Growing up in suburban Cincinnati, I never pictured my adult life not involving a house with a yard.
It’s all I knew.
We vacationed in big cities like New York, but I don’t think I fully comprehended that families actually lived in Manhattan.
Fast forward a couple decades or so, and I’m one of those city dwellers with my husband and son in a multi-unit building in Chicago.
We may not have grass, but we are fortunate enough to have outdoor space in the form of a deck that gets plenty of sunshine. No lawn maintenance required.
The most important thing on that deck isn’t the furniture or the container garden. It’s the grill.
I am out there rain or shine, even grilling with an umbrella and coat if necessary.
Many of my summer recipes involve grilling. The other day my mom asked me what to do since she doesn’t have an outdoor grill.
I know she’s not the only one, so I thought it would be good to do a post explaining how to grill vegetables without a grill.
Since they go right on top of the stove, grill pans are a great alternative to an actual grill for vegetables and fruit. I’m not a fan of indoor grilling for meat or poultry. But quick cooking fish like shrimp is definitely grill pan worthy.
Types of Grill Pans
Grill pans are not a huge investment. They range in price from about $30 to over $100 depending on the size and brand. Many pans are heavy gauge anodized aluminum. Others are cast iron, which are great at retaining heat.
I have a large grill pan that covers two burners and a small grill pan that goes over a single burner. My preference is the smaller one because the temperature stays more even across the pan.
I would rather spend longer cooking my vegetables in batches instead of having more space on a larger grill pan. Plus it’s easier to store.
The Spice Mix
There are those grilling purists who say that nothing compares to a charcoal grill, but you can use spices to add flavor.
I mix together cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Skip liquid smoke or other imitation flavorings.
How To Grill Vegetables Without A Grill
Preheating is key with a grill pan. You want it to be hot when those veggies make contact.
This is where you have to use your judgment. Cast iron pans take a little longer to heat up than anodized aluminum. I start by preheating over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
I find if I crank up the stove all the way on high, it’s too much and things have a tendency to burn.
To know if the pan is hot enough, just flick a little water on it. The water should sizzle and steam on contact.
Another great way to check your pan is with a single sacrificial vegetable. I know that sounds dramatic.
Just like the first pancake on the griddle that never comes out as good as the rest, start by grilling a single zucchini strip or pepper. Then you can make sure you have the proper temperature to get those all-important grill marks.
You may need to adjust the heat higher. That’s another reason why I like to preheat at medium heat. It’s easier to gradually increase the temperature instead of going the other way.
I’ve included cooking times as a guide in the recipe, but keep an eye on things.
Eating Grilled Vegetables
These are a few of my favorite ways to eat grilled vegetables. I love them in salads and paired with grains:Print
How To Grill Vegetables Without A Grill
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 4-12 minutes
- Total Time: 14-22 minutes
- Yield: Varies
For spice mix
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Medium to large tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch-thick
Bell peppers, cut into 3-inch wide strips
Preheat a grill pan on the stove over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper
Toss the vegetables in olive oil and the spice mix.
To know if the grill pan is hot enough, flick a little water on it. The water should sizzle and steam on contact.
Start by grilling a zucchini or squash slice or a pepper to test the temperature of the pan.
Adjust the heat of the burner as necessary.
Continue grilling the vegetables, making sure not to crowd the pan.
Suggested grilling times:
Corn: Grill the corn turning as you see grill marks on the cob, about 10-12 minutes.
Zucchini and yellow squash: Grill the zucchini and squash about 3-4 minutes per side until grill marks appear.
Bell peppers and tomatoes: Grill the peppers and tomatoes about 2-3 minutes per side until grill marks appear.
Overall cooking time depends on type and quantity and vegetables.