Archive for August, 2014

Eggplant

Eggplant is often an underappreciated vegetable. Most people think of it as a vegetarian alternative to meat in dishes like lasagna and babaganoush. And while the funky-looking purple vegetable performs adequately in these dishes, the grill gives eggplant the opportunity to really shine.eggplant

Choosing the Perfect Eggplant

Eggplant isn’t a vegetable most people eat every day, so here are a few tips on choosing one that’s fresh and tasty. First, look for an eggplant that is smooth and shiny and feels a bit heavy. The best eggplants will be in stores in late summer, so if you’re shopping out of season, be extra careful that you’re getting a fresh one. If eggplants are stored too long, they can become bitter. Second, press on the skin gently to make sure the eggplant isn’t mushy. It should give a little, but bounce right back (sort of like a cucumber).

Why Eggplant Deserves a Place on Your Grill

If you’ve never eaten eggplant before, you may be wondering why should give it a try. Eggplants are powerhouse vegetables, offering a wide variety of nutrients and antioxidents, thanks to the dark purple skin. They are a great source of fiber, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B3, Vitamin K, potassium, and folate. In addition to their nutritional benefits, eggplants also make a hearty, filling addition to the menu. They can hold their own as a stand-alone side dish or make the perfect complement to a mixed grill.

How to Grill Perfect Eggplant

Slice the eggplant in half length-wise or into round slices. Salt generously and allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. The salt will draw out the bitter juices and keep the eggplant from soaking up too much oil. When you’re ready to grill, rinse the salt off the eggplant, brush with oil and season to taste. Grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side or until grill marks turn dark  and flesh is tender. The thicker your slices, the longer grilling time you’ll need. Below are some seasoning ideas to help the flavor of your eggplant really pop:

  • Garlic-Herb–Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with minced garlic, salt, and parsley.
  • Greek–Olive oil, minced onion, and minced olives. Garnish with feta cheese after grilling.
  • Italian–Olive oil, minced garlic, and oregano. Layer with mozzarella and sliced or grilled tomatoes
  • Parmesan-crusted–Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic and salt. Grill until tender and then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

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Broccoli

Vegetables on the grill take a little more finesse than your average hamburger or hot dog, but they are well worth the effort. Broccoli is one vegetable that isn’t often considered for the grill, but with just a little know-how, grilled broccoli may just become a family favorite. broccoli

Broccoli on the Grill

The best way to cook broccoli on the grill is to steam or roast it. If roasting, brush with oil first to prevent sticking. You can also marinate the broccoli for 10 to 20 minutes before cooking to add flavor. Roasted broccoli will also pick up that unique grill flavor, so don’t go too heavy on the spices. Try a simple marinade made with garlic and lemon for just enough flavor.

Roasting Broccoli on the Grill

If you’ve never made broccoli on the grill before, don’t worry. It’s really very simple. Here’s an easy recipe to get you started, but remember that you can tweak your seasonings and cooking time to taste:

  • Cut broccoli into florets or spears
  • Place in boiling water to blanch for 3 minutes. This will soften up the broccoli and help it cook faster.
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic, salt, and parmesan cheese.
  • Heat the grill to high heat.
  • Place broccoli on a layer of aluminum foil. You can turn the edges up to create a tray that keeps the broccoli from spilling onto the grill and makes it easier to remove.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes or until broccoli reaches desired tenderness

You can also cook the broccoli over indirect heat by using the burners on only one side of the grill. This method may take a little longer for the broccoli to finish cooking, but it will be less likely to char.

Steaming Broccoli on the Grill

If you don’t like the idea of your broccoli taking on the charred flavor that accompanies roasting, you can try steaming it instead. You can easily steam a side dish of broccoli while grilling chicken or steak. Simply make a pouch by folding a large piece of aluminum foil in half and crimping the edges. Place broccoli pieces inside along with a small amount of water. You can also add a little butter for flavor. Seal the pouch and place on the grill over medium heat for 7-8 minutes. Be careful when you open the pouch, as the steam inside can cause burns.

If you don’t consider yourself a broccoli person, it may be because you’ve never had it cooked in a way that appeals to your taste buds. Cooking broccoli on the grill gives it a unique flavor that may just make a broccoli lover out of you.

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