(April 16, 2021) The expression, “Less is more,” is not always appropriate.
Spring is in the air and it is time to get out the grills. A little elbow grease will get rid of those cobwebs and have them looking brand new.
Before you know it, the backyard will be filled with that distinct, smokey aroma.
Partiality should not be on one’s menu. Considerable contemplation is devoted to the choice of protein, but let’s not forget about the bountiful blessings from our nutritious gardens.
A colorful plate of grilled vegetables is a feast for one’s eyes and can transform ordinary dishes into superlative dishes.
But before we discuss the many options, let us quickly review the art of grilling mouthwatering veggies.
The grill must be hot. You want a quick sear that develops that wonderful char and at the same time maintains a firm flesh.
The type of cut is also important. Slice your long tubular vegetables such as zucchini, squash and eggplant on an angle. This produces a more attractive cut, which is pleasing to the eye.
Bell peppers and mushrooms contain a tremendous amount of natural liquids. Place them in a stainless-steel mesh that is encased in a bowl. Then, top it with a saucer and place something heavy on it.
This process will remove the excess juice to drain, then simply toss with extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt.
The warm weather is the perfect season to show off your entertaining skills. Creativity is imperative for a memorable experience.
If one is hosting a brunch, consider serving room temperature grilled vegetables with egg dishes. The colorful vegetables are light and are a gorgeous pairing with delicate egg dishes.
While we are on the subject of breakfast, grilled vegetables are a decadent accompaniment with grits. Can you picture a bowl of cheesy, creamy Parmigiana Reggiano grits topped with an array of grilled veggies?
What are gatherings without salsa? Grilled vegetable salsa is delicious and an interesting twist on traditional salsa.
Combine 2 cups of your favorite chunky salsa, two cups of grilled vegetables, fresh cilantro, and a few squeezes of lime.
Instead of a meat lover’s pizza, pile on grilled vegetables. The sweetness and crunchiness are a nice contrast to the savory, gooey cheese. This is also a great dish for vegetarians.
Rule of thumb when entertaining, always plan to serve one vegetarian dish. Even meat lovers appreciate a change.
Pickled vegetables are another innovative way to enhance one’s menu. Chop them into smaller pieces and serve over grilled sausages, hot dogs and hamburgers. The pickling is a wonderful contrast with the saltiness of the meats.
Pickled vegetables presented in a canning jar are a lovely gift during the warm months of spring and summer. A rustic bow is the final touch to an innovative offering.
Simply grill the vegetables and strain them for excess liquids. Heat equal amounts of water, sugar and rice vinegar.
Pickling spice, peppercorns, mustard seeds, dried red pepper flakes and whole cloves of garlic are added for extra flavor. This process is so easy and does not take much time.
In closing, the next time one thinks about grilling, consider serving pickled grilled vegetables. The element of surprise is a way to keep guests coming back for more. Enjoy!
2 cups water
2 cups rice vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons pickling spice
24 assorted peppercorns (black, pink and green)
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
few pinches dried red pepper seeds
9 cloves peeled garlic
1. Combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt, pickling spice, peppercorns, mustard seeds, red pepper seeds and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
2. Pack 4 canning jars with grilled vegetables evenly. Pour hot pickling liquid into jars, leaving 1//4-inch headspace. Screw on lids and allow to come to room temperature. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.
6 bell peppers, red, orange and yellow
1 large zucchini
1 large yellow squash
1 red onion
12 baby portobello mushrooms
1. Preheat charcoal or gas grill for high heat.
2. Grill vegetables so you get a nice sear, and at the same time try to keep the flesh of the vegetable firm.
3. Remove the ends of the zucchini and squash, and cut into ½-inch strips at an angle. Place in a medium stainless steel mesh strainer that is incased in a larger bowl.
4. Cut the onion in quarters, then place the onions and mushrooms in the mesh strainer.
5. Remove stems and seeds from the peppers. Cut into 2-inch pieces and place in the mesh strainer.
6. Place a saucer on top of the vegetables and something that has substantial weight on top of the saucer. Allow vegetable to drain for at least one hour. This process will extract any excess liquids. You may have to empty the liquid once or twice.
Makes approximately 2-to-3-quart canning jars
Secret Ingredient – Cooking. “A passion for cooking starts with respect for the ingredients.”