it also adds flavor – sweetness from the vegetables’ natural sugars caramelizing over the high heat and a bit of smokiness from being cooked over an open flame. It is important to avoid adding too much fat or oil to the vegetables before grilling, because excess fat will drip through the grates and cause flare-ups.
A fun way to grill vegetables is to thread them on a skewer. This makes turning them easy and prevents smaller pieces from falling through the grates. Grilled Garden Vegetables are a great side dish for grilled steak or chicken. If you don’t want to use skewers and the grates on your grill are wider than the vegetables you want to grill, try using a grill basket. Grill baskets allow you to get all the flavor without losing pieces of vegetables to the coals below.
Roasting vegetables is achieved by cooking them in an open pan in the oven, generally until the outside is browned. Roasting can be accomplished in two ways: high heat (oven temperature around 450 degrees) or low heat (oven temperatures below 300 degrees). I prefer high heat roasting when I am doing just vegetables because the crispy, caramelized exteriors and tender centers are so delicious. Low heat roasting works well when cooking a larger piece of meat in the oven, like carrots and potatoes with a beef roast. Roasted Vegetables with Tortellini is a great recipe to turn roasted vegetables into an entrée.
Sautéing cooks vegetables quickly in a small amount of oil over relatively high heat on the stove top, often in a sauté pan. Like roasting, sautéing allows some browning and caramelized flavors to develop during cooking. Middle Eastern Garden Stir-Fry is a fun veggie-based sauté recipe to try for dinner. Sautéing vegetables is also a great way to cook them if you plan to incorporate them into a pasta dish or other skillet meal.
Some recipes incorporate more than one type of cooking, for example, Broccoli and Peppers in Browned Butter, which starts by sautéing vegetables and finishes with a modified steaming method to make sure the large pieces of broccoli are tender.
Once you understand the basics of each cooking method, it is easy to mix and match to get the outcome you want for your finished vegetable dish. Enjoy a spring and summer filled with great-tasting cooked vegetables!