Brine, Smoke, Cure: Why You Should Be Cooking Your Veg Like Meat

Brine, Smoke, Cure: Why You Should Be Cooking Your Veg Like Meat photo

Want to know the secret to complex-tasting, perfectly cooked vegetables on the grill? Use the same techniques you would for say, a steak. Sad pepper-and-onions kebabs—your days are over! Here are five meat-friendly techniques to apply to all of your favorite veg.


1. Brine

Brining opens up a new arena of grilling. It’s a game changer for dense produce like carrots, beets, and radishes that typically take so long to soften on the grill that they burn before they get tender. A brine of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and aromatics infuses veg with character while jump-starting the cooking process. The result? They come off the grill just al dente.

Get the recipe: Grilled Brined Vegetables

Try it with:
Green Chile Charmoula
Spiced Seed Sprinkle
Grilled Halloumi with Watercress


2. Smoke

Vegetables absorb smoke much quicker than meat. Gentle, indirect heat and a few handfuls of wood chips are all you need to give firm veg like carrots, celery root, and cabbage burnished skin and fragrant, yielding flesh. Potatoes take especially well to this technique, readily drawing in smoke as they soften.

Get the recipe: Smoked Potatoes

Try it with:
Cipoline Onions with Caraway Butter Sauce
Vinegar Cucumber Salad


3. Cure
A salt cure does more than just season. It also has a magical power to transform texture in the process. Salting wedges of savoy cabbage ahead of time lets the seasoning penetrate to the core while also tenderizing the leaves. That way, when the cabbage hits the grill, it’ll reach that firm-tender place on the inside before it threatens to totally blacken on the outside.

Get the recipe: Savoy Cabbage Wedges with Buttermilk Dressing


4. Dry Rub
A spice rub amps up flavor. Ours combines coriander, paprika, and mustard powder. A drizzle of oil allows the rub to cling to the mushrooms, bringing spice to every bite. The finished products are so meaty and robust, we couldn’t resist taking a cue from steakhouses and pairing them with a (lighter take on) béarnaise sauce.

Get the recipe: Mushrooms with Béarnaise Yogurt


5. Marinate
A powerful marinade pays delicious dividends. You put in a few minutes of prep on the front end—then time does all the work for you. Marinades are especially transformative for eggplant, which soaks them up like a sponge, and leafy greens, which easily absorb infused oil. Two glasses of rosé from now, you’ll thank yourself.

Get the recipes: Leafy Greens with Spicy Garlic Oil
Red Curry Marinated Japanese Eggplant
Sichuan Peppercorn Black Bean Marinated Green Beans

Grill your darlings (a.k.a. your salads):

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