One of the easiest ways to eat more vegetables is to stop thinking of them as a ‘side dish’ and start thinking of them as the main event. Whenever I’m planning meals for my husband and myself, my first question is always, “What vegetables do I have in the house?” – and then I build the meal from there.
Honestly, it is practically impossible to eat ‘too many’ vegetables – especially the leafy greens – so concentrate on filling your plate, your bowl, your body with veggies FIRST, and then worry about what to serve ‘on the side’.
Today’s recipe from Chef Scott shows a wonderful way to make veggies the star of the meal. It’s actually more of a METHOD than a recipe – but the possibilities for what you can do with these grilled veggies are endless. Mix’em in with some whole grain pasta, throw’em on top of a salad, chop’em up and eat’em straight from the bowl, layer’em on to a whole grain pizza crust. Be creative – and ENJOY!
Take it away, Chef Scott….
My name is Scott and I am a snackaholic. It is my burden and I completely own up to it. I can go through a bag of chips faster than you can say, “Ruffles.” And if they are covered in some sort of exotically flavored powder, I’m done for. Sweet Maui Onion, Wasabi and Mustard, or good old fashioned Sour Cream and Onion…I like salty snack treats that taste like other things.
As I have turned over a new leaf, I no longer buy those delicious (yet completely fat and sodium laden) treats. But, I still like to snack. So nowadays, I bust out my trusty grill pan and make some grilled and marinated veggies to snack on. I first encountered this method while working at Bari Ristorante e Enoteca in Memphis, TN. The process is a little time consuming but well worth the work. These bad lads are great on an antipasti plate, in a pannini, or thrown into a spinach salad, couscous, or a chilled pasta salad. Or just about anything!
Personally, I love making flatbread pizzas with them. Play around with different vegetables and herbs, like peppers, thinly sliced carrots, and spring onions.
Grilled and Marinated Zucchini and Eggplant
This is a method; you decide the quantity.
Garlic, thinly sliced
Basil, finely chopped (or oregano, mint, or parsley)
Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Using a mandolin, slice zucchini length wise in thin, ¼” strips. In batches, grill zucchini until grill marks just barely become visible through the side remaining up (about 3 minutes). Flip and grill for another minute. Set aside to cool.
In a flat container, create one even layer of vegetables. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a few slivers of garlic, a few capers, and basil. Drizzle with oil. Continue to layer until all of the vegetables have been treated. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the vegetables to marinate for at least 3 hours.
Repeat process with eggplant substituting oregano or mint for the basil.
The key to this is moderation. Don’t go too crazy!
I know this isn’t vegan, but it sure is tasty.
3 cups loosely packed basil
5 cloves garlic
¼ cup almonds
1 lemon, zest and juice
¼ cup parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast to make it vegan)
¾ cup olive oil
In a small food processor, combine garlic and almonds with a little bit of salt and whir away until they form a paste. Scrape down the sides and add basil, zest and juice. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese. Store in an airtight container with a layer of olive oil on top (this helps it retain its vibrant green color).
Make a Pannini!
Use your zucchini and eggplant, plus peppers and arugula with homemade pesto.
If you have a pannini press, schmear just a little bit of pesto on the bread and stack your veggies up for some sandwichy goodness. If you don’t have a pannini press, use your grill pan and weight down the sandwich with a cast iron skillet.