Monday, January 09, 2006

Eat your greens! And your purples!

Last night's dinner was a standard meal in my household. Grilled chicken basil sausages (this part will change depending on the night) on buns with homemade aioli and tequila mustard with a side of grilled veggies, grilled eggplant wraps with feta, and grilled lemon-garlic artichokes. I LOVE grilled food. Especially grilled veggies.

My first side-dish, grilled lemon-garlic artichokes, was inspired by an appetizer at the Yardhouse. It took me a little while to figure out how to perfect the grilled artichoke. I use Trader Joe's medium-size chokes that come in a tray of four. I usually boil/steam it ahead of time for up to an hour after chopping off the stem and top of the choke; making sure to cut off any sharp edges. After they're done I cut them in half and scoop out the hairy choke. Then they're ready for whenever I want to grill.

When I'm ready to fire up the barbie I coat the chokes in olive oil (I always have a lifetime supple of ziploc bags) and get my basting sauce ready. One of my favorite kitchen tools is my silicone pastry brush which works great for desserts and bbq. My sauce is simple and could be varied depending on what ingredients you have in the house. I usually use a tablespoon or so of butter (or smart balance), a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (always e.v.o.o.), a healthy pour of lemon-pepper seasoning, and a large clove of garlic diced. After putting the halves of artichokes on the hot grill for a few minutes I started basting. The result is tremendous. They are so tender that you can usually eat the whole thing and each bite is filled with lemon and garlic flavor. Sometimes the artichokes get very crispy and slightly burnt (which is fine by me because only the outside leaves get burnt and the flavor is still incredible). This time my chokes didn't burn at all for some reason.

My second favorite grilled veggie dish is from Nigella Lawson (Forever Summer). I find that her recipes are not consistently good BUT they are always inspiring and sensual like Ms. Lawson herself. By far my favorite recipe of hers (that I've tried) is her grilled eggplant wraps with feta and mint. They are super easy to make but not always pretty.

It's simple: take a lovely looking eggplant and make thin vertical slices (down the long side of the eggplant). Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and grill. The time greatly depends on the grill but it doesn't take long at all (maybe a minute or two per side?). Sorry, a lot of my recipes are from my head. I rarely ever measure unless I'm baking or using a complicated recipe or new technique. In fact, I rarely follow recipes. I'm almost always using different ingredients or cooking times. So, when it comes to grilling--it's done by sensory experience. Does it smell done? Does it look done? Does it taste done? Then it's done!

After your slices are grilled, take your filling mixture (crumbled feta, diced chili or jalapeno, chopped mint, and fresh lemon juice) and put on one end of the slice. Roll up and enjoy! A couple of notes: 1) I love TJ's mediterranean feta which has herbs in it already and adds a much better flavor to almost any feta recipe 2)use fresh mint, of course 3) make sure all of the flavors are balanced: don't use too much mint or chili unless that's your thing and 4) you'll know how much lemon juice to add when the mixture is wet but not mushy.

Could I make this recipe more complicated? Hmm. Hopefully that translated o.k. from my ADD brain. Feel free to ask questions.

Well. Now I'm craving these eggplant wraps and there are no more. Sigh. I suppose food blogging is going to make me perpetually hungry.

1 comment:

Rorie said...

I'm seriously drooling over the eggplant wraps! They are beautiful! And I MUST get a silicone pastry brush ....