Cooking Summer Vegetables
Did you know that grilling vegetables contains no carcinogens, and grilling vegetables does not eliminate all of the nutrients?
by Laurie Richardone
Dining alfresco is one of the great pleasures of summertime and it instantly transforms an
ordinary meal into something special.
In summer the farmers markets are overflowing with the season’s harvest, and we have an overabundance of vegetables that give us a plethora of possibilities. One of my favorite outdoor techniques to make vegetables shine is to grill them, it brings an extra layer of deliciousness to ingredients.
Grilling also brings people together, gathering around the grill waiting to catch a whiff of the intoxicating aroma that we might not achieve cooking indoors. It is a magical way to add that smoky flavor, and get those crispy edges we love so much in food.
Did you know that grilling vegetables contains no carcinogens, and grilling vegetables does not eliminate all of the nutrients. Yes, all forms of cooking can diminish some of the nutrients.
But the flip side is that some nutrients actually become more bioavailable when vegetables are cooked, since cooking helps release the nutrients from the cell walls of the plant. The carbohydrates in the veggies caramelize, mellowing out strong flavors into golden, toasty perfection!
Don’t be afraid to give a bit of charr to your vegetables, they are more hardy than you think. Vegetables can take a bit more heat, and color on vegetables equals flavor. The deeper we get that color, the more flavor you will have.
I offer a simple method for maximum flavor; grill the vegetables on the grill to infuse them with that smokey earthy flavor.
Even if you live in a more urban environment, you can get a small hibachi grill for your terrace, and grill some summer vegetables. This method starts to build simple, but flavorful dishes. Brush them with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and viola!
Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables to put on an open fire. You can find the small ones at our very own North Asheville Tailgate Farmers Market, and they make a beautiful presentation when grilled whole.
To get them crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, you might want to cover it with some foil as it’s grilling to prevent it from charring too much before the interior becomes tender.
Personally, I like my vegetables al dente (firm), to keep some crunch for texture in a dish; in addition to holding some of the beneficial nutrients. If you are going to be adventurous and grill a whole cauliflower, it does take about 45 minutes, but so worth the time.
It’s inactive time, so you can set a timer and take care of another dish. Another great way to grill cauliflower is to cut thick slices, then grill them.
If you want to take vegetables to the next level, make what I call my magic dressing. It can go on just about any veggie to elevate the simplest of ingredients, and it stores in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
The full recipe is on my website LaurieRichardone.com.
Wishing you a flavorful Summer ~ Laurie
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Listen to the latest episode ~ Ideas For Cooking Summer Vegetables
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