Fresh vegetables are not the soft fragile eatables they pose as on the farmer’s stand or in the supermarket aisle. Admit it. You pick up a summer squash and hold it lightly, careful not to scratch the skin or drop it to, oh no! splatter. You handle satiny tomatoes and sweet peppers no more than two at a time in case they, what? Crack? Wrinkle?
Stop coddling the produce and toss it on the fire.
The grill, that modern throwback to an open fire spit, can also add a tasty crisp or a well-done char to most of the vegetables coming out of the fields as we speak. Corn, tomato, squash, and potato, to name just some of the locally-harvested produce, are being thrown on the barbie by more and more outdoor chefs seeking new tastes. Rightly so. Neither boiling, baking or sauteeing can provide that primal charred taste that’s such a favorite in summertime.
So before summer’s over, grab the grill tongs and visit your local farm stand or market display. With just a little care in timing and watching, the vegetables could become the star of the picnic. No grill? These recipes can also please straight from the oven.
Something new for the next barbecue
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1¼ C shredded cheddar cheese
1¼ C grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (4 oz) pimentos, drained
1 Tbls minced fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
10 small sweet peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced in half lengthwise
Set grill to medium-high heat. Place cheeses, garlic, pimentos and basil in a large bowl. With an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the sweet pepper halves with filling.
Place the filled peppers on a grill pan or cookie sheet to keep the filling from running onto the grill. Cook over medium-high heat until they start to char and soften. Leave lid on. Grill about 5 minutes. The filling should be warm and melted and peppers slightly charred when done.
Serve peppers while they’re hot. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Marinade dresses summer’s harvest
1 yellow, red or green bell pepper, seeds removed
1 medium zucchini
1 medium red onion, sliced into rings, not too thin
1 C mushroom halves
1 C cherry or grape tomatoes
1 C summer squash
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
Juice of 1 lemon OR 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt (sea salt is nice in grilled dishes)
1/2 tsp white or black pepper
Optional: 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Chop the vegetables into bite-sized chunks. Place chunks in a large zip-lock bag. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the vegetables. Shake to coat and put in refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour.
Heat the grill to high direct heat. When grill is ready, spread vegetables on a grilling pan, baking pan or cookie sheet. The pan helps prevent the vegetables from falling through the grill.
Place the pan over high heat turning once with a spoon or spatula. Cook about 5-6 minutes per side. You want the veggies to get a nice char from the grill, but not to get too soft. Remove and spoon into serving bowl. Stir before plating to distribute the flavors. Makes about 4 servings.
A perfect pairing for late summer BBQs
3/4 C mayonnaise
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tsp finely chopped lemon zest
squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
4 – 6 large ears of grilled corn removed from the cob
2 large granny smith apples, or any firm, tart apple, chopped
¼ C finely diced red pepper
3 tbsp chopped green onion
salt and pepper to season
Prepare the salad dressing by adding the chives and lemon zest to the 3/4 cup of mayonnaise and mixing together well. Add a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice to taste if desired.
Toss together the corn kernels, apples, red pepper and green onion. Add about 3/4 cup of the lemon chive mayo to the rest of the salad ingredients and toss together well. Use more or less of the mayo to taste. Chill the salad for an hour or two before serving. Will make four to six side salads.
— By Jean Redstone