Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grilled Vegetables For Your Next BBQ

During the summer months most of our weekends are booked with back-to-back barbecue invitations. Either you are inviting friends and family over for a barbecue or someone else invited you to the park, or the beach, or to their backyard for some grub.  The star of the menu is most often than not meat, meat, and dare I say more meat.  You always find your basic burger/hot dog combo with some chicken and some steak while fruits and vegetables are relegated to the side dish role in your BBQ.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my churrasco or skirt stake on the grill, but so much meat can be overwhelming.   Corn on the cob should not be the only non-meat food available at your BBQ.  So the next time you throw a BBQ remember that the summer months are when supermarkets and farmer's markets carry the freshest fruits and vegetables.  Just imagine how much better all of your fruits, yes fruits, and vegetables will taste on the grill. 

Unfortunately at the moment I don't own a grill, I've been looking to get this  Weber Q 100 Liquid Propane Table/Outdoor Grill - 386002.  It has some of the best reviews on Amazon and because I might not always have a backyard I want something that is easy to move around and will hopefully not take up too much space.  On the other hand, I also love charcoal grilling, so I also fell in love with the Weber Charcoal Go-Anywhere Grill.  This one also has amazing reviews and is thankfully in my budget range, so I think when the time comes this will be the one I get.  

Since I don't have a grill, I went with the next best thing and used the oven.  I also could have used a cast iron skillet to arrive at the desired charring effect but at least I still got the same juiciness and crispiness.  I'm learning as I go here so bare with me.

I have to be totally honest and tell you that I went about grilling my vegetables the wrong way.  I was making my Kale & Beet Leaf Chips recipe when I decided that I also wanted to grill some vegetables.  I placed the veggies in the middle rack of the oven and used the top rack for my kale chips.  Kale chips are prepared at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  After the chips were done, which took about 10 minutes, I moved my vegetables to the top rack and that's when they really started to get crispy.  The right way to grill vegetables in the oven requires that you set your oven at really high heat.  I didn't know this until I visited a couple of blogs online.  I still got the desired results, my veggies turned out crispy and juicy, it probably just took me longer at the temperature I was using.

The below recipe will work for your grill, your cast iron pan, and your oven, the main take away here is that we need to start grilling vegetables and enjoying them more often.  I bought beets, summer squash and carrots at the farmer's market which turned out really sweet and crispy.  The summer squash turned out crispy on the outside but the inside was just juiciness.   I also found some snow peas in the fridge but I didn't like how they turned out in the oven.  They lost their original crispiness.  At the end it really doesn't hurt to try any type of vegetable, you'll figure out if you don't like it afterwards.

Grilled Vegetables
Olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Alternative ingredients
Minced garlic
Cajun seasoning
Red pepper flakes
Your choice of herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme, etc..)

Here is a list of veggies you could use for grilling: Asparagus, broccoli, beets, carrots, summer squash, any type of pepper, tomatoes, onions, the list goes on.

  • Set your stove top cast iron skillet or your grill to medium heat.  
  • For your oven, recommends that you preheat your oven to between 500 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit.  The site recommends that you use a cast iron skillet or a grill pan, but I used a baking sheet pan and covered it with aluminum foil.  
Tip 1 - You shouldn't feel like you have to go run off and buy something you don't have.  I didn't have a grill, or a cast iron skillet, so I used a baking sheet and the oven.  Sometimes it's best to work with what you have.
  • Add olive oil to a small container, 1/4 cup should do, and with a brush start to coat your vegetables.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • If you have additional ingredients now is the time to sprinkle them onto your vegetables.
  • If you prefer, you can also mix the oil with your additional ingredients.  With the brush you will get an even coating of your seasoning on your vegetables.
Keep an eye on your veggies as they grill.  Your cooking time will range from between 5 to 10 minutes.  Peppers might take a little longer, while asparagus might take no time at all to cook.

Tip 2 - For dessert, why not grill some fruit instead of eating cake.  If it's a super hot day, take a scoop of ice cream or gelato and place some of your favorite charred fruit on top.  YUM!


After I finished my delicious dinner of veggies and only veggies I ended up with a lot of leftover vegetables.  I knew I was going to be eating them pretty soon, so I stored them in a container in the refrigerator.  If there is one thing you need to know about my family is that we don't like throwing out food or leaving it in the fridge forgotten.  If you cooked too much, well then you can eat it for breakfast the very next morning or take it to work for lunch.  I went with option one and used my leftover ingredients to make a recalentado for breakfast.  You make a recalentado by "reheating" whatever you  made the day before.  This usually involves a mixture of leftover rice and beans with scrambled eggs.  I once had some leftover rice and mixed it with an egg for breakfast and my boyfriend's father thought I was nuts.  As a Latina, I say this with much love, but we need to start eating rice in moderation!  I love my curves but I don't need to add to them by gorging on rice all the time.  That's why I started to cut my consumption of rice to less than one cup (8 ounces) a day.  As an alternative to this recalentado, skip the white rice and make it with some brown rice.  You can also chop your vegetables a little finer or add some crumbled tofu to supplement the rice all together.  Either way the sweetness of these grilled vegetables will outshine all other ingredients and make for a perfectly healthy and filling treat.   
  • Chop your veggies into small or large chunks (whatever style you prefer)
  • Heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, set to medium heat.
  • Let your vegetables saute for about 5 minutes.
  • If you have left over rice around add it to the pan after about 3 minutes, you want to give the veggies time to saute on their own.
  • Add eggs (cage free) - The number of eggs you use depends on the amount of veggies you chopped and the number of people you are feeding.  (I only like having one egg for breakfast so that's all I used).
  • Mix everything together and you have yourself a grilled vegetable egg stir fry.
Buen provecho! =)

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About This Blog

I started this blog because I want to introduce new and healthy ingredients into my everyday meals. Living in the NY, NJ, CT tri-state area you find a plethora of local grocery stores that service a number of diverse neighborhoods. Every time I visit one of these stores I find fruits, vegetables, and ingredients that I have never used, or that I am afraid to use. I want to incorporate these ingredients to create new and healthier ways to experience Latin food, as well as other types of cuisines. I think it's important to love and continue our cooking traditions while also testing and incorporating new and healthier ingredients and techniques.

One of the most distinct ingredients that I know is not widely used in Latin cuisine is tofu, and it’s a shame. I have had tofu at Chinese and Thai restaurants before, but I never gave the ingredient a second thought. Tofu is such an amazing alternative to meats and it’s super healthy and cheap! This one ingredient got me thinking about all of the other healthy and fresh ingredients I could be using to develop Latin infused dishes that everyone in my family will love. That’s why I decided to name this blog Tofu con Saz√≥n!