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Friday, August 12, 2011

Don't husk that corn (yet)! And other grilled vegetables.

Whether during your workweek, weekend, or vacation, grilled vegetables are a summer treat to be enjoyed into the crisp days of autumn. If the simple elegance of brown grill marks aren't enough to convince you, the ease of preparation- chop, whisk, brush, grill, serve- should be adequate reason to try your hand at cooking vegetables, including unlikely candidates such as sweet corn and Swiss chard, over the flames. Below is a classic combination of vinegar, oil, fresh herbs, and spices to try out during your next outdoor cooking adventure. Though I've given approximate measurements for ingredients, this recipe is quite flexible; I encourage you to experiment with the myriad flavors available this time of year in New England. If you've discovered a winning combination, share it with our farm friends on our Facebook page.

Grilled Summer Vegetable Dressi
ng
Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:
  • 1/4+ cup vinegar (apple cider or balsamic work well)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, minced (depending on preference)
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped fine (i.e. basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Grilling Veggies:


Slice summer vegetables, such as green onions, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers, in half, lengthwise; larger squashes and onions can be sliced again in halves or thirds, as seen fit. Whisk together all dressing ingredients; brush generously onto the vegetables. Grill dressed vegetables over medium to medium-high heat until tender, about 2-4 minutes; flip halfway through cooking. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired; serve hot or cold.

Grilling Sweet Corn


Carefully pull back husk leaves without detaching them from the stem; replace leaves so that the kernels are once again covered. Silk-side up, hold individual ears under cold running water for several seconds. Grill over medium-high heat for several minutes until husks are browned or blackened, turning throughout for even cooking. Remove husks and season as desired; serve hot.

Grilling Swiss Chard and Kale

Using either the dressing described above or simply a high-quality olive oil, brush or rub the oil onto the greens and sprinkle with salt; grill leaves over medium heat until wilted with crisp edges, about 1-2 minutes; turn greens halfway through cooking. Serve immediately.

Are grilled vegetables healthy?

There is some confusion about the healthfulness of grilling various foods. Rest assured, grilling is a safe and healthy method for cooking your favorite summer fruits and vegetables. Unlike meats, plants lack creatine, an organic acid found in muscle, that combines with sugars naturally present in flesh that form carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) when cooked at high temperatures. More HCAs are formed during grilling compared to other cooking methods due to the tendency to grill meats over high heat for long periods of time. Fat drippings on the grill also create carcinogenic compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that stick to food surfaces as they are cooked. Marinating meats, cooking at lower temperatures, and preventing flare-ups from fat drippings can greatly reduce your exposure to these potentially harmful compounds when grilling meat.


Rebekah

Images by Rebekah Carter (2011). Information on the healthfulness of grilled foods referenced from The Cancer Project, The Washington Post, and Consumer Reports.

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