Thursday, July 26, 2012
A Grill Full of Veggies = A Healthier You: Think Beyond the Meat
This week’s writing got happily derailed by the story about shopping at the farmers’ market with my nephew and other tips for helping kids eat healthfully. I kept with the theme to commemorate creatively delicious dishes from children who won the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge at the White House. My week actually began with a post celebrating the abundance of glorious produce I’ve been relishing in at the farmers’ market, and I return to that sentiment with today’s short post where I take those fabulous veggies and throw them on the grill.
Grilling: One of Summer’s Joys
Most people do not eat enough vegetables for optimal health, and grilled veggies are a wonderful and nutritious side dish that can also be used as the starting point for other recipes. To name just a few, grilled vegetable parmigiana, grilled vegetable terrine, grilled vegetable salad, or a Mediterranean grilled vegetable sandwich. Today I provide the simple how-to and a few photos to inspire you to think about grilling something other than meat as summer gets underway. (Or whatever it is you usually grill.) And if you do grill veggies already, maybe you’ll see something here today you’ve not seen before. They’re incredibly tasty and fun to make, too.
There are fancier ways to grill vegetables, mind you, whether with specific marinades or whatever, but the basic tried-and-true version with just olive oil, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of balsamic at the finish is my go-to for everyday cooking.
How to Grill Vegetables
Prepare. The prep depends a bit on what vegetables you are using, so employ common sense to guide you. The key is that you don’t want things too small, else they’ll fall through the grill, which is rather vexing. Some vegetables will remain in one piece, like asparagus, and others can be sliced or used whole, like portobello mushrooms. Squashes should be sliced vertically such that they can be placed perpendicularly on the grill bed, as with eggplant. If you fancy using regular onions or smaller mushrooms, you might consider putting them on kebab sticks or they will fall through the grill, I guarantee you. After the vegetables are prepared, I like to put them in a bowl, pour on a bit of olive oil, and toss to coat lightly. I’ll then season with sea or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper before putting them on the grill after they sit for a few minutes.
Grill. Like roasting, you can grill over medium-high heat, about 425 degrees or so. You need to watch them, as grilling times depends on the thickness and water content of the vegetable. After 6-8 minutes, turn them over, and admire the lovely grill marks. Give yourself a high five, do a little dance, whatever you like. Remove when done. The veggies should be cooked and somewhat soft, but not mushy. Beware of flames that sometimes come up from the grill; no one likes fire poked in their face. And note that an indoor grill pan works just as well as an outdoor BBQ—and no vegetables are sacrificed to the fiery pit below, which is a bonus. If you’re in need of a grill or outdoor barbecue, I would recommend you to take a look at GrillingZen. They review different grills, including environmentally friendly pellet grills, helping you to find the most suitable grill for you.
Serve. Place decoratively on a platter and drizzle with a bit of additional olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
And, guess what? You can grill fruit, too! Check out this recipe for grilled peaches, a sublime summer treat that you really must try.
Here’s to happy grilling and healthy eating!