ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — What ode to summer vegetables on the grill hasn’t yet been written?
Independence Day is the high holy day of grilling, but as we move into high summer for New Mexico-grown fruits and vegetables, there are plenty more great reasons to acknowledge the sublime art of summer vegetable grilling.
All year we wait for sweet corn on the cob, juicy zucchini, crisp green beans, luscious cauliflower, tasty peppers and succulent eggplant, so this is the time of year to make the most of our vegetables and to eat them in large quantities.
It’s also comforting to know that you don’t have to be a grill master to master the grill – especially when it comes to veggies. All you really need is a little oil and a
sprinkle of salt and pepper. Though grilling vegetables is easier than meat – you can’t (technically) over or undercook them – there are a few simple tricks that help to ensure they’re just the right amount of smoky and crispy.
A few quick tips include:
• Don’t go crazy with oil. A little goes a long way, and too much oil can yield soggy calorie bombs, not to mention, it can be a fire hazard.
• Sear veggies on high heat and then move them to a cooler part of the grill – ideally a higher rack – to finish cooking. This is a little trickier with a charcoal grill where waiting for the coals to be the right temperature is key. Cooking on too high of heat can burn the outer layer while the inside stays raw, especially when it comes to denser vegetables, like potatoes or eggplant. (You can also pre-cook some items like potatoes and toss them on the grill for a quick char.)
• Most marinades don’t need much time to soak into vegetables. Some can even be brushed on after grilling.
• Grilled veggies taste great with grilled lemon rosemary chicken, Cajun chicken, shrimp skewers or alongside a burger.
• Eat them hot off the grill, warm later in the day, or cold out of the refrigerator up to five days later.
What uber-fresh food should you buy at your local growers’ market in July? One solution to this convivial conundrum is to buy a little bit (or a lot) of everything. Grilling allows you to mix and match, plan a little, or hardly plan at all.
What you find at market depends on where you live, how the weather has been, what the farmer has planted, and much more. But this month, look for:
LOCAL JULY VEGETABLES: Arugula, beans, beets, blackeyed peas, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, greens, herbs, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, salad greens, spinach, summer squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, zucchini.
LOCAL JULY FRUITS: Apricots, blackberries, cherries, figs, melons, nectarines, peaches, plums, strawberries, watermelons.
For holidays, weekends, or weeknight meals that keep the kitchen cool and clean, lighting up your grill is the best way to celebrate summer’s locally grown vegetables!
Denise Miller is executive director of the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association. Visit FarmersMarketsNM.org and DoubleUp.NM.org.
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients.
After grilling, transfer vegetables to a large bowl, pour Balsamic Dressing on top, sprinkle with parsley/basil and gently mix.
Serve hot, warm or cold. Refrigerate covered for up to 3-4 days.
About 2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed (about 2 ounces or about 2 large handfuls)
1/3 cup olive oil
Half of 1 large shallot (about the size of 2 cloves of garlic)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (apple cider or other may be substituted)
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste (agave may be substituted)
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Splash water, optional
Add all ingredients except water into blender of food processor and blend on high speed until smooth. (You may add a dab of water to get the ingredients to reach the blades.)
Serve vinaigrette with the vegetables either on the side or drizzled over the top. Vinaigrette will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon pepper
In a bowl, whisk together ingredients.
Place your cut vegetables in a large baking dish. Cover with the marinade and stick the dish in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Put vegetables on grill and enjoy.
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
In a small bowl, whisk together the whole grain mustard, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard and a dash of salt and black pepper until combined. Whisk in the olive oil until fully incorporated and then stir in the fresh parsley and thyme. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside.
When grill or grill pan is hot, add veggies and grill for about 5 minutes before flipping and grilling for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Drizzle veggies with the mustard vinaigrette and garnish with fresh micro greens.
This is good on all kinds of vegetables, but we especially love it on eggplant.