Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Grilled Veggie Weekend

I'm working on a multi-part post to answer FAQs.  If you have questions you'd like addressed, please send those to me and I'll do my best to get them in the post. Thanks!

I apologize for the long break between posts.  I had a great weekend eating and drinking with friends and it's taken this long to get my head cleared enough to write again! : )

Friday night was Date Night with my sweet, funny and incredibly sexy hubby.  A friend took both my kids for the evening and spoiled them senseless so we could have a nice dinner out (and a little fun in...).  So for dinner, my wonderfully thoughtful husband took me to a (wait for it........) STEAK HOUSE.  Yes, one of those places with ginormous hunks of meat that you can grill yourself or order it grilled to your liking and they'll serve it to you swimming in butter.  Your choice. 

We pulled into the parking lot and my husband says, "Gee, I didn't even think to ask.  Can you find something to eat here?"  I figured worst case scenario was I ended up drinking my supper at the bar, and that's all good for a Friday night date night.  And he's been so supportive that he deserved fried food and meat.

Buzz ordered the all-you-can-eat fish fry special and I ordered the pasta with grilled veggies (no cheese).  We got fried green beans for an appetizer and we both got the salad bar.  I ended up eating (and drinking) way more than I needed and it was really a great supper.  (I apologize for the photo quality on all these pics--I was using my phone.)  I didn't ask what the batter was on the fried green beans.  Chances are it was an egg batter, but I didn't really care.  They are SOOOOO good.

Then on Saturday night, we ended up at an intense Qwirkle tourney at my brother and sister-in-law's house.  (Just in case you're wondering, I totally kicked ass and remain the ultimate Qwirkle Qween).  We had fajitas that night (and many margaritas).  They grilled chicken breast for the carnies, and then grilled some beautiful portabella mushroom caps for me.  Of course, most everyone helped me eat the 'shrooms because they are awesome on the grill. 

My sister-in-law made a huge pan of sauteed veggies to go with the 'shrooms--red and green peppers and onions slow cooked over low heat until they were sweet, sweet, sweet. It's so worth the time to cook them slow like that.  I topped my fajita with black beans, lettuce, tomato, and guacamole (or "mukee molee" as my Gracie says).  The fajitas were served with chips and salsa and a huge platter of fruit.  Again, I ate (and drank) way more than necessary.

Today's recipe is Grilled Veggies. But I don't really have a true technique or recipe to go along with this.  So what I'll give you is a list of my favorite veggies to grill.  If you want more exact instructions, I recommend the All Recipes link below to help you.


(I took a picture of the fruit, but didn't get one of the grilled mushrooms.  Sorry.  I'll click it next time!)

Grilled veggies are good just by themselves, or pair them up with a salad, rice, barley, couscous, your favorite pasta, or pile on good bread or a pita for a sandwich.  They are good hot or cold.  They are great in soups and stews.  They are totally awesome in sauces or lasagna.  For those of you that aren't totally vegan, this is where I would recommend topping with a good cheese.  My families favorite is herbed goat cheese on top of grilled veggies.  (Melt a little goat cheese in a little milk for a pourable sauce to go along side a big platter of veggies.)  Grilled veggies are so colorful and flavorful that they work perfectly for entertaining guests. Mix and match to find a good combination that works for you.  Play with your food!

No matter the veggie, my technique is to rub with a good olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  You can add your favorite herbs if you like, or just a little garlic and onion powder.  But I really like the natural sweetness of grilled veggies.  This recipe goes along with the idea that God makes good food.  Try not to over-think or over-season something that already tastes so good. Of course, you should buy fresh (organic if possible) and in-season veggies for this kind of recipe.  Cook most over medium to medium-high heat.

Eggplant, Zucchini, Yellow Squash: cut cross-wise into circles or length-wise for larger pieces. Grill 3-4 minutes per side.

Onions: take off all outer (dry) layers and cut cross-wise into 1/2" slices.  Grill on low about 10-20 minutes per side to bring out the natural sweetness.

Sweet Peppers (bell peppers that are green, yellow, red or orange): Grill whole for about 20 minutes, turning to evenly brown.  Or cut into quarters for larger strips and grill about 5 minutes per side.

Asparagus: Grill about 10 minutes, turning frequently to brown.

Winter squash (pumpkin, acorn, butternut, buttercup, etc.):  cut in half and scoop out seeds.  Leave the peel on so it holds together on the grill.  Cut into thick slices.  I usually parboil (cook in boiling water for 1-2 minutes) quickly before grilling so they get a softer texture.  Grill about 10 minutes per side or until desired texture is reached. 

Potatoes:  Slice into rounds or cut into quarters.  Parboil about 3-5 minutes before grilling.  Cook just until fork inserts into middle of potato.  Time varies depending on type of tator and how soft you parboiled.  Just keep an eye on them.

Mushrooms: smaller ones, leave whole and grill about 5-6 minutes per side.  For larger mushrooms (like portabella caps) grill on higher heat for about 8-10 minutes per side.

Tomatoes: use a grill pan if smaller tomatoes are used.  Just char these over high heat to make pretty marks on the outside, but don't cook too long or they turn into mush.  

I will address grilled corn closer to sweet corn season.

Most any veggies can be grilled.  I'm happy to talk you through it in more detail if needed.  Just call!

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