Friday, July 5, 2013

Grilling from the Garden

And remember that monotonous work – weeding the garden, sorting beans – allows the brain time to contemplate, question, and be in awe.
~ David Bradshaw

Meals just don’t get much better in the summer and fall than those of grilled just-picked vegetables.

Our weather here has gone from a long wet and cool spring to hot and dry almost overnight which means an abrupt end to a long and delicious snap pea crop.
Normally I grow ‘Cascadia’ snap peas which are an edible pod pea meaning you eat the whole thing, no shelling. If you do shell the peas you lose the sweetest part. These peas are best if left on the vine long enough to make a fat, juicy pod. My favorite way to eat them is to toss the freshly picked peas in some olive oil and spices and put them right into my preheated grill basket with other veggies.

Last year I discovered this grilling basket.  It is made of stainless steel without non-stick coating and the sides are high enough so when stirring and turning the veggies don’t jump out over the sides. I find it best to toss the raw veggies in a bowl with olive oil and spices while the basket is heating up on the grill rather than oiling the basket directly. Tossing the oiled veggies into the hot basket is less messy and I don’t have any problem with food sticking. I use this basket for quick cooking veggies like zucchini, snap peas, asparagus, chopped kale leaves, mushrooms, and chopped tomato. Toss on a few oiled, raw, shelled and cleaned prawns in the last minutes…ummm delish!

I buy a dark green olive oil and cook on low temps. Even on med/low I haven’t had any problem with the oil burning and I do get a good sizzle. My go to spice mixture has been freshly ground fenugreek seed, garlic powder, dried rosemary, dried basil, dried thyme, sea salt and pepper but lately I’ve been adding anise seed. I love the aroma and flavor anise gives. I tried chopping fresh garlic but it falls through the holes of this basket and burns on the flame so garlic powder is best. Whole garlic cloves don’t cook enough for my tastes by the time these quick cooking veggies are done.

Hot weather stops the pea plants from flowering so with this onset of summer heat the plants are pretty much done for. When it’s time to remove the vines, don’t pull them out. Cut them off at the soil level as the roots have nitrogen rich nodules attached. Leaving them in the ground is enriching for both the soil and crops to follow. In my case I’ll be planting my kale seedlings in that spot soon. It is generally not recommended to compost your pea vines in your own compost pile unless you know it gets really hot. There could be undetected viruses or fungi on the old vines. I just cut all the vines off and toss the whole tangled lot into the city pick up bin.

For a few years I grew purple potatoes and paired them with carrots for a beautiful dish, steaming them on the grill in parchment/foil packets. I just can’t get over how gorgeous the two colors are together, the color in the photo doesn’t do justice. I drizzle olive oil over the top then for the spices here I used freshly ground fenugreek seed, whole garlic cloves and freshly ground rosemary. It all cooks in about 30 minutes on low. Looks like I was out of parchment paper that day as I usually I put it between the food and the foil.

Next carrots are paired with red chard stems and my fresh garden leeks.

I was having problems with the bottom burning so I now put loosely crumpled foil ‘pillows’ under the food/foil packets. Problem solved.

And then there is our corn steamed in its jacket. Follow this link to a previous post. Yum, can’t wait for this year’s corn to be ready for the picking. I’ve got 6 stalks growing, one of which is just beginning to tassel!

What have you got growing in your garden for grilling season?

In Bloom in My Garden Today: Alyssum, Asiatic lily, Astilbe,  Begonia ‘bonfire’, blueberries, Daisy(white double), Daphne caucasica, Digitalis grandiflora, Echinacea, Fuchsia, Gaillardia (blanket flower), Green Beans, Hardy Geranium, Heuchera, Hosta, Kniphofia, Lavender, Lobelia, Mullen chaixii ‘Album’, Nepeta ‘six hills giant’ (catmint), Phygelius ‘new sensation’ (cape fushia), Purple poppies, Rose, Salvia, Sedum, Star Jasmine (trachelospermum jasminoides), Thyme, Tomato, Veronica ‘royal candles’, Zucchini

Authors photos