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Wednesday
Jul212010

Meat Takes a Backseat on the Grill: Try Veggies and Fruit 

I’m excited to introduce another Go West Young Mom guest columnist, and this writer is especially dear to my heart. She is my best friend Maria Balice, who also happens to be the best cook I know. The two years I lived with Maria in Lincoln Park after college were the most memorable, gastronomically-speaking, of my life. The great thing about Maria is that while she has been known to spend a whole day creating an amazing multi-course meal, she can also just whip something up in a few minutes based on whatever she has in her refrigerator or pantry. Here Maria tells you why you should be using the grill for more than burgers and steaks this summer.

Grilling is such an easy way to get dinner on the table, but meat is usually the star. However, with fresh zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and all sorts of yummy vegetables bursting on the scene in either farmer’s markets or your own backyard, the grill is a simple way to bring out the flavor of fresh vegetables and, yes, even fruit. 
 
Almost any summer vegetable just needs a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper before it goes straight onto the grill.  Grilled tomatoes make a fabulous accompaniment to a burger or a steak.  And if you’re worried about veggies falling through the grate, forget about those fancy grill baskets.  All you need is a disposable aluminum cake pan – 13 inches by 9 inches (you can find them in the household items section of the grocery store or any dollar store). Plop in your vegetables, olive oil, salt and pepper and put the pan right on the grill rack over high heat.  Use some tongs to mix the veggies every few minutes and in about 10  to 15, you’ll have veggies everyone in the family will love.
 
Some combos that work well together (don’t forget the olive oil and salt and pepper):
  • Asparagus, mushrooms and shallots
  • Zucchini, eggplant and onions or garlic
  • Peppers, kohlrabi and garlic
If you want to get fancy, throw in some fresh herbs like rosemary, oregano or chives.
 
And don’t forget the fruit – that’s right fruit.  You’ll be amazed how a halved peach or nectarine tastes after it spends a minute or two on the grill (put some canola oil on the grate so it doesn’t stick).  The heat brings out the fruit’s juice and caramelizes it.  Add some grilled fruit onto a store-bought pound cake or angel food cake and your family will think they’re eating at a fancy restaurant.
 
Maria Balice is a public relations consultant who lives in Elmhurst with her husband and two adventurous-eating sons (well, sometimes.) Maria started cooking at age 10 under the tutelage of the best chef she knows, her Italian mom.

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for the tips, Maria! I can't wait to try some grilled peaches!

July 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterangela

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