12 Vegetables That You Should Really Burn

published Jul 23, 2016
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Shishito peppers on a plate

Toss any vegetable on a grill and it instantly improves. That’s because while it cooks, it gets lightly charred by the high heat of the grill. But what about bumping up the char so that the vegetable is practically burnt? Could that be any good? In fact, for these 12 vegetables, it’s awesome.

1. Eggplant

Baba ghanoush is proof that charred eggplant is glorious. The creamy, Middle Eastern eggplant dip is made by roasting a whole eggplant until the skin is completely blackened, the vegetable has almost collapsed, and the flesh takes on an incredible, smoky flavor. The soft insides are scooped out and mashed into a luscious fragrant dip.

Get the Recipe: Baba Ghanoush

2. Bell Peppers

Roasted bell peppers add sweet, charred flavor to just about anything they touch, from pizza and sandwiches to pasta and soup. Grill or broil them until their skin completely blackens and then remove the skin to reveal the pepper’s sweet, smoky goodness.

3. Scallions

A nice char on scallions turns them into way more than just a garnish; it mellows their oniony bite and makes them a bit more texturally interesting. Enjoy them all on their own — they’re a vegetable in their own right, after all — or along grilled steak or fish.

4. Cabbage

Cabbage was destined for much more than just coleslaw and kraut. Grilling or roasting wedges until the edges get blackened and crisp decreases that funky cabbage smell while boosting the vegetable’s sweet flavor and adding a smoky element to the mix.

5. Broccoli

The best thing happens to broccoli when you give it some serious char: The tiny florets blacken and get so nice and crunchy that this often-hated vegetable, becomes an extremely popular one.

6. Kale

Forget raw kale salads and jump on the grilled kale salad bandwagon instead. Charring the leaves before tossing them with dressing not only adds texture to the mix, but also gives the salad a smoky flavor, making it a whole lot more satisfying.

7. Brussels Sprouts

As Brussels sprouts are in the cabbage family, it makes sense that they also take exceptionally well to charring. Getting the outside black and extra caramelized brings out the vegetable’s sweetness and turns it into the hit of the dinner table.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

8. Zucchini

If you’re convinced that all zucchini can ever be is watery and tasteless, you need to start charring it. While you can do this with plain ol’ slices, it’s even more delicious to grill or broil the vegetable whole until the skin completely blackens. The flesh will be smoky and complex and can be scooped out and mashed into an incredible dip.

Get the Recipe: Zucchini Baba Ghanoush from Serious Eats

9. Green Beans

Charring green beans always makes me want to pick them up and eat each one with my fingers, as they become so snack-like. The outside gets crispy while the inside remains juicy and sweet.

10. Tomatoes

Summer tomatoes are already pretty perfect, but give them some char and their skin gets smoky while their inside gets even more juicy and sweet. Whole plum tomatoes are ideal for this application, as they have nice, thick skins, but cherry tomatoes are also great — just skewer them if they’re being grilled, or toss them on a rimmed baking sheet if they’re going in the oven.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Tomatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

11. Shishito Peppers

If you’ve ever ordered blistered shishito peppers at a tapas restaurant, you already know their glory. The tiny mild green peppers turn into a delicious snack when blackened on the outside, and are best enjoyed with nothing more than a sprinkling of coarse salt.

12. Broccoli Rabe

Grilling or roasting bitter broccoli rabe until it gets nice and blackened at the tips actually mellows its strong bite. A creamy dip is the ideal companion.