Turn the carnivores into vegetarians

Turn the carnivores into vegetarians

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  1. Meat-like

    Grilled vegetables never fail to make people happy. Even hardcore carnivores who won’t allow any non-animal food product to cross their lips will eat grilled vegetables. Apparently, a grilled vegetable is a very meat-like bit of plant matter.

    Blistering

    To realize grilled vegetable success, start with good vegetables. You want vegetables that are good in and of themselves in addition to possessing the qualities that make them good candidates for being blistered over glowing hot coals. In my mind, the most prime vegetables for searing over an open fire are mushrooms, bell peppers and onions. If you like summer squash, it is good too, as is eggplant and zucchini.

    Ought nots

    Some vegetables don’t work so well. Carrots rarely produce a result I like. Asparagus can be okay over a fire, but steaming seems to be better for the asparagus. Broccoli ought not to be grilled. And cauliflower should never get too close to the grill. However, if you were to blanche these ungrillables in boiling water, pull them from the water and cool them in cold water, and then marinate them and put them on the grill until they are hot, it would be fine. By blanche I mean just barely get the vegetables cooked. Just get them to the point where they become tender.

    Very simple, very easy

    Sticking with the peppers, mushrooms and onions will be very simple and very easy. For color purposes it is nice to have all three colors of pepper, but if the price of the red and yellow is a bit shocking, straight green is perfect. As for the onions, red onions work as well as yellow which work as well as white. The regular little white button mushrooms are quite tasty, and you can also use a giant porcini or two if you’d like.

    Lead the veggies to salvation

    You want pieces of vegetable big enough to keep them from slipping through the grate to a fiery death. The peppers should be cut lengthwise. Hold the peppers stem up and cut straight down so that slabs of pepper are the result. In general, you should get four slabs per pepper. Cut the onions, after peeling them, into thick slices at least a half inch thick. The button mushrooms you can just rinse and the porcinis you can leave whole.

    Soak in oil and acid

    Soak the cut vegetables in a marinade. You may make a marinade or just use bottled Italian salad dressing. The marinade will contain oil (olive oil is good), acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and some herbs and seasoning. I go with a rough one to one ratio of oil to acid, a healthy amount of garlic, half a teaspoon or so of dried basil, thyme and oregano and some salt and pepper. It’s better to put too much herbs and seasoning than too little. Let it all soak together for as long as possible.

    Fear not too hot

    Fear not a fire too hot. The thing that makes peppers, onions and mushrooms good candidates for grilling is that they do not burn too readily and when they do burn, it is only a little and that little bit of burn makes them even more delicious. Turn the gas on full or add a few more bricks of charcoal. Once you cannot hold your hand over the fire for more than two or three seconds, you are ready to cook the veggies.

    Burned black?

    Put the vegetables on the grill. Let them cook. Resist playing with the vegetables. Allow them to rest over the fire. If you are worried that they are getting too hot, pour a little marinade over them. After a few minutes, check a pepper. Is it burned black in isolated spots? If so, turn it over. If not put it back to resume burning. As the vegetables begin losing their raw stiffness, turn them over. Everything will begin to have a cooked feeling. The veggies will be charred a little and have a soft, tender feeling. Once this state is achieved, pull the vegetables off the fire. They are cooked. Platter them, put them on the table and let them disappear.

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