by Chef Jamie McFadden, Cuisiniers Catered Cuisine
‘Tis the season to fire up the grill! And in 2021, grilling is for everyone – not just men. While it can seem intimidating at first, after a bit of practice and a sprinkle of patience, grilling is actually quite simple and very enjoyable – deliciously enjoyable!
When barbecuing we often gravitate our thoughts and menus toward meat preparation. But what about vegetables? Zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and even romaine lettuce hearts are fantastic on the grill and the perfect accompaniment to whatever is for lunch or dinner. And don’t forget about watermelon slices and grilled lemons.
When prepping vegetables, such as zucchini or eggplant, to be grilled attempt to slice on a bias or “top to bottom” in medium thickness planks. I toss my raw vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, roasted garlic and chopped thyme. Simply grill over direct heat for four to six minutes on each side, or until the texture is right for you. Keep a spray bottle of water handy to avoid flair-ups and over-charring the vegetables.
Once you’re finished grilling your vegetables, layer on flavor with a homemade sauce or condiment. Freshly prepared pesto, romesco or even a garlic aioli drizzled over the top adds a delicious element and flavor enhancer. Also, remember those grilled lemons I mentioned earlier — now squeeze those over your vegetables. The lemon adds a bit of acidity and charred sweetness all at the same time.
Next to vegetables, fish is my other favorite thing to grill. My friends will tell you it’s often salmon at my house, but of course, tuna, wahoo, swordfish and any fish that has a meatier texture will grill up beautifully. Remember to always err on the side of undercooking, especially with fish. You can always place the food item back on the grill to cook to a more desired temperature. Many proteins, fish included, continue to cook internally for up to three minutes after being removed from the fire, so keep that in mind when mastering this technique.
Showcase your new grilling skills with this delicious treat. Toss some whole scallions with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then place them on a hot grill for 3-5 minutes. They’ll soften and char making them the perfect partner for that grilled vegetable platter or fish entrée.(cut this paragraph if you need more room)
Along with the above technique suggestions, I hope you will give the following recipes a go. And remember, grilling is a fun, interactive, and a delicious cooking alternative.
This delicious combination is the perfect sauce for grilled vegetables or fish.
5 whole eggs
1 cup blended oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup white truffle oil
1 tablespoon each cracked black pepper and kosher salt
1 cup frozen/defrosted or precooked green fava beans
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
In the bowl of a food processor, crack the eggs. Secure lid and begin to spin the eggs. In a very steady and slow stream add in the blended oil and watch as eggs become creamy. As the mix continues to spin slowly add in the white truffle oil, followed by the fava beans, salt, pepper, lemon juice and garlic. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Remove aioli from processor bowl and serve immediately or place in a container with a tight fitting lid for up to three days.
Curried Cauliflower Satays with Peanut Sauce
Makes 10 skewers
2 heads cauliflower broken down into 20 large florets.
Place 2 florets each on pre-water-soaked skewers and place in a microwaveable shallow pan with about 1/2 inch of water in the pan. Cook in microwave 3 minutes and then immediately place in refrigerator to chill. When chilled, place the following over the cauliflower and marinate 30 minutes.
For the Marinade:
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Combine all of the above ingredients in a vita prep or hand whisk in a medium bowl. Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week.
Prepare your grill and when it has reached 500 degrees place cauliflower skewers on the grill for 5-7 minutes. Remove and serve immediately with the peanut sauce.
Achiote is the saffron substitute of Mexico. Achiote (annatto) seeds have a punchy aroma and a vibrant rusty color that is more red than orange. This is a delightful marinade for large shrimp to be grilled.
2 tablespoons Achiote seeds/annatto
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons dry oregano
3 each whole peeled garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons orange juice
Place the dry whole spices into a mortar and crush with a pestle until a fine powder is reached. Add the other spices and grind again. Add the whole garlic and orange juice and make into a paste. Store in a covered container up to three days.
Many shrub recipes call to cook the fruit in syrup which creates a jammy fruit flavor. This simple cold process preserves that bright, fresh-off-the-vine taste and screams of summer. When it’s time to mix up and serve the shrub, lay a couple stems of fresh rosemary on a prepared grill for up to one minute, using caution to not burn. Immediately place one stem each in your shrub cocktail. The flavor is incredible.
5 cups blackberries, rinsed
4 cups granulated sugar
4 cups red wine vinegar
In a large mixing bowl, combine blackberries and sugar. You don’t have to intentionally smush any of the berries, but the act of mixing will produce some juice which will help the sugar to coat the berries. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
After a day, the berries and sugar will have created a jam-looking slurry. Strain the berries out of the syrup, gently pressing any excess liquid from them. Add the vinegar to the berry syrup and whisk until most of the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a clean glass bottle and place in a cool dark place (or refrigerate) for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, the sharpness of the vinegar will have mellowed considerably and married with the flavor of the fresh fruit. You can serve mixed with soda water for a refreshing sipper, but I highly suggest mixing in a shot or two of either rum, vodka or vermouth.