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May, 2012

Fresh Off the Fire!

By Dennis Linden

One of the most enjoyable things about cooking is discovering that two, seemingly very different, ingredients can turn out to be a delightfully tasty combination after all!

It’s May! Break out those barbeques from their winter storage hideaways--the grilling season has arrived! While there are a few fresh produce favorites, like corn-on-the-cob and pineapple, that have become established traditions on the barby, most grills are reserved for fish, fowl, various meats and those famous crustaceans from Down Under. However, one of the most enjoyable things about cooking is discovering that two, seemingly very different, ingredients can turn out to be a delightfully tasty combination after all! With that concept in mind, here are two lists of unlikely suspects to consider next time you light up the grill. You can shake up that summertime menu with these quick and tasty preparations of fresh fruits and veggies roasted over glowing coals.


Grilled Romaine

Slice Romaine hearts in half length-wise and retain the root end to keep each of the 4 pieces together. Lightly brush with olive oil and put the lettuce cut-side down directly on the grill. Char till grill marks appear. Serve with favorite vinaigrette, dressing or simply olive oil-salt and a splash of lemon.

Grilled Jicama

Use a mandolin to make medium-thick slices. Brush both sides of the Jicama slices with a small amount of oil. Place them on a hot grill and cook about a minute per side. Remove from grill, sprinkle with a bit of lime juice and sea salt. Pair with a favorite brew!

Grilled Sno Peas
Sno Peas

Make a foil pocket for 4 cups of Sno Peas, a small handful of chopped cilantro, a sprinkling of olive oil, 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce, S & P to taste. Place medium-hot fire and grill for 8 minutes. No need to flip.

Grilled Radicchio

Cut Radicchio heads in halves or quarters, drizzle with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then wrap in bacon and sear on the barby… there is nothing more to say, except enjoy!

Grilled Long Stem Artichoke
Long Stem Artichoke

Separate stem from choke. Soak Artichoke halves and stem in lemon juice water for 30 minutes; then drop in a pot of boiling water, along with a handful of minced garlic, for 15 minutes. Drain. Make a basting sauce of lemon juice, olive oil and minced garlic. Coat the halves and grill for about 10 minutes; baste and turn frequently until tips begin to char. Serve with remaining basting sauce fortified with melted butter.

Grilled Eggplant Halves

Baste cut-side with canola oil and grill face-down until tender. Scoop the cooked Eggplant out of its skin and toss-mash with chopped shallots, olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Grilled Fennel

Remove stalks and cut Fennel Bulb into halves or quarters depending upon size. Toss sliced bulb in olive oil and grill until tender, about 15 minutes on each side. Remove from grill, drizzle with a little more olive oil, salt, some lemon juice and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Small bulbs are more tender than large bulbs.


Grilled Avocado

Baste Avocado halves with a mix of lime juice and olive oil; grill face down in shell until scored. Flip over and top each half with salsa and grated cheese or grilled whole cherry tomatoes and chopped raw onion. Grill for another 5 minutes.

Grilled Banana

Slice each banana in half length-wise, leaving the peel on. Grill for 2 minutes, open side down. Then flip over and top with a mix of chopped dark chocolate and crunched vanilla wafers or sprinkle with cinnamon-brown sugar, and then grill for another 5 minutes. DECADENCE award winner.

Grilled Peach Halves

Slice Peach in half, remove pit and brush with olive oil and then grill face-down until there are marks. Wonderful served plain; even better topped with brandy, liqueur, honey, fine ice cream or yogurt.

Grilled Raspberries

No, silly, not directly on the grill; in a foil pouch, grill Raspberries for 5-10 minutes depending upon the size of the packet. Then drizzle this smoky, thick, goo over a high-grade vanilla ice cream. Berry delicious!

Grilled Orange Honeydew
Orange Honeydew

Heat up a batch of honey, butter and cinnamon. Skewer cubed Orange Honeydew Melon pieces, brush with the honey mixture and grill for 2 minutes. Serve with ice cream, drizzling remaining honey mixture over all.

Grilled Honeybliss Melon
Honeybliss Melon

Combine a ¼ cup of lemon juice and 1 tsp. of powdered ginger in a large bowl. Add cubed Honeybliss Melon and let stand covered for 10 minutes at room temperature. Skewer, then grill 2 minutes on each side.

Grilled Figs

Cut Figs in half, stuff each cavity with goat or bleu cheese, drizzle each with a little olive oil and grill face up until cheese warms. O.K., maybe not so unusual, but the fig is my personal favorite grilling dessert and will always get my admittedly prejudicial honorable mention.

So, move over shrimp! Make room for some field-grown and orchard-picked goodness. Try your own favorite produce items on the grill; fish baskets and foil packets are the secret to those hard to handle fruits and veggies that are too small for the grate. Infusing a little smoky flavoring into almost any piece of fresh produce will add a new spark [pardon the pun] to the usual picnic fare. Plus, as science demands, this menu increase of summertime grilling items will create a very pleasing equal and opposite reaction -- a whole new collection of secret BBQ sauce blends! Happy Grilling!