Before you put away your grills for the summer, you have to try these very simple but delicious verdure alla griglia (Grilled Vegetables). The combination of a few very simple ingredients helps bring out the flavors of the vegetables, leaving even the pickiest of eaters wanting more.
Verdura alla griglia (grilled vegetables)
For this particular meal we chose to use melanzane (eggplant) and zucchine (zuccini). You can use a number of different vegetables that will all come out terrific on the grill.
>Begin by slicing the vegetables in thin strips. I don’t have a mandolin here but that would have made it much easier!
Slice thin, but not paper thin – roughly a 1/4 inch. It has to withstand the heat of the grill
>Next, place vegetables on the hot grill. The seasoning comes later. This was foreign to both Greg and me because we had grown accustomed to brushing olive oil and seasoning on before we grilled the vegetables. In this case, don’t apply anything – just put them on the grill naked.
Place on the grill without any prior treatment or coating
If you are lucky like me, you’ll have a good-looking crew working the grill!
For some reason, Greg always grills better with a beer
But this is his real secret weapon!
Greg was careful to brown each side to get that wonderful charred flavor without burning the vegetables.
Brown each side and be sure to cook all the way through – grill marks add a nice appearance
>The final step is adding the seasoning, a combination of olive oil, salt, minced garlic and a dash peperoncino (dried, spicy red peppers). >Combine minced garlic and olive oil in a bowl. Brush on the garlic-oil and add salt to taste.
>At the end, add a dash of peperoncino for a kick of flavor. Remember to be careful when you add the heat. You can always add more but you can’t take it away. I make a separate dish for Julia without the hot peppers.
Olive oil, garlic, salt and hot peppers
Olive oil mixture
Brush on to evenly disburse the oil
If the vegetables sit they will continue to develop flavors. They don’t have to be served hot. This is a great side because you can prepare it ahead of time before your guests even arrive.
I hope you will give these a try the next time you and your family decide to pull out the grill. Word to the wise, if you’re using a charcoal grill (like we do) – be sure to give yourself plenty of time to heat the coals, grill and then cook the vegetables. You’ll probably need a two hour total head-start before you plan on cooking your meat.
From Greg’s Grill
Greg here – just quickly chiming in. Since I am a carnivore and would never eat just vegetables (I’d compare that to watching watching “Sleepless in Seattle” without immediately following it up by watching a football game – just to even the scales), I suggest pairing your tasty vegetables with any delicious grilled meat… without heavy sauces. Chicken would work quite nicely, but without the BBQ sauce (in which case, you’re better off pairing it with a pickled slaw). In that same vein, I’d suggest you try grilling ribs (pork or beef – we prefer pork) but with a slightly different twist. Try grilling it the Italian way – you may be pleasantly surprised.
The process is simple – high heat, grill for a few minutes, searing on each side. Remove from grill and serve. But here’s the kicker. No marinade. No sauces. No seasoning (not even salt). Like the vegetables above, place the ribs on the grill as naked as Miley Cyrus when she twerks. When they are fully cooked, remove from the grill and then liberally add salt. The salt will bind and enhance the natural flavors of the meat, leaving your tongue free to enjoy the flavor as it was intended. I learned long ago that Italians prefer fewer flavors and hardly ever mask food with heavy sauces. We have lovingly grown accustomed to these types of ribs over the summer, but admittedly – I did just smuggle some Texas BBQ dry rub back from the US… just to do a taste test. I’ll be sure to let you know which way reigns supreme.
Get good, meaty ribs from your butcher (we prefer pork – beef has nice flavor, but less meat)
Grill and simply add salt (the rosemary was sprinkled for presentation and aromatics)