Many of the tools that will come in handy for grilling vegetables and other foods most likely already live in your kitchen or beside your grill. Sharp knives, a cutting board, a colander, bowls, rubber and metal spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, tongs, and potholders may all come into play, depending on the specific food you are planning to grill. But a few other items are either essential or optional yet helpful when grilling vegetables and other foods.
- Grill: If you already own a grill, regardless of its style, you’re all set to fire off your first round of tomatoes or onions. The style of grill doesn’t matter; you simply need to know how to use it. We prefer a battered kettle grill because it was free, is easy to use, and holds a decent amount of food. Smaller or larger gas grills work equally well.
- Fuel: If you have a propane grill, you simply need to ensure your tank has enough fuel before you start a grilling session. Kettle grills give you more ways to vary flavor by using charcoal or chips from different types of woods.
- Tongs: Grills and the tools and food on them get hot, and long-handled tongs are often the best way to maneuver what’s on the heat. Because we’re working with charcoal, we also like to keep a pair on hand for manipulating the hot coals so that we can stir and spread them out to ensure even cooking.
- Grill brush: Juicy items, like tomatoes, can release a lot of liquid as they cook, even if you’re doing your best to sear it in. A grill brush helps you clean your grate between and after batches.
- Paper towels: As much as I dislike throw-away products, we’ve found a quarter-folded paper towel or two to be the best way to oil a grill: simply pour a bit of oil onto the towel, lay it on the grate, and use your grill brush or tongs to rub it back and forth a few times, reoiling as often as needed.
- Chimney starter: I dislike lighter fluid and other petroleum starters; even if you don’t singe your eyebrows, it leaves a taste on the food that spoils all your effort. If you have a charcoal grill, a chimney is the way to go. You simply shove some wadded newspaper under the chimney, set it on the lower coal grate, pour in the charcoal, and light the paper. The flames will work their way up from the bottom; in about 15 minutes, when the top ones become gray with ash, you tip the coals over the grate and arrange them for cooking.
- Grill tray or mat: A grilling tray or mat can be handy for small items, like halved tomatillos or whole chilies. Perforated grill trays often have a rim on two to four sides, making them sturdy but bulky to store and specific to your grill’s dimensions. A copper grilling mat rolls up for easy storage and transport and adapts to grills of many sizes and shapes, but its flexibility makes it harder to lift when loaded. Learn more about why I love grill mats here.
- Skewers: Again, small items may be easier to manage if they are contained in some way. In addition to Shish Kebabs, skewers can be ideal for cherry tomatoes or even chilies. We prefer longer metal ones to shorter bamboo ones; they last far longer, hold more, and are simply to use and clean. Just be sure there is a nice handle to grasp when turning and removing the skewer, keeping a potholder handy if that handle is metal.