Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grilled Vegetables vs. Roasted Vegetables

Lovin' the veggies!

The best way to eat them?  Seasonally.  If you eat what's in season your vegetables will be at their peak flavor, providing you with the best tasting dishes.  During the summer my favorite way to cook them is grilling.  We were grilling veggies all summer long, inside on the grill pan, and outdoors on the BBQ.  Some of my favorite summer veggies that repeatedly showed up in my house were:  Eggplant, Yellow Summer Squash, Zucchini, Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes, and Corn.

During the fall months and into the holidays I love to roast my veggies.  I love how roasting caramelizes them and brings that sweet wonderful flavor you can't find in other methods of cooking.  Some of my favorites are:  Acorn Squash, Beets, Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Celery Root, and Pumpkin. 

Let's talk about grilling.
Grilling is cooking over a direct heat source such as a fire or gas grill.  Grilling brings out vegetables natural sugars while infusing a smokiness   A key to grilling vegetables is to cook them briefly and simply on a hot indoor, or outdoor grill. 

 - Oil your vegetables for added flavor and to prevent sticking

 - A small grill pan or basket works well in grilling smaller vegetables that may fall through the rack.

 - Cook over medium-high to high heat for about 5-6 minutes per side, looking for some charred surfaces.

 - Good with a sprinkle of herbs or a citrus splash.  A light vinaigrette or sauces are also a good choice as a topping.

Here are some of my grilled summer veggies:

Let's talk about roasting.
Roasting is a dry-heat oven cooking method, using an open pan.  You can roast many items such as meat, fish, fruits and vegetables.  Roasting takes little prep work and once it is in the oven, it does all the work for you!  The high heat used in roasting allows the food sugars to form on the surface or carmelizing, and gives you that sweet flavor and brown crust, while the inside stays tender. 

 - Cook at a high temperature, usually 450 degrees, for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. You can toss or turn half way through the cooking cycle.

 - Vegetables are usually coated with  a little olive oil or melted butter to promote browning and keep them from drying out.  Season with salt & pepper or your favorite herb mixture for added flavors.

 - Use a roasting pan that is just large enough so that the vegetables are all lying flat and there is some space in-between.  Overcrowding will result in steaming instead.

Here are a combination of roasted yams, sweet potato, and pumpkin:


Kitchen tip #1:  Make sure to cut your vegetables in uniform sizes so that the food cooks evenly, and at the same rate.  Smaller pieces tend to cook best as they reduce the roasting time and allow for a deeper carmelization.

Kitchen tip #2:  when roasting pumpkin choose a small pumpkin which are sweeter and lend better to cooking.  Varieties to look out for are Sugar Pie, Baby Bear, or Cheese pumpkins.  The large ones don't cook very well.

Make sure to eat your veggies!!!

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