The Genius Tip For Perfect Grilled Zucchini Every Time

Grilled zucchini slices
Grilled zucchini slices - Maria_Usp/Shutterstock

It's perhaps no coincidence that grilling season and zucchini season coincide. Green and yellow summer squashes grow and ripen in force in the summertime, and there's no doubt that one of the best ways to cook them is outdoors over a hot flame. Grilling zucchini is as easy as cutting slices, brushing them with oil, and grilling them for five to 10 minutes, but it's just as easy to end up with mushy squash, too, if you're not careful. Zucchini cooks very quickly, and once it's hot, it doesn't like to wait around on a plate, or else it gets soft. So to get perfectly grilled, tender zucchini every time, cook it last and serve it immediately.

If summer squash is on the menu at your next backyard barbecue, keep in mind that zucchini is mostly made up of water. Once you start heating them up, that water turns to steam, and the vegetable starts to break down, so time is of the essence. Cut your summer squash into slices that are thick enough for grilling, manage the moisture with a little salt, and don't let it sit around.

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

Zucchini Is Mostly Made Up Of Water

zucchini growing on the plant
zucchini growing on the plant - Brookgardener/Shutterstock

The challenge with cooking fresh zucchini is that they're very wet. Each squash is made up of 95% percent water, according to NPR. That's a pretty big difference compared to, say, a steak, which is 75% water (per the USDA). Understanding moisture content is important because food has to be dry for it to sear and turn brown through a process every cook should understand: the Maillard reaction. So, if you want to get good scorch marks on your gourd, you've got to get the grill very hot.

As the squash is heated over the flame, however, the moisture turns to steam, which breaks down the cell walls that give it texture. When the cell walls burst, they release the water trapped inside. While the zucchini pieces are still hot, this isn't a problem because the moisture is released as steam. When it's allowed to sit for too long after it's cooked, however, the water cools and is released as liquid, which is what makes the veggie all mushy. This is why you can perfectly grill a few slices of squash, put them on a plate for a minute to do something else, then come back and find the zucchini slices looking watery and deflated.

Manage The Moisture Of Your Zucchini

A grill piled with veggies
A grill piled with veggies - stockcreations/Shutterstock

Aside from serving your zucchini slices fresh off the grill, there are a few other tips for managing mushiness. First, be sure to use a squash that is on the smaller side. As zucchinis grow larger, they develop an airy, spongy texture. Little zuchs, on the other hand, have denser flesh and a crunchy texture. Once you've selected the perfect zucchini, cut the pieces you intend to grill into at least ¼-inch thick slices. This width will give you enough time to get good grill marks on either side without overcooking your veggie slices (about three or four minutes on each side).

But before you even get to grilling them, sprinkle a bit of coarse salt on your zucchini slices about 10 minutes before it's time to cook. The salt will draw out some of the water in the squash, and just before they go on the grill, you can dab them dry with a paper towel. Although it requires an extra step, salting the zucchini will give it a better texture, and you won't have to worry as much about it getting soggy, even if they're served with a bit of vinaigrette.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal