Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Strategic Grilling

I haven't posted a new recipe in awhile.  Sorry about that.  May has been a really busy month at Casa SMJ: I'm back to working part-time while momming full-time, we've been on the road or hosting guests every weekend, and I'm also the de facto part-time wedding planner for my little sister's upcoming nuptials.  Whew! In all, the hubs and I are both pretty slammed at the moment.  During times like these, I tend to fall back on a reliable stable of go to family recipes: pizza night, Tofu Tikka Masala or Thai Curry-style, and turkey tacos are in heavy rotation at the moment.  Another favorite of ours is anything simply marinated and grilled and served alongside a salad or veggie of some sort.  We've been grilling about twice a week, as cooking with fire is one of the husband's favorite ways to relax after a long day. 

At this time of year, when produce is becoming so abundant, fresh and inexpensive,  I love to put the grill on double duty, and douse as many veggies as possible in olive oil, salt and pepper to be grilled alongside whatever is on the menu for the evening.  I've mentioned this strategy before, but it definitely bears repeating as we roll into grilling season again.  A fridge full of perfectly grilled veggies is the working woman's weeknight dinner secret weapon.  Tossed with regular or Israeli couscous or cooked pasta, you have a whole-meal salad, or you can use them on sandwiches, in green salads or as a side for a quickly cooked protein.  Some of my current favorites:
Photo from Summer Foods
Corn is just coming into season, and it is so sweet and so cheap right now (39 cents an ear at Trader Joe's or 50 cents an ear at Whole Foods).  Grilling corn does things to it that simple boiling never could... the sugars caramelize, the ears become sticky-sweet, and it is altogether obscene.  Sliced off the cob, the grilled kernels take any salad up a notch, or are delicious sauteed quickly with a little butter.  There's just nothing that says summer like corn.
Cherry tomatoes have also been especially sweet and inexpensive lately (got a gigundo box of them for $2.99 at WF this week).  I love to skewer those little suckers and grill them quickly to perfection.
Tomato photos from The Kitchn
Toss them with some angel hair and torn basil and/or chopped fresh mozzarella and you have a restaurant-quality dinner in minutes.  Or mix them into Israeli couscous with feta and chopped mint for a great Mediterranean side.  They're also phenomenal as a topping for any simply grilled flaky white fish.
Photo from Veggie Belly
Finally, my old workhorses zuchinni and summer squash are always dirt cheap and reliable on the grill.  They're fabulous on their own as a side, or with almost any carb for a complete meal.  Or dare to make them the centerpiece of your dinner with a zesty rub and special sauce like the Chipotle-Lime Grilled Squash with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce pictured above.

Busy times call for dinner shortcuts, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on flavor or nutrition.
What's your favorite way to use grilled veggies?

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