What’s Cooking: Put it all on the grill

06/04/2014 12:00 AM

05/30/2014 3:50 PM

If you can’t imagine why I would be so excited to finally have space for a grill again, you haven’t (yet) learned the pleasures of grilled cabbage, asparagus, mushrooms, chili peppers and more.

I grill for the same reasons meat eaters do: I love the flavors that result, and I love cooking outside, especially when the weather’s too hot to turn on the oven inside. Of course, it’s also relatively easy – although vegetables usually need as much prep as meats do, if not a little more.

Take bok choy. Like its cousins cabbage and cauliflower, it tastes best when it loses extra water and caramelizes. But it’s really two vegetables in one, and to make it shine on the grill, you need to separate the crisp stalks from the tender leaves. I learned that from Laura B. Russell’s excellent new book “Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables” (Ten Speed Press, 2014). She cuts the leaves away from the stalks of baby bok choy, halves the stalks lengthwise, rubs them with a miso butter and grills them until browned. While still warm, they reunite with the shredded leaves on a serving plate, helping – along with lemon juice and oil – to barely wilt the leaves.

A little vegetable butchery can go a long way.

But don’t stop at veggies, either. Fruit and – would you believe – chocolate also go great on the grill. See recipes below.

RECIPES

Grilled pineapple sundaes with brown sugar-rum sauce

Serves 6

Here’s a recipe well suited to the baking-phobic among us. Just about anyone who has grilled a steak and made a butter sauce can master this.

The sauce is a riff on the traditional bananas Foster sauce. It’s a little leaner, and some fresh orange juice adds a pleasant hint of acid.

It’s nice to show off the sundaes in 8-ounce parfait glasses, but any dessert bowls of similar volume will work.

Make ahead: The pineapple can be grilled up to a day in advance; refrigerate until ready to serve. You could also pre-scoop the yogurt to make assembly at the last minute even easier.

From Washington Post columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.

INGREDIENTS

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into generous 1/4-inch thick rings (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds trimmed and sliced)

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup dark rum

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Six 1 to 1 1/2 ounce scoops nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the grill for direct heat: If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (400 degrees) with the lid closed. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly over the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 to 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush the grill grate.

Arrange the pineapple slices on the grill. Close the lid and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the pineapple has nice brown grill marks. Use a spatula to loosen and flip the pineapple slices over. For a gas grill, close the lid and reduce the heat to medium; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or as needed for the slices to get good grill marks and heat through. For a charcoal grill, cook uncovered in the same manner.

Transfer to a platter; once the pineapple slices are cool enough to handle, cut each one into 1/2-inch-wide pieces.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, rum, orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, whisking, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium; cook for 3 minutes or until slightly reduced. Keep a close eye on the sauce; if it gets too hot it might boil over. Remove from the heat; add the pineapple, stirring to coat evenly.

Divide the pineapple pieces and sauce among individual serving dishes. Top each portion with a scoop of the frozen yogurt. Serve right away.

Per serving: 250 calories, 2 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 39 g sugar

__________

Grilled baby bok choy with miso butter

Serves 4

Be sure to keep the temperature moderate so the miso butter will caramelize but not burn. A grill screen placed on the grill grate will help corral the bok choy stalks.

White or yellow miso is recommended here; the darker the miso, the saltier it will be.

Adapted from “Brassicas – Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables,” by Laura B. Russell (Ten Speed Press).

INGREDIENTS

6 heads (about 1 1/2 pounds total) baby bok choy (may substitute Shanghai bok choy)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste (see headnote)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the grill for direct heat: If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (400 degrees) with the lid closed. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly over the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 to 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush the grill grate.

Meanwhile, cut the leaves off the bok choy stalks, then cut the stalks in half lengthwise. Rinse leaves and stalks well, then shake and pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible. Place the stalks in a large bowl.

Use a fork to blend the butter and miso in a small bowl, then use your clean hands to coat the bok choy (all over) with the butter-miso mixture.

Arrange the bok choy stalks cut side down on the grill (or grill screen, if using). Close the lid and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown on the underside. Use tongs to turn over the stalks. Close the lid and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until golden and crisp-tender.

While the stalks are on the grill, stack the bok choy leaves, then roll them tightly and cut them crosswise into thin ribbons (chiffonade). Arrange them on a serving platter as a bed for the stalks. Drizzle with the oil and lemon juice, then sprinkle with the salt and the 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

Arrange the grilled bok choy stalks on the dressed leaves, which will wilt a bit. Season stalks lightly with pepper. Serve right away.

Per serving: 180 calories, 4 g protein, 8 g carb., 16 g fat (7 g sat.), 25 mg chol., 610 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar

__________

Grilled chocolate and marmalade sandwich

Serves 1

The melted chocolate blends with the marmalade and it all mixes with the unmistakably toasty flavor of grilled bread. It is so good, you just might want to skip the meat and the vegetables altogether. Recipe by Daniel Neman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

INGREDIENTS

2 slices white bread

1 ounce chocolate

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1/2 tablespoon butter, melted

INSTRUCTIONS

Place chocolate on 1 slice of bread, covering as much of the bread as you can. You may have to break or chop the chocolate to do so. Spread the marmalade on the other slice, and put the slices together as a sandwich. Brush melted butter on both sides of the sandwich.

Place on a medium hot grill and cook until both pieces of bread are toasted and have grill marks and the chocolate is melted, turning once. Covering the grill will help it cook faster.

Per sandwich: 415 calories; 16g fat (4g sat.); 15mg chol.; 5g protein; 65g carb.; 40g sugar; 3g fiber; 220mg sodium; 130mg calcium.

Entertainment Videos

 

Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service