Posted by: thehungryrunner | July 23, 2008

Recipe of the Moment: 6 Ways with Grilled Vegetables!

Have you ever said, “One of these days, I’ll have to try that”?  Only you say it for at least a couple of years before you actually take the plunge and make good on that comment?  And when you finally do “try that,” your very first reaction is, “Oh wow, this is good!!! I only wish I’d tried it sooner!”  That, my friends, sums up my journey to Grilled Vegetables.  Being that we don’t do as much outdoor grilling as we’d like, I knew it would probably be a good idea to eventually invest in a grill pan, thus opening up the opportunity to “bring the outside in” and grill whenever the whim hits.  So I finally hunted down a nice, ridged grill pan from Target, did my Google search for a million grill recipes….and ultimately, set to work on the most simple one of all:  Pick veggies, wash veggies, thinly slice veggies, preheat pan on medium to medium-high heat, brush veggies with olive oil, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper (and, if desired, salt), set on grill, leave on grill until one side is showing sear marks, flip, grill other side the same way.  Serve, eat, yum.  Did I say “yum”?  I meant, “YUM”!

Okay, so I’d been living in a cave but now at least I finally pierced the veil into the world of grilled vegetables.  I proceeded to experiment with many specimens in the weeks and months that followed:  I grilled zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, sweet onion, carrots, tomato, eggplant (not my favorite), red pepper, yellow pepper, portobello mushrooms, broccoli….you get the idea.  The options seemed boundless!

But….it turns out the options weren’t boundless.  Good, yes, but…..come on, sooner or later you do become used to even your favorite dish if it doesn’t change at least a little bit!  So, I began to fidget with my food:  I experimented with ingredients in the basic grilled vegeable dish (turns out peanut sauce for grilled carrot isn’t half bad!), but soon found a similar stall-out.  I had to come up with something else.

Enter, my 6 Ways With Grilled Vegetables!  Yes, there are more than 6, but I have found these six to be the most tasty, easy, and useful.  Better yet, they often introduce other healthful foods, thus giving a more well-rounded meal in addition to the added taste adventure.  Enjoy!

6 Ways With Grilled Vegetables:

1:  Grilled Vegetable Sandwich on Toasted Multigrain Bread:  You don’t need anything besides, but a slice of low-fat cheese and/or a smear of gourmet mustard can add a delicious twist.  Protein boost:  add a grilled fat-free Boca Burger.

2:  Grilled Veggies on Couscous:  I love couscous, but the flavored kind (of which the parmesan is my favorite) is often high in sodium.  Add flavor without the high salt content by instead piling on some grilled veggies on top of a mound of plain couscous.  Option:  for added crunch and flavor, top with a handful of chopped almonds.  My favorite veggies for this:  grilled bell peppers, onions, and broccoli.  Tip:  To add a little more flavor to the couscous, cook the couscous in low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth instead of water.

3:  Grilled Veggie-Cottage Cheese Wrap:  Take grilled veggies (hot or cold), a scoop of cottage cheese (this is one time when you can use fat-free cottage cheese and not compromise taste/texture), and a low-carb tortilla.  Or, eliminate the tortilla and use a large leaf of lettuce instead.  Delicious!

4:  Grilled Veggie “Pasta” and Sauce:  Much better than it sounds!  Cut zucchini, yellow squash, sweet onion and portobello mushrooms into thin, long slices, and grill up until quite soft.  Serve in lieu of pasta with your favorite jarred pasta sauce (heat up in separate saucepan while the vegetables are cooking).

5:  Grilled Veggie Pita Pizza:  No sauce needed!  Grill up any veggies of your choosing, and while they’re cooking, place a whole-wheat pita that’s been brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano into the broiler.  Heat until toasted (keep an eye on it, it can burn easily).  Remove pita from the oven and reduce oven temp to about 400 degrees.  Top pita with grilled veggies and about 1/4 cup grated low-fat cheese (my favorite combo:  3 parts low-fat mozzarella, 1 part grated parmesan).  Place pita back into the oven on a cookie sheet, and bake until the cheese is bubbly.

6:  Grilled Veggie Risotto:  Saving my favorite until last!  This is a great way to give a “healthy” makeover to most risotto recipes.  Prepare risotto as usual, using low-fat (or fat-free) chicken broth, and use olive oil instead of butter.  While the risotto is cooking, grill up your veggies, then set aside once they’re cooked.  When the risotto is done absorbing the broth, remove it from the stove and stir in the grilled vegetables, along with whatever fresh herbs your might be using.  If you do add cheese, cut the amount as the grilled veggies will help bring a nice flavor already to the risotto.  Stir and serve for a nice change of texture in your risotto!

Buon appetito!

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