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July 2001 Issue
That grill is for more than burgers!
by Ronda L. Halpin
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When most people think about grilling, they imagine a thick steak or spicy rubbed chicken. Well, I find myself dreaming about grilled veggies. There's something special about the flavor and texture of a perfectly fresh vegetable that's been tossed in oil and held to the flame until there's a smoky softness to it. In addition to being a healthy choice for grilling, vegetables offer a wide range of uses ranging from quick soups and salads to elegant kabobs and pizzas.

There are only a few rules to keep in mind when grilling vegetables:

  1. Choose the highest quality of vegetables you can afford. Freshest is best and avoid any vegetable with visible signs of damage. Skins should be bright in color and relatively firm to the touch.

  2. To help avoid charring -- which is really just carbon and not a desirable trait of good grilled foods -- use a marinade for your veggies. If you don't want to bother with a marinade, at least coat your vegetables in a small amount of olive or canola oil.

  3. Since not all vegetables grill in the same amount of time, stagger the addition of your veggies to the grill. For example, you would want to add onions to the grill before peppers or zucchini and tomatoes would only require a short grilling time. Another option is to cook those veggies that require more time directly over the flame while placing other in more indirect areas. While this does save some effort, I like to opt for the staggered addition method.

When I grill vegetables, I almost always make more than I'll need for one meal. It's not unusual for me to fill two gallon-size resealable bags with prepared veggies and toss in anything from a homemade marinade to bottled Italian dressing before I fire up the grill. The leftovers find themselves in everything from lunch's sandwich to dinner's pasta salad. They're even a great snack when I find myself craving something "extra" in the afternoon.

Here's what's on our grilled vegetable menu this month:

  • Basic Grilled Veggies
  • Thai Vegetable Kabobs
  • Grilled Vegetable and Pasta Salad
  • Grilled Veggie Pesto Pizza
I'm always looking for great ways to use perfectly grilled vegetables of all varieties and I'd love it if you'd share your favorite recipes and ideas with me. Either post them to our discussion board using the form below or send me them to . Thanks in advance and enjoy the recipes!

 

Basic Grilled Veggies

This simple recipe is a great way to make a lot of grilled vegetables without a lot of fuss. If you don't have time to make the marinade, add your favorite bottled marinade or oil and vinegar-based salad dressing instead.
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 4-6 large portabella mushroom caps
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
Cut the onions into quarters, leaving the base intact to keep the layers together. Peel any outer layers that are inedible away. Halve and core the peppers, stripping away any inner membrane. Cut the ends away from the zucchini and cut lengthwise into strips about 1/4-inch thick. Place the onions, peppers, zucchini and mushrooms into a large resealable bag.

In a screw-top jar, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Screw on the lid of the jar and shake vigorously to mix. Pour the contents of the jar into the resealable bag and seal. Shake the bag to coat all of the vegetables well.

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Once preheated, add the onions to the grill. After 5 minutes, add the peppers and zucchini. After another 5 minutes, add the mushrooms and turn the other vegetables. After another 5 minutes, turn the mushrooms. After another 5 minutes, check all of the vegetables for doneness and remove those that are cooked through. Continue checking and turning the remaining vegetables until they are all cooked.

Toss the cooked vegetables together and, if desired, serve with crusty French bread and fresh tomatoes.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes
 

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