Inevitably, when I hear the word “grilling,” my first thoughts are always of what meat I’ll be using. This week I want to change the pace up and give you a simple, but delicious, grilled vegetarian dinner.
We all know how grilling meat enhances the flavor. What’s good for the meat is great for the vegetables. Grilling vegetables will bring out more flavors. We are into late July, which means there are a ton of different vegetables hitting the farmers’ markets. The days are long and hot and most of us don’t want to be spending a lot of time prepping and cooking. We try to find lighter meals because, let’s face it, it’s just too hot and there is too much going on to get bogged down with dinner. This particular meal can be cooked entirely on the grill, depending on how big your grill is and on how many people you’re cooking for. Use the grill to boil water to cook pasta and eliminate running to the kitchen.
“Unlike meats that need to marinade for at least an hour,
vegetables can be ready to cook as fast as you can cut them.”
Unlike meats that need to marinade for at least an hour, vegetables can be ready to cook as fast as you can cut them. A few minutes after brushing on flavored vinegar and oil with a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs and seasoning, they’re ready to grill. Also, vegetables cook fast; flip them once and they’re done.
As for the pasta, since this will be a fairly light meal, use a fresh angel hair. It cooks quickly. There is also no heavy tomato or cream sauce. Break out your best extra virgin olive oil and simply use a light drizzle over the top to finish off the dish before serving. Pick the veggies you like the best. Here is one group to use as your guide. Enjoy.
Grilled Vegetable Pasta
1 lb. angel hair pasta
1 zucchini, cut at an angle in 8, 1/2-inch-thick pieces
1 yellow squash, cut at an angle in 8, 1/2-inch-thick pieces
1 portabella mushrooms, cut into 8 slices
2 leaks, rinsed well, only the white section, cut in half lengthwise, blanched
16 green beans
8 baby carrots
¼ eggplant, 4 slices ½-inch thick
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly
¼ sprig of rosemary leaves, chopped fine
Balsamic vinegar, for brushing
Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing over fresh veggies and over finished plates
¼ ounce Parmesan, shaved
Salt and pepper
Blanch leaks before grilling. Lightly salt the pasta water and bring to a boil. Brush the vegetables with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, rosemary and basil. Save some basil and rosemary to toss with the pasta.
Let the veggies sit for a few minutes to marinade. Grill off the veggies starting with the harder ones, such as the carrots, asparagus and beans. Remove them to a pan on the side of the grill to keep warm. Grill off the rest of the veggies.
As soon as they are flipped, drop the pasta in the boiling water. Remove the rest of the veggies to the pan and strain the pasta. Toss the pasta with a few drops of oil, some basil and rosemary, salt and pepper to taste.
Use a roasting fork to roll up the pasta and slide onto the plates. Arrange the grilled vegetables around the pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan. Finish it off with a light drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with torn basil leaves if desired.
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. To read archived copies of Smitty’s column, visit chefsmitty.com or TheTahoeWeekly.com. Contact him at [email protected] or (530) 412-3598.