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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Weekend Round Up - Memorial Day Grilling

Welcome to our Memorial Day weekend round up! I've been looking forward to sharing some of the edible highlights of what was a lovely family gathering. Our barbecue, by my husband's special request (it was his birthday so he was running the show!), was anchored by a main course of Sausage and Peppers (my mom makes this dish and it's absolutely delicious). With the meat spoken for, I decided to take the opportunity to indulge my ever-growing vegetable obsession. I knew exactly where I would look for inspiration - to one of my favorite Italian chefs, in this case, Mario Batali.

Grilled Vegetable Salad, Italian Style, Photo: NK




I am always inspired by the way Italians treat vegetables. They just seem to have a knack for making them shine without overpowering their natural merits in any way. Batali's cookbookItalian Grill, is a perennial favorite in our house. We cook from it summer after summer, but I had yet to try his recipe for mixed vegetables on the grill enhanced with a bright, citrusy marinade.  

I hope you enjoy this colorfully eye-catching grilled platter of meatless delights. It makes a stunning presentation and an even better impression once you taste it. As Mario reminds us, choose vegetables that are in season, and feel free to mix and match based on what looks best to you! 

Mario Batali's Capri-Style Grilled Vegetable Platter 
Very slightly adapted from cookbook, Mario Batali's Italian Grill 

Serves 6
Prepping our veggie platter, Photo: NK

Ingredients: 
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin 
1 teaspoon dry Mustard
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes 
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 small Italian Eggplants, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds

Zest of one Orange, reserved. 

Juice of one Orange (optional Orange Rounds can be set aside for garnish)

1 large Yellow Pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into inch long slices 

12 Baby Zucchini, sliced half lengthwise or 4 small zucchini cut in quarters lengthwise

1 large or 2 small Red Onion, cut into wedges

1 small bunch Red Scallions, or regular Scallions (about 6-8), tops and bottoms trimmed

Small bunch very thin Asparagus, about 12-16 spears, tough ends cut off

Kosher Salt

12 large leaves of Basil, cut into think ribbons (chiffonade)

Method:
1. Place a large baking sheet on an outdoor grill and get it nice and hot (or indoors, use a grill pan or preferably a large smooth skillet atop two oven burners). 

2. Mix the marinade/vinaigrette! Combine Red Wine Vinegar, Garlic, Oregano, Cumin, Dry Mustard, Crushed Red Pepper, Olive Oil and the Orange Juice. Combine and set aside.  (Orange Zest will be reserved for garnish)

3. Brush Vegetables on both sides with the Vinaigrette and lay them on the baking sheets. You may need to grill in batches. Sprinkle the vegetables with Salt. Cook, turning once or twice, until just slightly charred. Keep an eye on the smaller veggies especially, as they may char quicker. Remove veggies as they are tender enough and cooked through.

Cook Times:
Eggplant will be 8-10 minutes, 
Yellow Pepper should be 10-12 minutes, 
Zucchini should take 6-8 minutes
Onions and Scallions should be about 4-6 minutes
Asparagus should grill for 5-7 minutes. 
Be sure to remove each vegetable as it is done.

To serve, arrange artfully on a large platter and sprinkle with extra Vinaigrette. Garnish with optional slices of Orange and sprinkle everywhere with Orange Zest. To finish, add your Basil ribbons and serve!! This is great warm or room temperature.
Caprese Salad with Nectarine & Buffalo Mozzarella, Photo: NK






Need a starter nibble?  Why not try my default plate of delectable Buffalo Mozzarella (or even Burrata--swoon!) with in season stone fruit (in this case, Nectarine) plus ribbons of Basil, and a drizzle of Olive Oil and Balsamic Reduction. To finish, just add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and you're good to go!








 
Now don't get me wrong, we do want to leave plenty of room for the meat on our barbie. Check out my mom's Sausage and Pepper masterpiece that we served along with my veggie platter. It was so good!


Sausage & Peppers by my mama, Photo: NK


Finally, a barbecue just ain't a barbeque without a refreshing cocktail to wash everything down. That's why we are declaring Paloma time! Learn a bit more about about the Paloma HERE. Now you may have noticed I am on a bit of a Grapefruit jag, so Palomas made with gorgeous, fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit seemed like a great idea. We serve ours Margarita-style with a salt rim. I am even gonna go out on a a limb and call it our official drink of summer 2014.  Here's the how-to below (to make it virgin, replace Tequila with Seltzer water in equal parts). 

Paloma-rita! Photo: NK

Paloma-Rita
Adapted from Drink Of The Week
Makes 1 Drink

Ingredients: 
2 Ounces of Tequila 
1 Ounce Lime Juice 
3 Ice Cubes
4.5 Ounces of fresh squeezed Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
1 teaspoon Simple Syrup (make a batch in advance and store in fridge - learn how HERE
Kosher Salt/Coarse Salt
Lime Wedges

Method: 
Rim each glass with a Lime Wedge to moisten.
Pour Kosher Salt into a flat plate and invert the glass over it to create a salt rim. In a shaker, place a few cubes of ice, Tequila, Grapefruit Juice, Lime Juice and Simple Syrup. Give it a good shake and pour it into Margarita Glass. Garnish with Lime Wedge and serve.

There you have it, folks. A successful holiday barbecue for the books. We hope it'll help gain some inspiration for your next summer feast!

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