Summer is slipping away but we imagine you haven’t put the grill away yet. In fact, grilled foods served indoors—or on the patio with a blanket around your shoulders—is one of the best ways to enjoy the new snap of autumn.
We still love a grilled steak or salmon cooked this time of year, but we’re having the most fun with vegetables. You may be, too. According to current trends, it’s more likely than ever that you’re flipping eggplant rounds along with your burgers. Eaters are turning to plant-based meals—for health reasons, but also for the variety of textures and flavors they add to a meal. All signs point to more plants on the plate in 2017 and beyond.
You can grill pretty much any vegetable. Summer squashes, sweet peppers, and onions. potatoes, and carrots, are easy cut-and-gill choices. Cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, or mushrooms are almost as easy. But you can also branch out and try more unusual choices, such as quartered heads of romaine lettuce, celery root, and even peaches and figs.
To make sure that your produce is prepared well and infused with flavor, follow these tips:
Cut your vegetables uniformly. They cook consistently if they’re the same size.
Skewer smaller vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. You can also cook them in a grilling basket, but don’t overfill it or they’ll steam.
Cut larger vegetables to expose the most surface area to the grill. Slice eggplants, onions, and tomatoes into rounds. Halve summer squashes and carrots or cut them into thick lengthwise slices.
Rub oil over the entire surface of your prepped vegetables with your fingers. This coats the vegetables more lightly, which helps keep dripping oil out of the grill. It also prepares your vegetables for seasonings.
Season. A dusting of salt and pepper may be all you need. If you’re in an experimental mood, try a marinade or a homemade rub of herbs and spices. Experiment with seasoned salts, oregano, rosemary, paprika, thyme, and garlic powder.
Cook dense vegetables first, like cauliflower, potatoes, and carrots. You can also roast or sauté them first then finish them on the grill. Or sear them over high heat then move them to a cooler spot on the grill to finish cooking.
Gather individual servings of hearty vegetables in a packet of aluminum foil along with whole fresh herbs, salt, and olive oil. Include sausages or other pre-cooked meats for a full meal guests can open at the table.
Cook delicate vegetables and fruits on an upper rack or on a cooler part of the grill.
Drizzle vegetables with vinaigrette after grilling for extra flavor. Or serve them plain with parsley oil or aioli on the side. For an extra serving of vegetables, make baba ghanouj with roasted eggplant and serve with quartered and grilled carrots, zucchini, and broccolini.
We hope you enjoy your final weeks on the patio!
Until next time,
The Mastro Team