Here's The Biggest Mistake You'll Make When Grilling Carrots

Carrots on the grill
Carrots on the grill - Zi3000/Getty Images

There are a lot of vegetables that come to mind for grilling season: Peppers, squash, eggplant, and asparagus easily transition from preparations like roasting or sautéing to the direct fire of a barbecue. Carrots, meanwhile, are a bit less popular. There's no shortage of recipes starring this root veggie, but it doesn't often wind up on the grill, which is a real shame. Perhaps carrots are overlooked because barbecuing them can take forever, if you make one major mistake: Neglecting to pre-cook them.

Given that they're packed with natural sugars, carrots caramelize beautifully when introduced to the high heat of a grill. The mildly bitter char plays off the inherent sweetness of the veggie, and the textural contrast of the tender center and crisp outside is deliciously satisfying. But if you just throw raw carrots over roaring flames, they'll instead wind up with a totally burnt outside and an underdone, crunchy middle. Or, they might force you to stand by the grill for what seems like ages while they slowly cook over indirect heat.

Fortunately, pre-cooking your carrots before tossing them on the grill solves these issues. They're more likely to achieve an even level of doneness, without you having to wait forever. This simple trick products great results that show you why carrots always deserve a spot on your grill grates.

Read more: 11 Tips For Keeping Your Grill Shiny And Clean

How To Precook Carrots Before Grilling Them

Carrots with grill marks
Carrots with grill marks - Anna Kucher/Getty Images

A simple way to make perfectly grilled carrots begins in an unexpected place: your microwave. Why not steam or boil the veggies instead? These methods actually water-log the carrots, and even over the hot grill, it will be a struggle to get them to crisp up. Instead, nuking them with a little oil, salt and pepper allows them to soften without absorbing excess moisture. They'll be able to take on that caramelized char that everyone loves about grilled food.

The size of your carrots matters, too. Thicker veggies will be trickier to cook evenly, and while smaller ones cut down on grill time, they scorch more quickly — not to mention they're more likely to fall through the grates. Your best bet is to go for carrots that are a little longer, but not too thick. You can also slice your carrots, which will lead to a faster cooking time. Cut them on a bias to create longer, oblong slices, not circular coins that easily fall into the fire. (If you've ever wondered what the point of a grilling basket is, and if it's worth getting one, this is a good use.)

An alternate method of combo-cooking is to go in reverse: Char the carrots on the grill first, then finish them in the oven. Don't microwave them or they'll lose their crispness. As a final tip, pay close attention to your carrots on the grill, flipping them over frequently to avoid total incineration.

Serving Your Grilled Carrots

Grilled glazed carrots
Grilled glazed carrots - annokhotska/Shutterstock

When it's time to add finishing touches before delivering your carrots to the table, you can keep the seasoning simple, as the veggies will already be packed with complex flavors and textures. A sprinkle of sea salt is really all you need to serve them as a stunning side dish, but you can dress them up more if you have time to spare.

Glazes like citrus and honey or soy sauce and brown sugar add a sticky-sweet coating to the carrots; try brushing them on just a minute before taking the veggies off the heat. Carrots are also a classic partner for a little something spicy, so try a dash of cayenne or chili powder can on top. Other spices like cinnamon, coriander, and cardamom work well, too, and the natural smokiness of cumin is a perfect complement to the smoky grilled flavors.

As for garnishes, a creamy element like yogurt or labneh, along with something crunchy like candied pecans or earthy pistachios, gives your dish layers of textural contrast. These toppings can even turn the carrots into an entree, thanks to the protein in the dairy and nuts (crumbled bacon wouldn't hurt either, for meat-eaters). Finish off your carrots with fresh herbs like cilantro, thyme, or basil for both dimension of flavor and a pop of color. Thanks to the vital pre-cooking step, you'll have tender yet crisp orange wonders that are a little more exciting than the usual grilled corn or peppers.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.