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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Fresh Herbs

TIP OF THE DAY: Israeli Salad

Israeli salad (salat yerakot, vegetable salad*, in Hebrew) is a chopped salad of diced tomato and cucumber. It can also include bell pepper, onion, and parsley (that’s the way we like it). Other ingredients, such as carrot and ethnic-specific ingredients (more about that in a few paragraphs) can be added. The dressing is fresh lemon juice, olive oil or both. A dash of sumac or za’atar (see below) is optional.

In Israel, the ingredients are diced very fine, and it is a badge of honor among cooks to dice as finely and perfectly as possible. Chunkier versions appear in the U.S.

As a kibbutz tradition in Israel (and now ubiquitous at restaurants and cafés), Israeli salad is typically eaten for breakfast, along with a host of other options†. It is also served as a side dish at lunch and dinner, and added to pita along with falafel or shawarma.

ISRAELI SALAD HISTORY

Israeli salad is actually an Arab salad, adapted from a Palestinian country salad and popularized in the kibbutzes of Israel. Variations include ancestral seasonings: chopped ginger and green chili peppers show India influences, preserved lemon peel and cayenne pepper are popular with North African Jews. Bukharan Jews, who immigrated from Central Asia, dress the salad with vinegar only. A Persian variation substitutes mint for parsley.

   

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Israeli salad: refreshing, low in calories and good for you. Photo © Pushiama | IST.

 
RECIPE: ISRAELI SALAD

Truth be told, although an ideal Israeli salad is known for its fine, even dice, dicing is our least favorite kitchen task. So we make a medium dice, imperfect in every way, and it works just fine.

You can serve Israeli salad plain or with greens underneath; as a side dish; in a pita with hummus, falafel or both; and on a mezze plate with hummus, babaganoush, grape leaves, tabbouleh and tzatziki or labneh. Add feta and Kalamata olives for a Greek salad, and on top of that, add chickpeas for a Middle Eastern salad.

  • 6 Persian‡ cucumbers or 3 peeled Kirbys, finely chopped (no need to peel the Persian cukes)
  • 4 plum, San Marzano or other roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 4 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced, or equivalent red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • Optional: 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional seasoning: sumac or za’atar (see below)
  •  
    Plus

  • Pita triangles, warmed or toasted
  •  
    *Israeli salad is also called salat katzutz (Hebrew for chopped salad) and salat aravi (Hebrew for Arab salad).

    †The Israeli breakfast is a dairy meal (meatless), starting with eggs in different styles, including shakshouka (recipe), eggs poached in a spicy tomato. In addition to Israeli salad, other Middle Eastern dishes may be served, such as baba ghanoush (eggplant spread), hummus and labaneh, a thick-strained yogurt. The options continue with breads, cheeses and fish, such as pickled herring, sardines and smoked salmon; olives and fresh vegetables (cucumbers, green bell peppers, onions, radishes, shredded carrots, tomatoes).

     

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    Persian cucumbers. Photo courtesy John Vena Produce.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, along with the optional sumac and za’atar.
     
    MEET THE INGREDIENTS

    Persian Cucumbers

    Persian cucumbers don’t require peeling. They were developed in 1939 on a kibbutz in northern Israeli; the local cucumbers were small and tasty but susceptible to rot and disease. The breeders hybridized them with cucumbers from China, India, Japan, Surinam and the U.S. to improve disease resistance; and crossed them with English and Dutch varieties to be seedless.

    The result was a small, very flavorful cucumber with crisp, sweet, succulent flesh, a smooth, thin, edible skin and without developed seeds. [Source]

     
    They range from four to six inches in length. In Israel, the variety was called Beit Alpha, after its birthplace. Some American growers called it a Persian cucumber or Lebanese cucumber. You can find them at farmers markets, higher-end supermarkets (we found them at Trader Joe’s). Or, buy Persian cucumber seeds,also called baby cucumbers, and grow your own.

    Sumac

    Sumac is ground from a red berry-like drupe that grows in clusters on bushes in subtropical and temperate regions. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy, crimson spice. (One of the species not used is the poison sumac shrub.)

    The word “sumac” comes from the old Syriac Aramaic summaq, meaning red. In Middle Eastern cuisine, the spice is used to add a tangy, lemony taste to meats and salads; and to garnish hummus and rice. The spice is also a component of the popular spice blend, za’atar, below.
     
    Za’atar

    Also spelled zahtar, za’atar is a spice blend that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. It is actually the word for Lebanese oregano, a member of the mint family Lamiaceaea, and known since antiquity as hyssop. The za’atar blend includes spices well-known in European cuisines, with the unique components of Lebanese oregano and sumac berries, which impart a tart, fruity flavor that differentiates za’atar from other spice blends.

    Traditional ingredients include marjoram, oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, savory and sumac. Za’atar is used to season meat and vegetables, mixed with olive oil and spread on pita wedges or flatbread, added to hummus, and for a modern touch, sprinkled on pizza, especially ones with feta cheese.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Zucchini Ribbons With Pasta

    When we were 10 years old, Mom planted zucchini in the backyard. We watched in awe as they multiplied faster than the brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene from Fantasia. It wasn’t a big plot—maybe 6′ x 8’—but it produced so much zucchini, we couldn’t eat half of it, and gave the rest away.

    A pre-tip tip: Pick or buy zucchini on the smaller side. As they get bigger, they get more watery and bland. We left a few on the vine until the end of the season. There’s a photo of us with our brother, holding up one that grew to three feet long and very wide in girth. (According to Guinness World Records, the longest zucchini measured 7 ft 10.3 inches, harvested in October 2005 in a home garden in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.)

    HOW VERSATILE IS ZUCCHINI?

    That summer Mom made zucchini crudités with dips; zucchini grilled, steamed, stewed, stir-fried, stuffed and baked; zucchini bread and muffins; zucchini casseroles and lasagna; zucchini pickles and salads; zucchini soup and our very favorite childhood recipe, fried zucchini with a squeeze of lemon (and of course, ketchup).

    Much of the zucchini we gave away to our grandmother was returned to our home as ratatouille, a delicious Provençal summer dish that also includes bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, onions and tomatoes.

       

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    Regular pasta ribbons mixed with zucchini ribbons, to create a fun dish that really cuts down on calories. Photo courtesy Vegetarian Everyday Cookbook.

     
    Here’s Nana’s recipe. It can be served hot or cold, or used as a topping for bruschetta or crostini. Serving it chilled or room temperature, topped with Greek yogurt and a chiffonade of fresh basil, is a delicious first course with toasts or crackers, Or, use it to top salad fixings, and garnished with black olives.

    CELEBRATE NATIONAL ZUCCHINI DAY

    August 8th, National Zucchini Day, is a good day for zucchini in any form. Last year, we made zucchini “pasta” with the Microplane Spiral Cutter, a gadget that peels whole zucchini into pasta-like strands (it does the same with cucumbers, carrots and other root vegetables). You can use a box grater, but for less than $15, this gadget makes it easy.

    Since then, we’ve been playing with other ways to use zucchini pasta, including swirling the uncooked ribbons into a bird’s nest shape, filled with deviled eggs, egg salad, scrambled eggs and, beyond the nest-and-eggs theme, with marinated cherry tomatoes and other salad ingredients.

    But today, we share this idea sent to us from Good Eggs [a supplier of the exceptional produce and specialty foods], excerpted from The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook: A Year of Cooking on Martha’s Vineyard.

    The recipe combines conventional ribbon pasta (long strands, like spaghetti and fettuccine) with zucchini ribbons, and makes the pasta dish more nutritious. Zucchini contains lots of vitamin C, plus B6, magnesium, iron and calcium.

    But more important to most people, cooked zucchini has just 20 calories per cup, compared with 182 calories for pasta (174 calories for whole wheat pasta). Do the math—and use whole wheat pasta instead of refined white flour pasta for lots more fiber.
     
    RECIPE: REGULAR & ZUCCHINI PASTA WITH CRAB

    Crab adds a touch of elegance to this pasta dish, but you can use any seafood (clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp, etc.) or make a vegetarian version.

    Ingredients

  • ½ pound picked crabmeat
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 medium summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini or one of each)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces thick spaghetti or bucatini*
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, cut in slivers
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  •  
    *Barilla makes both of these round ribbon pasta shapes. However, since the zucchini ribbons are flat, we went with fettuccine, a flat ribbon pasta (linguine is a thinner version).

     

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    Who’d have guessed it’s zucchini? Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog. See our Pasta Glossary for the different pasta shapes.

     

    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil.

    2. COMBINE in a small bowl the crab, jalapeño and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Chop half of the mint and mix gently with the crab.

    3. PUT the remaining mint in a second bowl. Grate the squash using a large-hold grater, stopping short of the seedy cores. Add the squash to the mint along with vinegar, garlic, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix and set aside.

    4. COOK the pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated crab, marinated squash and basil and heat through.

    5. DRAIN the pasta, reserving some pasta water. Add the pasta to the crab mixture along with some reserved pasta water (enough to loosen the sauce). Heat, tossing to mix well. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

     
    ZUCCHINI HISTORY

    A botanical fruit†, zucchini is treated as a vegetable, used as a savory dish or accompaniment (with the exception of zucchini bread and muffins).

    All squash originated in Central and South America, and was eaten for thousands of years before Europeans discovered it in the 16th century. It grew in different shapes, including round zucchini balls that you can grow from heirloom seeds.

    Christopher Columbus originally brought seeds to the Mediterranean region and Africa. However, the long, green zucchini that have become the standard were developed at the end of the 19th century near Milan, Italy.

    Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo, is a member of the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae. The word squash comes from the Narraganset language of the Native Americans of Rhode Island, who grew askutasquash, “a green thing eaten raw.” The Pilgrims had difficulty pronouncing the whole word, and shortened it to squash. It was an important food crop for both peoples.

    The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash (zucca is the word for pumpkin).

    A word about squash blossoms: A long orange blossom grows on the end of each emerging zucchini. It is considered a delicacy, and can be stuffed and fried or pan-fried plain. Alas, this treat was not widely known in our youth, and Mom simply tossed them out.

     
    †All squash are botanical fruits. Zucchini is the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower. Here’s the difference between fruits and vegetables.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Elote & Esquites, Mexican Corn Recipes

    Elote is the Mexican version of corn on the cob, a popular street food. The ear of corn is roasted or boiled in the husk, then husked and served on a stick with condiments. If the kernels are removed from the corn and served in a bowl, the dish is called esquitas. These recipes are also made at home, where corn holders often replace the stick.

    Corn on a stick has become popular in the U.S. at state fairs, and as street food in areas as disperse as Chicago and Texas.

    Elote is the word for corn in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs (the Spanish word for corn is maíz). The cooked corn is served with a range of condiments: butter, cotija cheese (and/or feta in the U.S.), chili powder, lemon or lime juice, mayonnaise, sour cream (crema in Mexico) and salt. Popular combinations include chili powder and lime juice in Mexico, butter and cheese in the U.S.

    In some areas of Mexico, the cooked kernels are cut into a bowl, topped with the same condiments and eaten with a spoon. This variation is called esquites (or ezquites) in southern and central Mexico, and troles or trolelotes in the north. (The word esquites comes from the Nahuatl word ízquitl, toasted corn.)

       

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    Make elote at home. Photo courtesy IWashYouDry.com.

     
    CORN PORN

    Our colleague Hannah Kaminsky created what she calls “corn porn.”

    “The simplest elements of a meal,” says Hannah, “those unassuming side dishes that are all too often overshadowed by flashier, more expensive or more complex main dishes, serve up far more nuance than they’re given credit for. A perfect example of this is the humble ear of corn.

    “As summer marches on and those golden yellow kernels swell larger, juicier and sweeter underneath the hot sun, truly sumptuous fresh corn is a rare treat despite its ubiquity. A whole world of flavor can be found within those pale green husks, just beyond the tangled forest of corn silk, if only one knows how coax it out.

    “Finesse is the key to letting such a pared-down dish shine, accentuating the inherent flavor of is base ingredients without covering them up with a heavy-handed smattering of seasonings. Elote, served up either straight on the cob or sheared off and mixed up in the trolelotes presentation, is worth getting excited about.”

    A vegan, Hannah eschews the butter, cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream used to bind the seasonings. Instead, she created the vegan sauce recipe below and serves the corn esquitas-style, as kernels in a bowl.

     

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    Trolelotes, garnished with butter, cheese, chili powder, lime and mayonnaise. Photo courtesy ShopCookServe.com. Here’s their trolelotes recipe.

     

     
    RECIPE: ELOTE OR ESQUITAS WITH CASHEW SAUCE

    Don’t want cashew sauce? Load up on the original condiments: butter, cotija cheese (substitute feta or use both), chili powder, lemon or lime juice, mayonnaise and sour cream.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 8 ears sweet corn, husked
  • 2 tablespoons oliveoil
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 clove garlic, eoughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • Optional garnish: chili powder
  • Preparation

    1. SOAK the cashews for 3 hours and thoroughly drain them.

    2. MAKE the sauce. Place the cashews, garlic and lime juice in a food processor and pulse to combine. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula so that the nuts are fairly well broken down. Add the nutritional yeast, agave, paprika, cayenne and salt, pulsing to incorporate.

    3. DRIZZLE in the water, allowing the motor to run slowly to blend thoroughly. The sauce should still be a bit coarse in texture, and the small pieces of cashew that remain will emulate the traditional curds of cotija cheese.

    4. COOK the corn on a hot grill, or indoors on a large griddle over high heat. Depending on the size of your cooking surface, you may need to work in batches since the corn must make full contact directly with the surface. Lightly brush the corn with oil and grill the corn until lightly charred, turning as needed. This process should take approximately 10 minutes, but let the color of the corn serve as your guide. Set aside to cool.

    5. CUT the kernels off the corn cobs and place them in a large bowl. Pour the cashew sauce on top and mix thoroughly. Add the fresh cilantro, tossing to combine. Divide the corn into 6 to 8 cups or bowls and top with a sprinkle of chili powder.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Food In A Martini Glass

    martini-glass-inspiredesignandcreate-230

    A Caprese salad, made with cherry tomatoes
    and bocconcini.* Photo courtesy Inspire,
    Design and Create. Here’s the recipe.

     

    If you own Martini glasses but don’t use them often enough to justify the space, send them from the bar to the kitchen. When they come out, filled with food instead of drink, family and friends will be delighted. If you have oversize Martini glasses, so much the better.

    12 WAYS TO USE MARTINI GLASSES—BEYOND DRINKS

  • Bread pudding, custard, mousse, other puddings
  • Caprese salad with cherry tomatoes and bocconcini substituting for sliced tomato and mozzarella (photo at left)
  • Chopped salad or green salad (see recipe below)
  • Gazpacho or other chilled soup
  • Fruit salad or compote (try watermelon salad, cubed or in balls, with feta and shredded basil)
  • Ice cream scoops or sundaes
  • Mashed potatoes (garnish with chives, bacon, grated cheese, whatever)
  • Nibbles with coffee (cookie bits, mini biscotti, chocolates, chocolate lentils, marshmallows, etc.)
  • Seafood salad (here’s a Vietnamese crab salad recipe)
  • Shrimp cocktail (try this shrimp cocktail with avocado recipe)
  • Sorbet with fruit or other toppings (you can marinate the fruit in brandy or fruit liqueur—recipe)
  • Yogurt parfaits
  •  

    RECIPE: APPETIZER SALAD WITH FRESH MOZZARELLA

    If you don’t like fennel, substitute ingredients you do like in the recipe below, from EatWisconsinCheese.com. Also take a look at this Dirty Martini Salad—simple greens with olives and an olive dressing (the dressing has chopped olives, vodka and olive oil).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 celery heart
  • 1 heart of romaine
  • 9 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (or cheese of choice)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground white pepper
  •  

    fennel-salad-martini-glass-wmmb-230

    A Martini glass can be repurposed to
    serve different courses of food. Photo
    courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. WASH and thoroughly dry the fennel, celery and romaine. Cut the fennel into thin slices, about 2 cups. Cut the celery into julienne strips, about 1/2 cup. Reserve four well-shaped romaine leaves for garnish; then cut the remaining romaine into julienne strips, about 3 cups. Cut the mozzarella into thin strips. Place all into a large mixing bowl.

    2. PUT the olive oil, lemon juice, mascarpone, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender container. Blend until thick and smooth, about 5 seconds. Pour over the salad; toss to coat. Divide the salad, arranging on serving plates, using the reserved lettuce leaves for garnish.

     
    *Bocconcini are bite-size fresh mozzarella balls. You can substitute ciliegine (cherry size) or perlini (pearl size) if you can’t find bocconcini. Here’s a recipe that adds bowtie pasta for a Caprese pasta salad.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make The Best French Fries

    fries-calphalon-fryer-WS-230

    If you love to make French fries, you need a fry basket. Photo courtesy Calphalon.

     

    Today is National French Fry Day, the perfect day to explore how to make the best French fries.

    We contacted our friends at the Idaho Potato Commission, a website with tons of tips and recipes.

    They start by advising you to buy Idaho potatoes, which are branded russet potatoes. In actuality, depending on where potatoes are grown, they will have more or less moisture. Idaho russets have less moisture, which is desirable for crisper fries.

    Here’s how chefs do it—a twice-fried method:

    HOW TO FRY PERFECT FRENCH FRIES

    1. WASH and scrub the potato skins well, and allow to air-dry in a single layer on a sheet pan.

    2. USE a French fry cutter to cut the potatoes into the desired size and shape, leaving the skins on. RINSE thoroughly so the excess starches and sugars are removed.

     
    At this point, you can leave the sliced potatoes covered with water in the fridge up to 24 hours in advance of cooking.

    3. SPIN the potatoes dry with a salad spinner or drain on a drip screen (i.e., cooling rack) before frying.

    4. BLANCH or partially cook the fries to keep the potatoes from oxidizing/darkening, in a 250°F fryer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the fryer and drain. Allow the fries to cool to room temperature before the final fry. Fries should be bendable. Then, chill in the fridge before the final fry.

    5. FINISH the fries in the fryer at 350°F for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and fully cooked. Remove and drain well. TIP: Fill the fry basket only half full. Better oil circulation results in crisper fries.

    6. After draining on a screen, season with salt. Do not season over the hot oil! Consider seasoning with dried herbs as well—rosemary or thyme, for example—or substituting garlic salt.

     

    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH FRIES

    Potatoes originated in Peru and spread to other parts of Latin America. Fried potatoes—cooking potatoes in fat over a fire—is a practice that’s thousands of years old.

    Potatoes were “discovered” and brought back to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors—where they were uses as hog feed! The French were convinced that potatoes caused leprosy, and French Parliament banned the cultivation of potatoes in 1748.

    A French army medical officer, Antoine-Augustine Parmentier, was forced to eat potatoes as a prisoner of war, and discovered their culinary potential. Through his efforts, in 1772, the Paris Faculty of Medicine finally proclaimed that potatoes were edible for humans—though it took a famine in 1785 for the French to start eating them in earnest.

    In 1802, Thomas Jefferson’s White House chef, Honoré Julien, a Frenchman, prepared “potatoes served in the French manner” for a state dinner. The potatoes were “deep-fried while raw, in small cuttings.” French fries had arrived! By the early 20th century, the term “French fried,” meaning “deep fried,” was being used for other foods as well (onion rings and zucchini sticks, anyone?).

     

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    Season your fries with rosemary, thyme or other favorite herb. Photo courtesy Alexia.

     
    DIFFERENT TYPES OF FRENCH FRIES

    Our French Fries Glossary has 27 different types of French fries.

    You can make number 28, by creating your own signature French fry recipe. Here’s how.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Orange Is The New Salad

    Here’s a fun salad from chef Chef Todd Shoberg of Molina restaurant in Mill Valley, California. Just assemble these ingredients:

  • Romaine or greens of choice
  • Tangerine segments*
  • Shaved carrot†
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Dressing: olive oil and orange juice; or olive oil, vinegar and tangerine zest
  •  
    Additional Ingredients

    Keep the orange theme going with:

  • Orange cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Orange bell peppers
  • Mango
  • Sweet potatoes, roasted and sliced or diced
  •  

    feta-tangerine-burgundycarrot-molinarestaurantFB-230

    Add as much orange as you like. Photo courtesy Molina restaurant.

     
    And if you want to add some “old black” to the “new black,” garnish with black olives or grapes.

     
    *The Ojai Pixie tangerines are delicious right now. We got ours from Melissas.com.

    †Chef Todd used burgundy heirloom carrot (a burgundy skin and orange flesh), which adds another dimension of interest. Shave the carrots as thickly as you can, or use a knife.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Delicious Charred Vegetables

    Some recipes specify charring bell peppers to make it easy to remove their skins and purée them. But we char them just to enjoy the charred flavor.

    Charring is a step beyond simple grilling. If you haven’t discovered the joy of charring vegetables on the grill—or haven’t ventured beyond corn, mushrooms and potatoes—let us whet your appetite.

    Charring creates contrasting flavor and textures, caramelized sweetness, and toasty, smoky notes. When the skin gets blackened and blistery, the the flavor is intensified. The skins soften while the flesh stays crisp.

    You don’t need a grill (ideally, with wood chips) to char vegetables. You can also do it:

  • On the stove top, in a dry cast iron pan
  • Under the broiler in your oven
  •  
    All you need are raw vegetables tossed in olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt or coarse sea salt, and the heat source. Grilling tips are below.

    WHAT VEGETABLES ARE BEST FOR GRILLING

    Some of our favorite things to char—in addition to corn, mushrooms and potatoes:

  • Asparagus: Trim the tough ends, toss the spears in olive oil and salt and grill for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
  •    

    assorted-grilled-vegetables-happilyunprocessed-230r

    A delicious platter of grilled veggies, from HappilyUnprocessed.com, with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, yellow squash and bell peppers. Here’s their recipe for Balsamic Grilled Vegetables.

  • Baby potatoes: Potatoes, dense and hard, need to be pre-cooked. Leave the skins on and place the potatoes in a pot. Cover with one inch of salted cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and skewer (for a gourmet touch, skewer on soaked rosemary twigs) and grill for 3 to 4 minutes total, turning occasionally.
  • Bell peppers, Hatch or other chiles: Remove the core and seeds, then slice the each pepper in half (or in quarters for large bells). Toss with olive oil and salt and grill over a medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill 4-5 minutes longer.
  • Cabbage or lettuce: Cut the head in half and slice each half into 1-inch-thick slices; skewer to keep the leaves together. Toss with olive oil and salt. Grill over a medium-high heat for 10 minutes, then turn and grill for another 10 minutes. (If cabbage and lettuce seem like strange grilling veggies, try them—they’re delicious!)
  • Cauliflower: Use large florets only; save the smaller bits for other uses. Toss in olive oil, salt and skewer. Grill over medium-high heat, turning frequently for about 10 minutes, until lightly charred.
  • Corn: Remove the husks; otherwise, you just steam the corn. Oil and salt them, then grill over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, turning frequently.
  • Eggplant: Cut into 1/2-inch slices, place on a wire rack and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave for 30 minutes, then rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels (this process removes the bitterness). Toss with oil (you can add some balsamic, too), salt and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
  • Green onions/scallions: Toss in oil and salt and grill on medium-high for about two minutes, until distinct grill marks appear. Then turn and cook for 1 minute more.
  •  

    grilled-vegetables-mccormick-230

    Mixed grilled vegetables. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
  • Mushrooms: Toss whole mushrooms with olive oil and salt; then skewer and cook over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes, turning frequently. Grill whole portobello mushroom caps directly on the grill. Toss in oil (we also use some balsamic), salt and grill for four minutes; then turn and grill another four minutes.
  • Onions: Sweet and red onions are best. Peel, cut into ½-inch slices, toss in olive oil and kosher salt and grill over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then turn and grill 2-3 minutes longer. A skewer will hold the onion layers together.
  • Tomatoes: Skewer cherry tomatoes and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, turning frequently. Cut plum or other tomatoes in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and grill for four minutes over medium-high heat. Then turn and grill for four more minutes.
  • Zucchini or yellow squash: Cut into ½-inch pieces lengthwise, toss in olive oil, salt and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
  •  
    We also love grilled romaine, especially in a grilled Caesar salad.

     
    GRILLING TIPS

  • Heat. Most vegetables need a medium-high heat. With a gas grill, this is 400°F to 425°F. With a charcoal grill, think “4 by 5”: You should be able to hold your hand four to five inches above the grill for for four to five seconds. For delicate vegetables, use medium heat—350°F or hold your hand four to five inches above the grill for six or seven seconds.
  • Skewers. When grilling smaller vegetables that might fall through the grate, use skewers. They also make it easy to turn the vegetables. We use stainless steel skewers; but if you’re using bamboo, remember to soak them for 30 minutes.
  •  

    USING THE BROILER TO CHAR VEGETABLES

  • Set the broiler to HIGH. If the broiler is inside your oven, place the oven rack to within 4-5 inches of the broiler flame.
  • Since there are no grates to fall through, you don’t need to skewer.
  • Toss with olive oil and salt and spread the the vegetables on a sheet pan. Softer vegetables will cook faster than harder, denser ones like onions, so keep the individual vegetables together so you can remove them as they finish cooking.
  • Broil for five minutes, then turn and stir. Leave the oven/broiler door open during broiling to vent the steam.
  • Continue to broil and turn every five minutes. The vegetables will gradually start to char on the outside. All vegetables will be ready in 20-25 minutes, depending on how crunchy or soft you like them.

     
    NO OVEN OR BROILER?

    Use your toaster oven on the highest setting. It isn’t exactly the same, but the results are still delicious. Lightly brush the veggies with olive oil, or drizzle mushrooms with balsamic vinegar.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit In A Green Salad

    Enjoy the summer’s fruit bounty straight, in fruit salads, yogurt, pies, ice cream, smoothies and … green salad.

    Strawberries or watermelon salad plus greens and feta or goat cheese are time-honored additions to a green salad.

    But you can create your own recipe. For a July 4th salad, how about a red, white and blue green salad with raspberries, blueberries and diced applies? Instead of the apples, use feta or goat cheese for the white component.

    The salad in the photo, from Souplantation, combines:

  • Romaine
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Red onion
  • Caramelized walnuts
  • Raisins (you can substitute dried cherries or cranberries)
  • Sliced strawberries
  •  
    You can use a conventional vinaigrette recipe or a berry vinaigrette, adding a tablespoon of puréed berries to the recipe.

     

    strawberry-fields-salad-souplantation-230r

    Strawberry Fields forever? Well, for about 15 minutes until you’ve finished the salad. Photo courtesy Souplantation.

     
    For a creamy dressing, add a tablespoon of sour cream or Greek yogurt and combine in a blender.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Beer Batter Onion Rings

    onion-rings-horseradish-dipping-sauce-qvc-230

    Onion rings with horseradish-dill sauce
    instead of ketchup. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    Try something different for National Onion Rings Day, June 23rd.

    The standard condiment is ketchup, beer-battered onion rings are delicious with a horseradish dipping sauce. Here’s a recipe from QVC’s chef David Venable. It even bows to tradition by including some ketchup!

    What should you drink with Beer Batter Onion Rings? Your favorite beer! Ours is a hopped up IPA.

    RECIPE: BEER BATTER ONION RINGS WITH HORSERADISH DILL DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  •  

    For The Onion Rings

  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle of beer (12 ounces)
  • 3 large onions, preferably Vidalia, sliced into 1/4″ rings and separated
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the dipping sauce: Whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, paprika and dill in a small bowl. Set aside while cooking the onion rings.

    2. PREPARE the onion rings: Clip a deep-frying thermometer to the side of a heavy, deep pot. Add 2″ of canola oil to the pot and slowly heat the oil to 350°F. While the oil is heating…

    3. WHISK together the flour, egg, garlic powder, oregano, cayenne, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the beer, stirring until a thick batter forms.

    4. DREDGE the onion slices in the batter. Using tongs, add four or five onion rings to the hot oil and fry for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them halfway through cooking. (Cook the onion rings in batches or the oil won’t stay hot and the onion rings will be soggy rather than crisp.) Using the tongs, remove the fried onion rings to a wire rack or paper towels to drain.

    5. COOK the remaining batter-dipped onion rings. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

     

    vidalia-onions-vidaliaonions.com-230

    Vidalia onions: sweet with no sulfur bite. Photo courtesy VidaliaOnions.com.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Potato Salad With Bacon, Blue Cheese & Bacon Dressing

    bacon-dressing-potato-salad-blue-cheese-longhornsteakhouse-230

    Grilled potato salad with bacon, blue cheese and bacon dressing. Phoro courtesy LongHorn Steakhouse.

     

    Our crowd really enjoyed this potato salad with grilled fare on Father’s Day. It was created for grilling season by LongHorn Steakhouse’s executive chefs.

    RECIPE: GRILLED POTATO SALAD WITH BACON
    DRESSING

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 9 medium red potatoes, scrubbed, skins on
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
  •  
    For The Bacon Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • ¼ cup good blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 3 strips chopped bacon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. CLEAN and oil the grill grates, and heat to 500°F.

    2. ADD the potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Turn down the flame and continue to boil for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain the potatoes and allow the water to fully evaporate from the skin. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in half-inch pieces.

    3. DRIZZLE both sides of the potatoes with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

    4. PLACE the potatoes on the preheated grill to get the desired grill marks on both sides of the potatoes. Remove from the grill and place on a serving platter, with the slices overlapping shingle-style.

    5. COOK the bacon strips until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels; save the bacon fat.

    6. COMBINE all the dressing ingredients in a large mason jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until well combined. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and garnish with chopped bacon, blue cheese crumbles and sliced green onion.
     
    For more information about LongHorn Steakhouse or to find the nearest location, head to the company website, LongHornSteakhouse.com.

      

    Comments

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