By Marie Rama, Bryan Miller

Charcoal imparts a pleasing texture and a smoky essence to vegetables. Moreover, preparation of vegetables for grilling is easy and quick. Here are some examples:

  • Corn: Pull back the husks to remove the silk, but leave the husks attached to the base of the ear. Wrap the husks back around the corn and tie at the top with string or a strip of husk. Grill 20 minutes or until tender, turning frequently. Serve with melted butter flavored with herbs and fresh lemon juice.

  • Eggplant and zucchini: Cut them lengthwise into 1-inch-thick slices. Brush with oil, season to taste, and grill, turning occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown and tender. For additional flavor, marinate in a 3-to-1 oil-vinegar mixture with salt and black pepper and maybe Dijon-style mustard for about 15 minutes before grilling.

  • Potatoes, carrots, onions, and turnips: Peel and slice into uniform pieces and precook in boiling water until almost tender. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and drain well. Wrap in aluminum foil with seasonings such as olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and salt and black pepper to taste. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. (You can also thread them onto skewers before grilling.)

  • Tomatoes: Slice firm, ripe tomatoes into 1-inch-thick pieces. Brush with olive oil; sprinkle with dried basil or parsley and salt and black pepper. Grill until heated through, about 5 minutes total, turning once.

Porous vegetables, such as mushrooms and sliced eggplant, need not be marinated before grilling. You simply brush them with a flavorful liquid, as in the recipe for Garlic-Grilled Portobello Mushrooms.

If you’re going to grill mushrooms, you need to know how to clean, trim, and slice them. Rinse or brush raw mushrooms with a damp paper towel or a vegetable brush. If you do rinse them, drain them well in a colander or dab off any excess moisture before sautéeing. Then, just cut off the stem and slice the cap into pieces.

Garlic-Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Preparation time: About 10 minutes

Cook time: About 6 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Oil for the grill rack

1 pound portobello mushrooms

1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

Salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (optional)

  1. Oil the grill grid and prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill.

  2. Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Brush the mushroom caps with the flavored oil and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

  4. Place the mushroom caps on the grill, top-side down, for about 3 minutes. (Don’t let them burn.)

    Turn the mushroom caps over and grill for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the caps with a knife and the mushrooms are nicely browned.

  5. Remove the mushrooms to a platter, garnish with the parsley (if desired), and serve.

Per serving: Calories 213 (From Fat 171); Fat 19g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 152mg; Carbohydrate 6g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 2g.