My attention this week was focused on making a (very rich and filling) birthday cake for Chris, so I went into this tailgate intending to keep things simple. When it comes to vegetarian grilling, there are few meals simpler than kabobs. Well, maybe frozen veggie burgers, but I'm trying to avoid those until I'm desperately scrambling on the day of some unbearably hot home game. Oh, to imagine the possibility of a hot day at Gillette...
Instead we got more chilly rain.
Bean's keys to the game (of grilling good vegetable kabobs):
- Fresh vegetables
- A good marinade
- Proper arrangement of the veggies on their skewers
Number two is easier than you'd think. Truthfully, the marinade I made was nothing special. I'm not saying it wasn't tasty. It was just a run-of-the-mill garlicky-lemony-dijony mixture I made a night before the game and refrigerated. You can probably make a marinade right now from ingredients you have on hand in your kitchen. As long as you blend an acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice) with oil, salt, and seasonings, you'll have a marinade. You can substitute any herbs, mustards, oils, and spices you like to shape your flavor (case and point: Steph's Thai Peanut Marinade). I tossed together a quick mixture based loosely on this this Food Network recipe. I upped the oil, downplayed the lemon, and more than doubled the garlic and herbs called for in the original recipe. In haste, I also accidentally spilled a fistful of whole black peppercorns into the mixture. My apologies to Joe Butler, who bit into one of these rogue peppercorns...
Number three is essential. Like me, you are probably accustomed to arranging colorful vegetable chunks of all different sizes vertically on a skewer. Don't do that! If you want your veggies to cook evenly, cut them into thick, even slices and thread them onto the skewers so the cut sides lie flat on the grate. This will help them to cook evenly. Knowing that some types of veggies cook faster than others, I even arranged the skewers so each had only one type of vegetable. Oh yeah, and don't forget to soak your skewers in water before using them! Otherwise you'll enjoy putting out a few skewer fires.
Simple Garlic and Herb Marinade
Adapted (loosely) from Food Network
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup water (or white wine!)
3 tablespoons honey
6 cloves minced garlic
1 handful chopped fresh basil leaves
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
2. cover and refrigerate
3. About 2 hours* before grilling, place chopped vegetables in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade over them. Seal bag and shake gently to evenly coat.
*Word to the wise: You want your veggies to absorb the flavor of the marinade, so give them at least 45 minutes to marinate. BUT, don't leave them too long. After 2 hours, the veggies may start to break down and become mushy.