Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vegetarian Grilling

I got a gas grill. That's big news around here. I've been without a grill for eons which is a long time when you love cooking outside. Every birthday, Mother's Day and Christmas, a new gas grill has been at the top of my wish list. My husband hesitated to make the purchase because, well, because he's a vegetarian.

Yep, the veggie guy was worried that the carnivores who also live here would take over all the meals if we got a new grill. He saw the grill as nothing more than a vessel for delivering slabs of meat to the masses.

I assured him, over and over again, that the grill can also be a vessel for delicious, yumcious vegetarian cooking. He didn't believe me but he finally got the grill for me anyway. And, being the great husband he is, he didn't go out and buy some junky grill from the local Wal-Mart, he special ordered a well made grill sure to last a lifetime. In return, I set out to prove his meat thesis wrong.

The grill was delivered 2 weeks ago and I've used it 12 out of the past 14 days. Sunday brunch even found it's way off the grill.

I had some old standby recipes but I decided to take things up a notch. I searched the internet and found loads of great veggie recipes for the grill. Rob has been more than happy to be proved wrong. Every night has been a treat for him and he couldn't be more thrilled.

Oh, it hasn't been complete vegetarian heaven here as hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks have been grilled too but they stay on the left side of the grill and the vegetables and fish stay on the right side. (Lucky for me Rob isn't a vegan -- he eats fish which is great on the grill.)

So, if you would like to liven up your grill and add some vegetarian recipes to your cookbook here are a few to try:

  • Pizza. Yep, pizza! Grilled pizza has been easily the biggest hit with the kids. Just roll out the dough nice and thin. Brush olive oil all over your preheated grill. Lay the dough on the grill for a few minutes and flip over with 2 spatulas. Then add your sauce and toppings. Close the lid to help the cheese melt.
  • Sweet potatoes. This was a big hit with Rob. I peeled the sweet potatoes and then sliced them long ways in 1/4 inch slices. I marinated them in real maple syrup and a smidge of cinnamon in the fridge a few hours. Then I placed the sweet potatoes and sauce in aluminum foil with a little dab of butter on top. I wrapped up the whole thing and poked with fork so steam could escape. I put on the grill until the sweet potatoes were a little soft. Then I put them directly on the grill for just a minute or so to give them a nice crisp outside and those lovely grill marks. Totally delish!
  • Portabella mushrooms. Cover in olive oil and grill. Then put them on buns and serve with the same condiments as you use on hamburgers. Rob doesn't mind the fake hamburgers, but I do. No, I'm not a vegetarian, but it seems to me that if you're not going to eat meat then you shouldn't eat fake meat either. It just doesn't seem right to me.
  • Onions. These are favorites of mine. You can serve them on the grilled portebellas, fake burgers, or best of all imo real burgers (organic, free range of course). I slice them really thick and grill like burgers. There is an art to flipping them without them falling apart. If you're not adventurous enough to give it a try, that's okay. Just slice them how you like, mix them with a little olive oil and fold them up in aluminum foil.
  • Pineapple. My kids look at me like I was off my rocker when they saw me bringing a pineapple out to the deck. But they soon learned I was crazy like a fox. I sprinkled cinnamon sugar all over nice thick slices and grilled away. These are Rob's second new favorite grilling dish. You gotta give this a try if you haven't already. They're good enough for dessert.
  • Salmon. Rob eats fish but he finds salmon to be too heavy and too much like meat so he wasn't as excited about this dish, but it was a hit with the kids who tried it. I marinated it in soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, white wine, garlic and pepper before grilling.
  • Potatoes. This was one of our brunch dishes. I quartered the potatoes, onions, and red pepper. I tossed with fresh herbs and olive oil. I put it all in a veggie basket and grilled away. Another huge hit. Yes, you could recreate this in your oven under the broiler but that isn't nearly as fun as cooking and eating outside on the back deck on nice cool summer morning.
  • Veggies and pasta. I simply sliced some zuchini, yellow squash, and sweet peppers in half, olied them, and grilled until just soft. I then sliced them and served them atop Fetticini Alfredo.
  • Corn on the cob. Okay, I know. Everyone already does this. But I had never grilled corn on the cob before. I never had enough room for corn and other dishes so I always boiled the corn in the house. Now that I've grilled it, I'll never go back. I left the husks on and soaked the ears in water for an hour or so. I pulled off the access silk from the ends so they wouldn't burn. Then I just made sure to turn the ears often.
This is just a sampling of what we've been enjoying here at Chez Wittmann. I hope that even if you don't have a vegetarian husband, the next time you fire up the barbecue pit or gas grill you give veggies a special place on your grill.

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