As the summer heat pours on, the impulse to spend time cooking over a hot stove definitely diminishes. However, this does not mean an end to great tasting meals. Summer heat may make us wilt, but without it summer vegetables would not sweeten or ripen.
When the midsummer heat is on, an ever-growing assortment of fresh vegetables flows into the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. Every stand is brimming with local corn, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers and more. Add this harvest to America’s love of outdoor grilling and you can see where we are heading.
Yes! Grilling vegetables—it’s easy (thanks to a wonderful grilling basket, described at the bottom of this post), way cooler than the stove, and so tasty.
Note: Ingredients with marked “*” are found at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.
Quickest and Simplest: Grilled Zucchini
When you need a hot vegetable in hot weather, you can prepare this recipe for one or two people in minutes.
1 washed medium zucchini*
¼ cup olive oil
2-3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese*
Salt and pepper
Slice zucchini lengthwise or diagonally into ¼-inch strips. Brush or toss with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place in a grilling basket, put the basket on a medium-high hot grill, and close the lid. Cook for 8-10 minutes, turning the zucchini once after about 7 minutes. Take off grill, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm.
Grilled Vegetables: Perfect Party Platter
Brightly colored and packed with flavor, this little-fuss veggie platter is perfect as an entree, an appetizer or a snack. Grilling brings out a special sweetness while the seasoning kicks the flavor up a notch. The key to success with this recipe is to cut all vegetables about a quarter inch thick.
- 3 sweet peppers*, seeded and quartered
- 3 yellow squash* (about 1 pound), sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch thick strips
- 3 zucchini* (about 12 ounces), sliced lengthwise into rectangles, or into eighths to form ¼ inch thick wedges
- 3 Japanese eggplant* (12 ounces total), sliced diagonally into ¼ inch thick strips
- 12 oyster or shiitake mushrooms* whole if small, or halved or quartered if large
- 12 cherry tomatoes* or 3 coarsely salad or plum tomatoes*, seeded then chopped
- 1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus*, trimmed
- 12 green onions* or scallions*, roots cut off, or 1 sweet onion* sliced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves*, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves *
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves *
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves*
Keep all types of vegetables separate. Heat the grill to medium-high heat or prepare the barbecue (also to medium-high heat). Brush the vegetables with ¼ cup of the oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill each type of vegetable in a grilling basket until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. The key to those great grill marks is letting the vegetables sit for a few minutes before turning.
Note: Don’t fear substitutions in this very flexible recipe. If you don’t like tomatoes, don’t use them. If you can’t find one ingredient, then skip it. Cook what you like best or what’s plentiful in your garden or at the Market.
A grilling basket is a wonderful tool for outdoor cooking. It’s made of sturdy stainless steel mesh, low-sided, and flat-bottomed with a handle. The cooking basket allows the full flavor of grilling to develop while preventing small items from falling through or sticking to the grill grate. The basket is also ideal for grilling meatballs or fish.
A version of this market recipe appears in this week’s edition of Saratoga Today. Ingredients marked with an asterisk (*) are available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.