Thursday, February 3, 2011

Easy as... Grilled Vegetables

Did a training session today for a bunch of new recruits here at barbecue headquarters. Part of their training was cooking on a gas grill as most people learn best hands on. Came up with a simple lunch menu that can teach anybody the basics of grilling, while at the same time turn out something delicious.

• red peppers, yellow peppers
• zucchini
• mushrooms
• red onion
• burgers
• Italian salad dressing
• balsamic vinegar
• olive oil
• course salt
• course pepper

Grilling is easy and fun and an entire meal can be created with very little work. Cut the peppers into large slices, obviously remove the core, top, and seed and cut into wide long meaty strips. Cut the Zucchini into long strips either the length of the Zucchini or on an angle all about 1/4" thick, you don't want them so thin that they'll stick to the grill yet thin enough that they'll cook all the way through. Toss those veggies into a Ziplock bag and toss them with the Italian dressing, you can create your own veggie marinade but Italian dressing is ready made for the amateur griller. Another easy veggie marinade is balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and vegetable seasoning; get creative if you don't like these two; many options available. Set them in the fridge.

Take the mushrooms and cut them into slices or if you've already purchased the sliced mushrooms you're ready to go. Cut the onion into thin strips and combine with the mushrooms. All into a foil pan, generous splash of balsamic vinegar, splash of olive oil, course salt and pepper sprinkle.

Preheat your grill to 500°F and toss your burgers on, burgers are a great way to practice grilling meat and getting diamond pattern sear marks; see Perfect Steak Grilling Guide. Once the burgers are on add the tray of mushrooms to a warming rack or unused side of the grill, you want to give them some heat but certainly not as much as the burgers. At about the halfway point of grilling your burgers, it varies depending on the burgers you are using, take the veggies out of the Ziplock with a set of tongs and place them on the grill. veggies only take about 5 minutes to grill at 500°F and take one flip in the middle; you're softening the vegetables on the inside and searing them on the outside. Don't burn the flesh completely because that doesn't taste good yet don't serve them raw either, also gross.

In all there is about 20 minutes of cook time in the above and everything should be able to come off the grill at the same time. Grilled vegetables are great on their own and better with a little crumbled goat cheese and roasted almond slivers on top, both available at the grocery store. The mushrooms and onions can either be eaten alone or as a garnish on the burgers. You could even toast some thick slices of French bread top them with spinach, the mushroom and onion mix and possible a slice of brie cheese. All in all, nice sides to an otherwise tired meal.

Those who love what they do should teach, passion cannot be bound by textbook.

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