Follow these tips for grilled salad perfection.
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
A spotless grate goes a long way toward preventing your salad ingredients from sticking. It also helps avoid imparting an unappetizing burnt flavour. The best time to clean the grate, using a long-handled brush, is when it’s piping hot: immediately after you’ve removed your food from the grill or after several minutes of preheating.
To tell when you’ve heated a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high, you should be able to hold your hand about 1 in (2.5 cm) above the cooking grate for only 3 to 4 seconds before needing to pull it away from the intensity of the heat.
Greasing your grill grate is another method for side-stepping any sticking. To do so, soak a wad of paper towel in oil, hold it with tongs, and rub it over the hot rack.
A high-sided grill basket is ideal for tossing around everything from cherry tomatoes and bell pepper slices to chunks of eggplant without the worry that they’ll slip through the grates to a fiery death.
Stuffing your grill grate with too many veggies and meats makes it less likely everything will cook evenly and brown properly. It’s also more difficult to flip items and move them if flare-ups occur. So, leave at least 1 in (2.5 cm) of space between items on the grate and grill in batches if necessary.
Don’t be too curious. Opening the lid several times during grilling reduces the temperature so the cooking time increases.
When grilling vegetables, you want to heat them to the point where they become tender and darkened in a few spots. You want to avoid too much charring, which imparts a harsh flavour and can reduce their nutritional virtues. So, don’t wander too far from the grill when preparing them.
This article was originally published in the June 2020 issue of alive Canada, under the title "Sizzling Salads."