The char-lines are unmistakable; vibrant colors appear to jump off the plate; and the amazingly savory, smoky flavor makes mouths water … Yes, we’re talking grilled summer vegetables.
As the flavors and local harvests of summer are arriving, adding fresh, grilled vegetables to your restaurant’s seasonal summer selections should be part of your menu development plan and a way to keep guests interested in what’s new.
From artichokes to zucchini, and anything in between, adding grilled vegetables (alone or in yummy combinations) will give new life to pizzas, pastas, proteins, seafood, and salads. Another option is to finely chop or puree them into salsas, spreads, and gazpacho, or by layering grilled veggies on sandwiches or burgers, mixed in with fajitas, or simply by placing vibrant vegetables on fresh country bread, sliced ciabatta or a French baguette with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for a flavorful appetizer or side dish.
Here are some quick and easy tips to make the most of the season’s harvest:
- Keep it Simple. Since grilling enhances the natural flavors of vegetables, you don’t need much else to make them taste great. Bring out those flavors and maintain the nutritional value of eating fresh vegetables right from the grill by keeping seasonings and sauces to a minimum. Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt, fresh black pepper, and/or some fresh spices (rosemary, oregano, thyme, garlic cloves, etc.) and add a dash of olive oil and/or fresh lemon juice.
- Get Fired Up! Start with a clean, hot grill, then lay trimmed, sliced vegetables on grill for approx two minutes on each side (brushing lightly with olive oil if desired). Note: group vegetables together if also grilling meats, as you don’t want the flavors to meld at this stage of preparation. Once grilled to perfection, slice, chop, or puree grilled vegetables to add to the plate.
The ease, nutritional value, and delicious taste of grilled vegetables are great inspirations to experiment with the season’s freshest harvests.
The bottom line: invest in a good grill with either wood or charcoal for the flame, and your guests will be sure to thank you by returning again and again for your fresh, flavorful fare!